Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Review: Redline d660

I am not big on writing reviews of products, there are generally plenty of folks that are more than happy to talk about that sort of thing. However, sometimes there is little to be found or little found in them. One item on point is the Redline d660 mountain bike.

2014 Redline d660
It is no secret that I am a Redline fan. Currently we have two monocogs (a 26er and Flight 29er) plus Ethan is now riding my d440 (geared 29er). Largely this is due to the fact that these are steel bikes.  There weren't many making steel bikes unless you wanted either really cheap or really expensive.  The Redlines were a good fit, right in the middle.  The Redline Monocog Flight 29er is a classic XC 29" geometry wise.  Steep head tube, short top tube, medium length chainstays, twitchy handling. All that said, there were times I wanted a geared bike with a little suspension.


I set out to find something with gears, front suspension, and with more trail capability. Initially I wanted to build a Ritchey P29er. Another steel bike with some updated geometry.  Then I realized how much the build kit was going to be. Then I looked at the newly released Cannondale Beast of the East. The new version was rolling out with 27+ tires and a hardtail. But, I wasn't sure I wanted all that trail'ness without much XC'ness. Sometimes I want to ride my mountain bike out to the trails (to Lake Hope for example, a 25 mile ride on back roads just to get there). I also looked at the Cannondale FSi 29er, their redesigned XC bike with slightly slacker head tube angle and shorter stays. But, I am not sold on the Lefty. Then I ran across the Redline. Redline completely dropped their "adult" line of bikes last year, selling only BMX now.  When they did this, the dumped their inventory.  What that meant was I could get the above pictured bike for about half the cash. That meant that if I really wanted, I could take all the parts off the bike and buy a P29 frame and have less in it than buying them all separate. I had Cycle Path order the bike, which they confirmed would still have a lifetime warranty, the warranty would just be through one of the other companies in the Redline conglomerate.

Specifications
FrameFull carbon fiber utilizing RCT Monocoque construction, internal cable routing, BB92 press fit bottom bracket, tapered headtube and 12 x 142mm rear spacing
ForkRockShox Reba RLT 29" with tapered steerer
Sizes17, 19, 21
ColorsBlack with bright green
HeadsetFSA Internal
StemXLC Pro, 31.8mm, 7 degree
HandlebarXLC Pro, 31.8mm, 700mm width
GripsRedline Flight flangeless lock-on
SaddleWTB Volt Race
Seat PostXLC Pro 27.2mm, 400mm length
Seat Post ClampAlloy 31.8mm Bolt
WheelsetWTB I19 TCS rims, Sram sealed hubs with 15mm QR front and 12mm thru rear
TiresSchwalbe Racing Ralph 29X2.25, Folding bead
CranksetShimano SLX Hollow Tech, 10s
Bottom BracketShimano BB92 PRESS FIT
Shifters/Brake LeversShimano SLX 10s
Derailleur-RearShimano SLX 10s
Derailleur-FrontShimano SLX double, 31.8mm clamp
CassetteShimano 10s, 11-34t
ChainKMC X10
BrakesShimano SLX, 160mm rotors
Geometry
Size171921
Head Angle70.57171
Seat Angle73.273.173.1
Top Tube605626641
Chain Stay436436436
BB Drop585858
Fork Offset454545
Wheel base110111221125
Seat Tube (c-t)440480520
Head Tube100110120
Standover800818835
Stack622624635
Reach419436448
Crank Length175175175
Stem Length708090
Bar Width (c-c)700700700
It arrived and Cycle Path assembled it. A quick trip on the scales showed 24 pounds even without pedals but with tubes.  Since then I have replaced the bars with Ritchey's carbon trails as well as the seatpost with a Truvativ Noir (the stock one couldn't hold the angle of the seat), plus I setup the tires tubless and replaced the front Racing Ralph with a Rocket Ron for slightly more aggressive tread.

Getting assembled.
Here are my thoughts as I now have a full riding season with the bike, doing everything from back roads, SE Ohio singletrack, to Davis, WV rocks and roots.

video

Fast. This thing is fast. Coming from a svelte steel frame that even in single speed setup was heavier than this, this carbon framed bike is stiff and light.  The Reba is smooth and I haven't really felt like I needed more than the 100 mm of travel (though keep in mind I have been riding a rigid steel fork for the past several years). The combination of the longer top tube and shorter stem and wide bars help with handling over rougher terrain and the short stays still keep this handling fast. Climbing is as you would expect from a XC bike. I am also glad for the 2x10 setup. Fast. It is quite comfortable. As stiff as it feels while pedaling, I would have expected more harsh feedback, but between the frame, fork, and seatpost, I find it quite comfortable. Oh, and it is fast (that is, unless you are me and you are riding over a bunch of root s and rocks in Davis, WV.).

