Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The World's only Ridley X-Fire Single Speed (with sliding dropouts that is)

I get a lot of compliments on my custom Ridley X-Fire Single Speed.  Before you say it, yes you can buy Ridley's newest X-Fire frame with the PF30 BB and use an eccentric BB to make a nice single speed.

But I went a different route.  This was my old X-Fire race bike that had been used for many years and beaten up pretty badly.  A mis-guided triple bunny hop over some barriers left a nice chunk of carbon missing.  A metal flag (promoters, please use tape and not metal flags) jammed into the rear derailleur broke the hanger and took some carbon from one of the seat stays.  Lots of crashes over the years caused many scratches and rubs to my frame.

So after a year of it hanging in my garage, I thought I would see about getting the damage fixed.  I contacted Ruckus Carbon Repair about fixing the carbon and also about chopping off the rear dropouts and installing some proper sliding dropouts.

After a lengthy wait my Ridley X-Fire was re-united with me, this time as a single speed!  Switching from a nice (but heavy) All City Nature Boy to my Ridley was quite an improvement in weight!

Here are some pictures of the process and the final result.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Selling point of sealed bearings?

This summer I was looking at buying a new MTB.  When I visited several different shops to see what was available, one thing that came up over and over was that the bike had "sealed bearings".  I didn't tell the shops what I do for a living, so I kind of chuckled to myself.  It seems that a "sealed bearing" is an upgrade over what, a non sealed bearing I guess?  Hint, nobody sells non sealed bearings on their bikes.

I read about bike specs online, most make a point to say "sealed bearings".  Why is that?  I think they are taking advantage of a un-informed buyer who hears "sealed bearing" and thinks this is an upgrade.

The greatest system created for hubs has to be Shimano's loose ball design.  They last for 200,000 miles or so with an occasional greasing, are adjustable and virtually indestructible.

Somewhere along the way hub makers thought they could save some money and switched to cartridge bearings.  These are fine, I have no problem with them and some of my wheels use them.  But they are inferior to loose ball hubs in both performance and longevity.

Referencing a cartridge bearing as a "sealed bearing" is taking advantage of the customer.  A "sealed bearing" just means that the cartridge bearing uses rubber seals, as opposed to metal shields.  It does not mean the bearing is sealed.  Actually sealing a bearing would make it impossible for the bearing to spin.

But by saying a bike has "sealed bearings" it gives the customer a false sense of security, as in "don't worry about the bearings... they are sealed so they'll last forever riding in any condition you can think of".

A cartridge bearing by default has a limited lifespan.  Each size is rated for a specific static load.  Many hub makers use undersized bearings to save weight.  This makes the static load inadequate.  This leads to shortened bearing life.  Ceramic bearings help you get around this problem but will eventually succumb to it too.

The biggest advantage to "sealed bearings" is that they are easy to replace when the day comes you realize your "sealed bearings" weren't really a selling point after all.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Updated pulley, now shipping. Here's a peek

7 years ago I released our first Delrin (that's a type of plastic) ceramic pulley.  Before that we have offered aluminum and titanium ceramic pulleys.  Here's a look at one of our alloy body, ceramic pulleys.

The new design was great for the time and in the 7 years that followed, I never felt the need to change the pulley design.  Sure the bearings were tweaked on a yearly basis to improve them, but the same pulley body was used each year.

The old pulley was made by a process called injection molding.  This meant we'd have an outer bearing race put into the mold and then the plastic pulley body would be injected around the race.  This process created a consistent Delrin quality and was cost effective.  Here is the first Delrin body, ceramic pulley.

Noticed how our VCRC logo was not only laser etched onto the alloy dustcaps but it was also applied to the pulley body itself.

Later we tweaked it a little and removed the extra logo.  Here is that version.

This model worked well but over time we found with lots of use the injection molding process was not ideal for the longevity of the Delrin.  Most customers had no issues but a few would find the body would wear out quicker than we'd like.

So we studied how other companies like Shimano did their pulleys.  One common feature found among really long wearing pulleys was that instead of injection molding, they would machine their pulley bodies from blocks of Delrin.  This method is more expensive but offers a much stronger, durable and pretty result.  Here is the new version:

Also, here is our new Titanium version, complete with ceramic bearings installed.

We are currently in the process of updating our website with pictures of the new version.  The new machined Delrin version is currently shipping for all pulley orders placed at our website,