Why on God’s green earth would you buy something from someone who claims to not even really use the item he is selling?
It’s like the opposite of buying that hair growth goop from the guy who claims not only to be the owner of the company, but a client. Or was it not only was he a client, but he was the founder of the company?
Either way, unlike those miracle hair growth formulas, Paul’s 22.2 Dropper Trigger never leaves you wondering if all the hype is just that. Don’t give it a second thought, the Trigger will grow on you.
And it is during these stressful and uncertain times, as I tighten my wallet and consider what the future is going to look like, where I think looking to companies like Paul’s Components has extra value.
At Pauls things are loved over by a small group of artisans and handcrafted to pretty impressive tolerances.
Sure Paul says he’s not really convinced a dropper post is something he is interested in for himself, but he seems to have still given a shit about those of us who don’t ever want to ride without one ever again.
It is machined in Chico, California out of 6061 aluminum and has a pair of sealed cartridge bearings, two different cabling options, barrel adjuster and hinged mount the Trigger is ready for just about any dirty whip you can mount it to and it comes in a cavalcade of color options.
We wanted to embrace the experience that is the Paul’s colorways, but we couldn’t pass up the bling of the beautiful chrome version.
Do you need a new lever for your dropper?
Probably not, as the majority of companies have caught on to the importance of quality lever and the game has greatly improved.
The thing is though, the Paul’s trigger works beautifully, feels great under thumb and never ceases to start a trailhead conversation.
And now, Paul has added a 31.8 Trigger into their lineup, so all you gravel-grinders can drop in style to your heart’s content.
We might even consider going purple on our drop bar, fat tire bike.
Six perspectives on the history of Oklahoma, the Land Run 100’s name change, and the future of inclusion in gravel cycling.
In 2011 Bobby and Crystal Wintle moved from Emporia, Kansas to Stillwater, OK. Following their dream they started a family and opened up a bicycle shop named District Bicycles. Bobby fell in love with the local dirt roads and started a grassroots movement that he called “Unlearn Pavement”. It was only natural that he’d also start a gravel bike race and it was only natural that he’d name it after the most famous event in Stillwater’s history: The Land Run of 1889. He didn’t know anything about it but the locals seemed awfully proud of their past, and the name itself had a resonance that just worked. The Land Run of 1889. The Land Run 100. It was a perfect connection between Stillwater’s history and, Bobby hoped, it’s future as a bicycling destination.
When the Oklahoma State University ROTC company offered a ceremonial cannon to start the race with, it was just as perfectly natural to accept their offer. What wasn’t there to like about starting a bike race with a cannon?
The little gravel race in Stillwater quickly became famous. People travelled from around the world to take part. With that additional exposure came questions about the Land Run name, the cannon and what they symbolized. For some, the Land Run was not something to be proud of and the cannon shot was an echo of a past filled with violence, racism and genocide. Hard questions started to be asked of Bobby, Crystal and event organizer Sally Turner by members of the Oklahoma Native American tribes as well as people in the cycling community. They did know the history of that name, didn’t they? They did know the Land Run of 1889 was started with a shot from an Army cannon? And that it was the beginning of the end for the tribes in Oklahoma?
To the joy of some and the consternation of others in late 2019 it was announced that the name of the race was being changed from the Land Run 100 to The Mid South. In doing so Bobby, Crystal and Sally started a conversation about not just how Oklahoma’s turbulent history still affects the events of today but also about the lengths we go in pursuit of inclusion. Were the Land Runs in the 1800’s that bad of a thing? Does the name of a bike race in the middle of Oklahoma matter? How far do we need to go to make people feel comfortable or welcomed? Why can’t people let go of the past and move on?
In order to try to make sense of it, I traveled to Oklahoma to talk to people from as many sides of the Land Run story as I could. Here’s what they have to say (click on each link below for their individual stories):
Choctaw tribal member Tyson Branyon who has ridden in every edition of the race, is a retired Assistant District Attorney and a Board Member of Oklahoma Indian Legal Services. Tyson was and still is against the changing of the name from Land Run 100.