Along a gravel forest road near Lake Hope.
The only complaint has to do with gears. Maybe I have just been spoiled by single speeds. With the SLX derailleur clutch engaged, the shifting isn't crisp, nothing like I am used to with my road bike. There is always chainline noise, not in the badly adjusted kind of way, I just mean the chain slaps around and makes noise. I have dropped the chain off the small front chain ring a couple of times, though it has been while not pedaling over some pretty rough stuff (like rocks in Davis). Still, getting a chain stuck between the ring and your new carbon frame isn't cool. Again, this may well be all par for the course with geared mountain bikes. It is certainly better than it was 8 years ago. Other than that, I do wish they would have come with i23 rims rather than i19, but honestly with the narrowish tires (2.2") this hasn't been an issue.

All that said I am quite happy with it (and do not plan to disassemble it to build a P29).


Monday, December 5, 2016

Thankfullness

Thanksgiving has come and gone and as in the past, we had a house full of family. Always a great day especially with all we have to be thankful for. The holiday found it roots in giving God thanks for the past year, and thanks we shall give.

I have intentionally held off on writing on this blog. The social media world is overwhelmed right now and I have no desire to add to the noise. So without getting in to any of the nonsense, I can share a couple of ride reports and family 'goings-ons' with you all.

I haven't been getting in a lot of miles and certainly limited with respect to length of rides (only so far I can get during lunch). With a few unseasonably warm days in November, I was lucky enough to get to use some PTO for longish rides.

The first was a nice road ride starting and ending at the office (since I got pulled in to a meeting and had to come in). It wasn't all bad as it gave me a chance to ride some roads I hadn't before. The route wound its way through Athens county toward the north through Millfield, Butchel, Carbon Hill, and Nelsonville, before connecting with the Hocking bikeway and riding back to Athens.  Nearly got in a metric century.

New asphalt on Scatter Ridge.
Stopping for a coffee on the star bricks at Fullbrooks Cafe on the Nelsonville square.
The sun is low in the sky this time of year, just peaking over the rock out cropping along the bike path.
A couple weeks later, I got some more time off and after cleaning the chimney I made the trip out to Lake Hope state park for some trail riding. Another great day to be outside and on a bike. Following the single track, I rode out to the Moonville tunnel to check out the new walking bridge over Raccoon Creek.  I would be on my new geared Redline for this ride. I still really enjoy riding single speed, but wow, this bike is so fast, efficient, and comfortable. Almost all the miles on my single speed this year have been gravel roads, which I am not complaining about either.

Can you believe the trails look like this on a 60 degree day in November?
The infamous Moonville tunnel.
The old railway is now slated for a rail trail, however, when the railroad left, so did the bridges.

A beverage and a view of the lake after a great day riding.
The following day it turned cold.  Shelly was out of town and Ethan was in the woods deer hunting so Brock and I enjoyed a wood fire and made cookies.


 On to Thanksgiving. After cooking, frying, cleaning, making and drinking coffee, we typically head outside to shoot shotguns at flying clay targets. A good time was had and more coffee was drank.

Thanksgiving traditions.
Get outside and enjoy!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Fall!

I have most likely said (written) it before, but I love fall.  Clear, cool, air. The sky, the sunrise/sunset. The colors. The cider. Soccer. The single-speed rides on back country roads. This year has remained a bit drier and warmer later than it typically should. So much so that I found a violet blooming in my folks yard last week. This has made for some good riding though.

Violet blooming in late October!?

Singletrack at Stroud's Run.
Back roads: one of my favorite things is to get on the single-speed and cruise back roads. Steep climbs, rough surfaces, tree lined, and little traffic (and occasionally an anxious dog). Yesterday was a great example. I got in about 24 miles on a ride home from my folks. Nearly all of it was on less than perfect roads and over half on dirt/gravel. I could count the number of vehicles I passed on one hand. Temperatures in the low 60's, low humidity, warm sun, and a stiff breeze. I could do this every day.

