Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mechanical Failure Tuesday With Race News And More!

Apparently the sticky frozen at Nationals was a problem for disc brakes and other moving bike parts. Photo CXMagazine.

Here's a little look at the race and conditions on Sunday - watch it until the end - lots of footage of Tom Burke, who turned a great performance in his race, taking a Top Ten - and apparently on Disc Brakes, as you can see in the footage. More about Michigan racers at Nationals later this week.

It appears that tough conditions at the USA Cyclocross National Championships, in someplace called Wisconsin, uncovered some issues for disc brake technology on cyclocross bikes, just this past weekend. While many of you know I have been a long-time disc-brakes-for-cross-bikes denier, you probably think that I felt vindicated in what went down on Sunday. But not really ... well maybe.

One of the first reports of disc brake failure was made by the guy who races this bike.

I first heard about what was happening with disc brakes at Nationals from a Face Book post by Leonard Zinn. While I don't usually read a lot of "Zinn," because I'm not 8-feet tall and don't need 195 crank arms, this headline immediately caught my attention, because as I said, I am a Disc-Brakes-For-Cross-Bike Denier, and probably a bit of a hater, too.

"Bright future for disc brakes fades briefly under a coating of Verona mud"

At first I wondered, where the hell is Verona? Italy? No, it's just outside of Madison, WI, where the Cross Nationals have been held for what seems like the last 19-years. Instead of relying on his own load of technical knowledge, it looks like Zinn went out and did a little investigative reporting. Here are a couple of excerpts from his VeloNews article ...

VERONA, Wisconsin (VN) — The bright future of disc brakes in cyclocross faded briefly under a patina of watery mud at the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships, as early competitors found themselves brakeless after a lap or two of sloppy racing going into the weekend ... 

Well you could always take them off and use them for Pizza Cutters ... (my comment, not Zinn's)

“I’ve suddenly become a disc-brake hater!” says Michael Robson of Moots, who has reviewed cyclocross disc brakes all season for VeloNews.com. After taking a number of practice laps on Friday in anticipation of his 40-44 race Saturday and having no brakes left at the end of each lap, he planned to ride his cantilever-equipped bike and relegate his BB7-equipped machine to the pit.
“I totally see now why the Euros don’t use them,” he says. “Cranking brakes down every lap – hell, no!”

While I had also eschewed the use of disc brakes because of the additional weight (Adam Myerson's number reason for disc-hating) plus the cost of retrofitting wheels with pizza cutters, the crappy noise they make when you ride them in wet and dusty conditions, along with the fact that I don't think you need that much braking power on a cross bike, I never thought that the f*cking things would just quit working in wet and muddy conditions - one of the selling points had been that they would be better in bad conditions, right? Well I guess not. Maybe product testing should have included riding them through some mud, huh?

Not only does mud screw up disc brake performance, but large snakes can also hinder braking, and going performance.

Here's where I learned most of what I know about putting disc brakes on anything but Mountain Bikes, where God meant them to be.

And here's what I'm thinking bike engineers manufacturers were planning on making the switch to all disc-brake equipped cyclcross bikes and technology future looked like after Zinn's article came out on VeloNews this week.

Of course now they (whoever they are) are saying that the problem will be solved once hydraulic brakes are brought into the mix and new pad designs and materials are put in place and so on. Unfortunately it sounds like a bunch of excuses. But maybe the guy they've put on the job can do it!

Disc Brakes for Cross Bikes! That's a fantastic idea! But I'll need to make a few adjustments ...


Fat Bikes don't work so good on snow? Say it's not so!

A great series of photos by Julie McGraw from this week's Farmer's Fat Bike Race at Cannonsburglar, revealed the fact that Fat Bikes just tend to fall over on their sides in wet snow. It was topple over and crash, or just push that monster along - which would be easier with a lighter bike. Yeah, I'm a Fat Bike Denier too, so figure that in the hater-equation. Just click the link at the top of this paragraph to see all of Julie's photos of the falling and fun at this race.


There was so much happening this week the Inside Out Race slipped right by me: until I heard about it from the Koala Bear.

According to the Koala the Inside-Out Race just wasn't a fun and crazy race, it was something like a World Championship affair attracting the top names in the country. It was sooooo competitive that racers went to the extent of injuring themselves to get that prized step on the podium.

Inside-Out Second Place Trophy: A broken wrist (artist dramatization of a "Red" second place cast. First place were Blue crutches).

Entertaining video of this weekend's INSIDE OUT RACE - it looks like Big Mac was wearing his Bissell Skinsuit of invisibility again.

Top finishers at this year's INSIDE OUT race, except those wearing cloaks of invisibility, will move on to compete in next year's BILENKY JUNKYARD CROSS, which is pretty much the same thing, and has a lot of going in and out of boxes, cars, and buildings, and also features a lot opportunities to pick up fractures, as well as cuts, bruises sutures and tetanus. Here's a sweet taste of what it's all about ...



  1. koala bear.. now thats funny!! Bissell cloak of invisibility.. you have to be from the Koala's tribe to have been there? but the cloak must not work for pics..

  2. Yeah the camera was able to pierce the cloak of invisibility. Special lens I guess.