Fr. Aidan of St. Francis of the Woods, a small Episcopalian religious community who draw much of their beliefs from historical and current tribal connections that are restoring their land back to original Oklahoma prairie.
Lindsay Beltchenko, Marketing Manager, Salsa Cycles. Salsa is the largest sponsor of the Mid South event and the longest running sponsor of gravel cycling as a whole.
Bobby Wintle, co-owner of District Bicycles and founder of the Mid South gravel race.
What I discovered is that Oklahoma has a turbulent past of forced relocation, racism, conflict, war, hope, and opportunity. For tribal members in Oklahoma their history has two parts: Before Relocation and After Relocation. While it was still a territory Oklahoma was the end of the Trail of Tears, a place where over 30 Native American tribes were forced to relocate to after losing their homelands and way of life. Natural enemies were forced to live on reservations together. Nomads who followed the buffalo watched the herds get slaughtered and had their freedom to roam taken away forever. Tribal members would argue that the cultural and physical genocide of the 1800’s continues to this day.
But Oklahoma was also a land of opportunity and excitement. Black townships arose after the Civil War where newly freed slaves banded together to escape the rampant, blatant racism that was common in big cities. Homesteaders came for the chance to have land of their own. Poor immigrants, veterans of the Union Army, and those who were just caught up in the excitement of the Land Runs all arrived in the late 1800’s chasing their dreams. Nearly 60,000 settlers participated in the Land Run of 1889 alone. The Land Run of 1893 brought in another 100,000. By the time Oklahoma declared statehood in 1907 there were 1,400,000 residents. The vast majority of them were not Native Americans. Throughout the 19th century Oklahoma’s uneasy existence has continued. Osage artist Yatika Fields told me, “I always put things in Oklahoma into an analogy that it’s like a puzzle. The pieces are everywhere. We’re still trying to resolve it”
A few weeks ago Jim asked whether I wanted to shoot some dirt jumping at the Kali Protective HQ. I love photographing new, challenging assignments but to be honest, it’s been a while since I’ve really shot anything dirt related. Sea Otter Classic doesn’t really count as shooting dirt. And I hadn’t really shot dirt jumping. I was worried about not knowing what to shoot, much like how regular photographers photographing skateboarding get laughed at by skateboarding photographers for missing the “peak” action shots which actually matter.
But Jim also said Nicholi Rogatkin was going be in town riding with the local groms. Yes, the Nicholi Rogatkin of Crankworx Joyride fame. So I figured what the heck, yolo. It’s not every day you get to “hangout” with a Triple Crown winner of Crankworx Slopestyle who also happened to pull the World’s first Cashroll on a downhill bike.
The day started out normal enough, photographing Nicholi getting ready, portraits, moments and riding (duh). Things were going as planned until we started doing portraits. It turns out I remembered everything for the shoot, minus my case of lights. Which was a total bummer. I didn’t have enough time to drive home and grab them now. But at least I had one tiny Canon speedlite. I made the best of it and ended up utilizing this set of vintage monkey bars.
It wasn’t long before the kids started to show up. So there we were in a dirt lot turned XL pump track with a bunch of star-struck kids brushing shoulders with one of the hottest riders in the gravity circuit, bantering about tips on how to stop the crankarms from spinning midair, how to approach this one massive jump and running rider train, over-and-over, until well after sunset.
Speaking of the sunset, someone borrowed a full-blown construction light just so everyone could ride well past sunset. And then it was a twelve-year-old kid who gave me a quick lesson on how to operate a bobcat dozer and casually pointed out what’s wrong with the choking generator connecting to the airbag at the end of the jump.
All that happened while Nicholi was busy launching flips and spins like a walk in the park. It is easy to see why he has won so many contests and is so admired by the dirt jump crowd, his riding is athletic, yet graceful and his personality is equal parts hipster and sweetheart.