Back roads,single speeds, and fall. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Gentleness

Ah, election season. And like allergy season, it seems to be longer and more painful year by year. Without getting in to political opinions, uninformed thoughts, and the like, I will say that I have found the entire thing discouraging. So instead of adding to the noise, I will leave it with this one thought:

Paul's letter to the Philippians, Chapter 4, verse 5 (NASB):
Let your gentle spirit be known to all men.

With that out of the way, let's move on to more important things: bikes. And to do that, I have to go back, way back, to the summer. So with little narration (warning this will be a picture heavy post)...

RAAM - Race Across America come through Athens each summer, and the riders pass directly in front of my office.
Early morning summer trail ride before work. Mostly I just clear all the spider webs for the rest of the day.
It's Albert Castiglia!
I discovered this small pup, abandoned in a ditch in the middle of nowhere while riding. We came back for him, cleaned him up and found him a home. The kids creatively named him Mr. Puppy Cow. I fail to understand how someone can abandon a helpless pup (vet thought he was about 6 weeks old) with all knowledge that without intervention it would die. Thankfully there were many people willing to take him in.
Eight weeks later, Mr. Puppy Cow is happy, healthy, and growing like crazy!
First day of first grade.
It finally worked out to get a ride with Mr Weswingery on Labor Day. Great weather, great views, windy roads. 
Mountain bike trip to Davis WV.
The view from Beardon Rocks
Burger night at Tip Top!
Morning coffee view from camp along the Blackwater River.
Ah, he is like a little angle.
So this. I forgot my cycling shoes in Athens. Thankfully Blackwater Bikes had a pair of flat pedals. 
Someone left me a message on my truck.
The Hocking River Rumble. My first CX race. Finished 2nd in Masters 35. And, while there were only 2 of us in the class, I did finish ahead of many from the 45 class and only a few seconds behind 1st place. Also, a drop bar 29er SS may not be the best CX racing bike. Fun none the less.

With that, fall is setting in. Soccer season is winding down. Hope you can get outside and enjoy!



Friday, June 10, 2016

Rushed

We are a busy people. While we work with international vendors and customers at work, we have to be aware of their summer shutdowns/holiday. The culture is different in Europe where you are almost chastised for not going on vacation, rather than the good ole USA where the opposite could easily be said. Work, youth athletics, family responsibilities, homeowner responsibilities, church expectations, it all piles up. Even when we manage to get away from it, all we often do is force a rush before/during/after.

Anyway, so a friend was planning a two month dual sport ride across the US, up to Canada, and back. I managed to get get two days to escort him out of Ohio. We rode mostly pavement, but avoided as much highway as we could from Athens to Davis WV. We then rode Cannan Loop Road (a 4WD trail around Blakwater State Park) before getting burritos at Hellbenders. As we usually do, we camped along the Blackwater in the CVI area. The next morning we had breakfast at Tip-Top in Thomas before he headed south and I turned home. Wish I had more time. 500 miles on a KTM LC4 Enduro with knobby tires in less than 36 hours wore me out.

I had to come back as I committed to work the Nelsonville Music Festival to help park bikes. Even though by volunteering I was given a weekend pass, I spent very little time at the festival, mostly just worked my 12 hours and headed for home. I would have liked to do more, but family responsibilities...

A pair of KTM LC4's (Ryan on the Adventure, me on the Enduro)
Leaving Ohio (I'll be right back, not so for Ryan).
Best donuts in WV can be found in Buchanan
Wind turbine installation in Tucker Co WV.
The saddest of signs (yellow sign says they are closed for the day).
Over look somewhere along Canaan Loop Road.
Hellbenders!
Since Tip-Top was closed, had to make camp coffee. Luckily for Ryan, I am always prepared to make a french press pot of good coffee.
Sunrise over the Blackwater.
That's better, they are open the following day. I could easily just sit right there and drink coffee for a long while.
Bye Ryan, see you in two months!
Detour to Audra State Park on my ride home.
Grabbing a milkshake for lunch at the Coke and Float.
Hey, Donkey was at the music fest! Two of my favorites, coffee and bikes.
Speaking of bikes, a quick single track ride around Stroud's Run and Sell's Park before work today. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May Day!