At one point, a Mercedes rolled up and out popped a former Powder Puff motocross racer. She saw the riders jumping in the air while driving nearby, and decided to pull in to simply watch.
It dawned on me that this was completely different from the other “major league” sporting event I am accustomed to shooting. There were no rope lines, no press passes, no media lounge and no pretenses. It was just a real hang amoungst people who came for the love of bikes.
It was a damn good day, and I’m thinking I should shoot more dirt this year.
That was my first impression of the POC Octal in 2014. Yeah, the bright colors were dope and all, but I had a hard time liking its shape. Plus, I just got a new helmet that I really, truly loved so I was not about to drop a few more Benjamins.
That didn’t stop me from keeping tabs on the Swedish firm’s progress. It’s pretty hard not to notice them on the road either. Similar to its fellow swede compatriot Volvo where you can unmistakably spot one from a mile away, it’s easy to pick out a POC amongst of sea of helmets, not that that’s a bad thing or anything.
The time finally came when it was time for a new lid. I was curious about aero helmets because seriously, who doesn’t like free speed these days. I also despise the feeling of wearing a bucket. I already get that when I have to wear my fire or ballistic helmet, thank you very much.
But I do want a do-it-all helmet.
POC just happened to drop the Ventral SPIN aero road helmet around the same time, so I decided to give it a run. We covered it during its initial launch so I’ll spare the technical details and will focus on how it works on the road. Touted Aerodynamics and ventilation aside, I was especially intrigued with the blue SPIN padding between the shell and my noggin’ that made more than a splash: Lawsuits against those seemingly benign, albeit squishy pads were filed (and settled). Is SPIN finally a challenger to MIPS?
I ended up wearing my all-white Ventral SPIN for almost two seasons now, and it’s time to taIk about it. TL:DR: I am a happy camper.
Sure that POC look takes some time to get used to, but what helmet doesn’t? The Ventral is a bit bigger, more bulbous, and perhaps has an even thicker appearance than a lot of helmets, but it’s a shape that grew on me as weeks passed.
From its frontal view, its generous five intake vents doesn’t give away the fact that this helmet is meant for speed. There are six large exhaust vents in the back that are aggressively shaped with sharp lines like the back of a Lamborghini Huracan. Bold. A dedicated dock for sunglasses is also neatly integrated out front.
Large air vents usually mean ample ventilation at the cost of aerodynamics, but POC mapped them to essentially force the wind in and out of the helmet on a specific flow math to create what is called the venturi effect. In Ventral’s case, the guided airflow utilizes moving air to its advantage to vent and cool heads while producing a more efficient air flow minimizing turbulence.
All those prominent statements aren’t easy to validate without a wind tunnel, but I can say with great certainty that it is a very comfortable helmet to wear day in and day out. The Ventral channels air well, and run cooler than other aero road helmets that I’ve tried while performing admirably in terms of airiness just below the exceptionally airy, climbing oriented Kask Valegro.
But while Kask fell short in the internal padding department, POC’s SPIN pads, short for Shearing Pad Inside were wonderful. Its silicone composition gave it a decidedly more fitted feel compared to regular foam pads.
Visually, it’s difficult to see beyond a humble padding that goes between one’s head and the helmet, but the very same blue pads, or precisely, the allowed movements of the pad’s gel-like center, is POC’s secret sauce to reduce rotational impact and brain damage. The concept does exactly what MIPS does with its movable helmet liner, but POC’s integrated solution is arguably cleaner and more subtle.
At $290, the Ventral comes at a premium, even some $40 more than the Ventral Air, its newer, lighter and more ventilated little brother. I am curious to see how it’ll pit against Giro’s Aether with its new MIPS Spherical system that eliminated the hard plastic slip plane of the original MIPS, or the evergreen Kask Protone. But one thing that’s certain: The Ventral is one heck of a lid one should consider when looking for an aero helmet that excels all around besides free speed.
My wife uses one of those fancy-ass electric toothbrushes.
She swears by it and is constantly telling me I need to open my mind and give it a try.
But for me, it just seems like an unnecessary gadget for gadgets sake.
You know one of those things you really don’t need, like a quesadilla maker or a smartphone controlled doggy water dispenser or a “smart” trash can.
I mean I have been brushing my teeth for quite a while now and at my last dental appointment I was complimented for the condition of my teeth.
And I was also doing a pretty nice job with my “analog” bicycle pump. My tire pressure targeting skills seemed to be doing just fine. Or so I thought, until the Fumpa arrived in my life.
It was my wife, once again, who pushed us into the future. It turns out she had been stopping in at the local bike shop to have them air up her tires while I was out of town.
Now, while I’m super grateful for their excellent customer service, I started to wonder how to future proof her tire pressure issues, just in case she needed air at a time the shop might not be open.
So I did some googling, threw down my credit card and the Fumpa arrived into our lives.
This little red box is nothing short of miraculous.
It charges with a standard USB cable, it fits firmly onto your presta valve and the pressure readout is clear and precise.
My wife finds the gadget to be overly noisy and the vibrations to be off-putting. She still has not completely adjusted to these peculiarities and thus it is not the perfect pump, but it has all but eliminated her trips to the local shop for a top-off.
And as for me, I’ve switched almost completely over to the Fumpa for my tire pressure needs, but I’m still stubbornly scrubbing on my pearly whites the old fashioned way. You can teach an ol’ dog the occasional new trick, but you can’t make him brush his teeth with one of those new fangled contraptions.
In a blink of an eye, I went from working for inGamba Tours and traveling the world with a bunch of shaved-legged, power number crunching, gram-counting, Strava checking, prosecco consuming roadies to hanging out with a bunch of baggie short wearing, hairy leg having, sag checking, flat pedal pedaling, beer drinking, shuttle taking mountain bikers.
Now not all the folks that work at or wear Kali helmets are fat tire fatties, we do sponsor a road team, some triathletes, a few gravel riders and a whole bunch of BMX riders.
But the culture definitely slants towards the pickup truck tailgate-sitting mountain biker set.
And for me this has caused a bit of a culture shock.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely unfamiliar with the activity of mountain biking. Hell, I bought my first mountain bike before there was suspension and then proceeded to save all my “extra” money to buy a RockShox Mag21, so I could experience this new fangled thing called a suspension fork.
But it turns out, while I have been commuting by bike, riding the road and doing some “mountain biking” in the Oakland Hills, the real world of mountain biking has passed me by.
I got dropped.
And my attempt to chase back on has been a bitch.
First of all, the trails have gotten deeper and steeper.
The bikes have gotten bigger and more capable of, well, just about everything.
And the riders have gotten more “bruh.”
Okay, the mountain bike riders aren’t any more “bro” or “bruh” then they were before, but it is just a little bit harder to infiltrate the club now that I’ve been away for awhile and I’ve grown a little to grey.
Now, I’m not talking about the type of mountain biking the “roadies” of my previous life were participating in. You know, the kind where they pull on their lycra road kit, throw their leg over their 20-pound carbon wonder whip and pound out 50 miles of dirt, where the up is almost always more important than the down.
I’m talking about mountain biking where the riders hire vans to drive them to the top of whatever mountain there is, any pedaling is frowned upon and the riders are more concerned about the alcohol content of their beer, than the calories in their power gels.
I am not ready for this type of activity.
My shorts aren’t baggie enough.
My shoes aren’t clunky enough.
My jersey is a nudge too “aero.”
My legs aren’t hairy enough.
And my bikes not big enough.
Well, not all is lost, as I have solved the first problem. I’ve bought myself a big ol’ bike to make up for my lack of talent and to try and fit in with my new peeps.
There are plenty more lessons to be learned and shit to buy and this makes me happy.
Remember the Aeroshell? Lazer’s innovative, if simple, plastic helmet fairings have allowed users to convert ventilated models to aero alternatives for several years. It’s a smart accessory adding versatility for users, but with no way to stow it, you better make peace with the level of head sweat you committed to at the start of the ride.