I have started to type out a blog post multiple times in the past month only to stop, delete, give up, or some other verb. It just hasn't happened. May has that affect at my house.  May feels like we are sinking, just hoping to make it to June before we are full under. May is Shelly's busiest time of the year only made worse by the simple fact of under funded schools and over worked special education groups.  The school is technically out of compliance with respect to work load for Speech Pathology (she has nearly 90 kids!). And at the end of the year, each kid needs tested, reported, plans and goals written, and then meet with each parent to review it all. She has been at work until 11pm multiple times, gone in a couple hours early multiple times, and fallen asleep after dinner exhausted multiple times. By the time May gets here, all our weekends are already planned (crammed?). We manage to get in mother's day (for my mom, her mom, and Shelly too), Brock's and Michael's birthday, Ohio State Championships road (bike) race p/b Team Athens, and Memorial day weekend. Oh, and we managed to have a successful first run of a new cryo-cooler design that I have been working on at work for the last 9 months.  With that...



I used to love to sketch, so much so that I almost considered art as a career while I was in high school. Last year Shelly and the boys bought me a sketch book. So, I did a quick pencil drawing of the old mill at Stockport for mom for Mother's day.  Hopefully this kick me back into gear to draw more, though time will tell.

Two wheel of the motor variety:  I picked up a pannier rack from a friend for the KTM. I had been considering a rackless bag setup (like the Mosko Moto Reckless 80) but with a rack set, I decided to fabricate a system that would allow me to transfer my Pelican cases from the Buell to the KTM and back easily.  I decided on using 1/2" thick HDPE with mitered edges that created a slide on setup. A thumb screw through the case from the inside prevents it from being lifted off (unless I want to). Actually works well and I can move the cases in about two minutes.  I had to park the Buell a while ago due to a leaking fork seal.  A simple repair and since HD still has the updated springs (progressive springs from 2007) available, I decided to upgrade while I had the forks apart.  I placed the order through my local HD dealer for two seals and two springs.  Two weeks later I had two seals, no springs. A quick phone call to HD and the nice lady says the springs are in stock and she does not know why the order wasn't filled. She had my dealer cancel the open order and re-order. Another two weeks and no springs. (Does anyone else see the larger failure of the system here?). I had to cancel the order through my local dealer and order online through a different dealer. A week and half later, I had new springs.  A couple hour job to change out the parts and I was back up and running and happy I waited for springs, the difference was significant.
Pannier rack mounting system
Pannier Rack Clamps
Racks and panniers installed.
Fork seal repair and spring upgrade on the Buell.

Timing cover repaired on the 640.
We celebrated birthdays for the oldest and youngest. Thanks to Fluff Bakery (http://www.fluffbakery.com/) for a special sugar cookie for Brock.

The next weekend I worked as a corner marshal for the previously mentioned bike race. I have raced this in the past, but 1) road racing isn't my strong area and 2) it turns our riding my singlespeed to Fluff for lunch on Fridays to get pie hasn't been the best training plan. Anyway, this year I was the first time I wasn't driving SAG, rather "just" working a corner.  Though it turns out the particular corner I was working has a history with a local 70+ year old farmer. Said farmer ran a barricade and flagger a couple years ago and acted as if he was going to run over the sheriff who had to actually draw his side arm.  This year was slightly less dramatic, though he made several drive by's that included the middle finger and telling the sheriff to f*** off. The story gets better. While telling this story at work, one of the machinists who is a sport pilot told a story of this same guy greeting a group of sport pilots at the Vinton Co. airport with his shotgun in hand because they had disturbed the airspace above his farm. Certifiable nut job.


At some point this month we even went fishing which was interrupted by at least a couple of passing thundershowers. But we did manage to catch a few fish and nearly get our trucks stuck in the mud created by the showers.

Not a lot of patience in this boy.
Waiting out a passing storm.
Finally a fish.
That pretty well catches things up. Not a lot of riding (though I did get almost 40 miles in on my singlespeed on memorial day). Speaking of, we have been reading The Magic Tree House series to Brock. The last two books have been about the Civil Ware and the Revolutionary War. I appreciate that war is presented in a way to shows to Brock that it isn't a game and that people are greatly affected. Too often we have to become a monster to fight a monster. It is sad to recall all the lives lost in just the history of this country as we have fought for what we believe was (is) right. I pray that Brock does not have to learn about war through personal experience.

Here is to a Happy Summer.