Enter the Bullet 2.0, the latest iteration of a creative, aero-profile Lazer lid that allows quick and easy toggling of the closure of its front-facing vents. Riders can keep things breezy when desiring better comfort and close the vents for better aerodynamics when needed, all without the need for some additional accessory. How does this interesting approach perform in the real world, and how does the 2.0 improve on the original?
First, the specs. Lazer reports the Bullet 2.0 weights 315 grams in size small. The helmet ships with several swappable panels (more on that later) and large Zeiss lens that is specific to this model. Lazer built a rear-facing red LED into the ratcheting retention mechanism for the Bullet 2.0, and finally, there’s a branded cloth bag with a drawstring to keep everything together. Prices vary, but this tester found costs of about $270 online.
The headlining feature of this helmet is clearly the ability to change modes on the fly. The default front vent is more complex than it might appear to a casual observer – there are four “fins” in the sliding mechanism that direct air over the head and pivot to sit flush while closed. The whole system is easy to operate, though this tester found it tricky to apply enough force while in motion in the saddle without much to grab on to. Still, it’s easy, and it works.
It’s difficult for a layman rider to comment on the aerodynamic benefits of “closed” mode, but Lazer offers some figures. If users swap for the alternative panels included with the helmet, turning the transforming vents into a flat surface, the Bullet 2.0 unlocks seven watts of power at about 35 miles per hour. Lazer says this equates to about eight meters in the last kilometer of racing, and for those out there who have lost races by millimeters, it’s a compelling statistic.
Some reviews of Lazer’s first version of the Bullet complained of inadequate airflow even while vents were open, but this was no issue for this tester with the 2.0 version, even on hot summer days at Portland Oregon’s Alpenrose Velodrome. The 2.0 has deeper channels in the helmet than the original version, and a new top-of-the-helmet vent Lazer calls the Venturi Cap is meant to accelerate the air flowing over the top of the head. Even with the solid panels installed, users can still open up the front to reveal a decently large port.
The fit is extremely comfortable – this tester has been using Lazer helmets for years, and true to his previous experience, the Bullet 2.0 applies even pressure around the head. Lazer secures the helmet using what it calls the “Advanced Turnfit System,” a back-of-the-head dial reminiscent of other helmet brands. This tester wondered whether the pivot from the Rollsys system Lazer uses for its other high-end lids would impact fit, but while the Advanced Turnfit System is bulkier in appearance, it is comfortable – and the build-in LED is a nice touch.
The Bullet is noticeably heavier than this tester’s typical high-end lid, about 100 grams heavier. But weight isn’t everything – the old adage was that aero came at a weight penalty, and for weight weenies, Lazer’s own Z1 is advertised at 190 grams for size small. It’s all relative, as this tester’s go-to helmet for many track events is Lazer’s Victor, a space helmet that exceeds 400 grams.
The Zeiss lens for the bullet is a really great touch. Lazer argues that the lens improves the aerodynamics of the helmet, and it fits flush, via magnets, to create a smooth and rounded profile facing into the wind. The optics of the lens are excellent, and there are zero contact points on the face. A single magnet exists at the rear of the helmet to stow the lens when desired.
One minor issue for this tester was that the Bullet would seem to tilt forward over time in an aero position and the un-cushioned bridge of the lens would wind up resting on the nose – I wonder whether a lightweight pad might make for a nice contingency, though perhaps it wouldn’t be worth it in terms of aerodynamics and weight. For those who prefer to use different shades, I had no issues with compatibility with long-armed eyewear such as the Oakley Radar.
Lazer manufactures a host of helmet accessories, and the Bullet is compatible with a heart-rate monitor and an alarm to remind riders to keep their head in the proper position.
So what was life like with the Bullet 2.0 this summer? For this tester, the Bullet addressed a very annoying problem at the velodrome – carrying two helmets. This tester would traditionally use an airier lid for warmups on the track, and only break out the space helmet for time trials. The ability to lean on an all-in-one helmet was a great convenience.
For the versatile competitive cyclist, the Bullet is just a great everyday lid. Keep it open for road climbs and training rides, close it down for criteriums, swap for the solid panels for time trials. With the Zeiss lens and the interchangeable panels, this is a very versatile helmet and a great way to buy some free speed.
What makes for an exceptional bicycle workstand? With many options in today’s marketplace, details make the difference. Topeak’s Prepstand X offers a sturdy and highly portable option with great flexibility, but is this the workstand that works for you? If you like the idea of a one-lever-per-function system that works across an array of standards, read on.
The Prepstand X is an 11-pound, three-legged, foldable unit that relies on a front-fork mount system (as in, take that front wheel off). The 6061-aluminum stand can handle bicycles up to nearly 40 pounds, and an array of adaptors make it possible to accommodate many today’s axle standards. This tester found prices for online retailers between $200 and $250.
Perhaps most notable about the Prepstand X is that each operating lever affects a separate adjustment. Height, angle and rotation are all secured through individual levers. It may seem subtle, but the ability to control only the desired variable is very helpful when manipulating a frame for maintenance. For a hard-working workstand, this is a great feature.
Also notable is the Prepstand X’s ability to pack up in to a very manageable size. This full-size repair stand packs down to the size of a small duffel bag, and this sturdy stand appears ready to put in hard work in the field or at home.
The home mechanic using this stand will appreciate the ability to manipulate a frame 90 degrees from horizontal in either direction, all while maintaining stability via a large tray. A ratcheting strap across the downtube holds the bottom bracket well, and with the quick-release fork mount, the two points of contact are more stable than an alternative seatpost-mounted system.
The easy-to-manipulate control for angle of the subject bicycle does double duty as the control for sliding the bike tray – the whole arrangement works well, and is very user friendly. A horizontal access lever holds securely to keep the stand from rotating, and the unit rotates smoothly when the lever is open.
In short, manipulating the position of the subject bicycle with the Prepstand X is easy, convenient and secure.
Most users would have a rear wheel installed while using this stand, but Topeak does provide a dummy hub insert for cases when a rear wheel is not present. This tester cannot keep track of today’s axle standards, but given the huge array of adapters provided with the Prepstand X (standard QR, 12×100, 15×100, 15×110, 20×110 for the front fork, 5×130/135 QR and 12mm thru axle), this tester assumes that most standards can find home with this workstand.
What’s not to love about this excellent workstand? Topeak does not provide quick releases for standard QRs, but this is a minimal annoyance and understandable amid so many modern axle standards, specifically the rise of thru-axles. Users can simply use the appropriate adapter and whatever hardware came with their hub. This tester noticed some rocking while using the combination of an older quick release and the 12-millimeter adapter, but maintained confidence that this stand is a sturdy, portable platform well-suited for vigorous wrenching at home or in the field.
It’s been exactly one week since I got back from Sea Otter Classic and I am already yearning for more like a hooked gearhead back from CES.
We’ve featured a few pieces of gear in a previous post, and here is more about all the other things I saw. Some gear, but mostly photographs that wouldn’t make it into a story otherwise. I guess you can call it my visual journal.
I loathe going to the North American Handmade Bike Show. IT’s not because the show sucks, but because everything just looks so darn beautiful.
I was admittedly grouchy as I made the trek from San Francisco to Sacramento, yet more than anything, the people, new and old friends, really made the show a whole lot more worthwhile.
Onto the bikes. Well, there were lots of them. Scroll through the gallery and you’ll see why NAHBS is such a fun show even if you have no inclination whatsoever to buy one of these custom steeds. The amount of time the builders, or shall I said wizard artisans, spent in making these ridable show bikes was simply amazing. I hope you enjoy the bikes as much as I do.
Special shoutout to Travis at Paul Component, Dennis at McGovern Cycles, Jeremy at Sycip, Billy at ECHOS, Evan at Alex Rims, and Andrew at Cyclocross Magazine for keeping things light and fun.