MTB News & racing round-up for March 3, 2005
Edited by Steve Medcroft
Welcome to our regular round-up of what's happening in the dirt. Feel
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Dave Harris' 26 vs. 29 inch challenge
By Steve Medcroft
Dave Harris contemplates the 26in
vs 29in conundrum
Photo: © teamhealthfx.com
Twenty six or twenty nine inch wheels - which is the better format for
cross country mountain biking? Endurance racer Dave Harris (Team HealthFX)
decided to settle the question for himself by putting two of his own bikes
to the test at the 24 Hours
in the Old Pueblo (February 18 and 19, 2006). Armed with a Trek Top
Fuel and a Salsa Dos Niner, Harris used a Power Tap integrated hub system
to gather data about his performance on the mostly rolling desert course
in Oracle, Arizona (about thirty miles Northwest of Tucson).
He got the idea to do the comparisons two years ago. "I'm a competitive
racer and I take it seriously," he says. "Once I turned to racing
endurance events, you can't help but notice the popularity of two-niner
bikes; the Fisher team (Nat Ross and Cameron Chambers) do really well
with them. I got intrigued. I looked around for some research to see if
the claims I heard about their performance was true but all I found was
an abstract from a study which provides no information about the conditions
under which the study was performed and ravings on two-niner forums. But
it's like going to the Catholic Church and asking if God exists so I bought
two last year to figure it out for myself."
Harris says that after several months of riding he worried that he wasn't
gaining in performance. "As an engineer [Harris works for a Virginia-based
engineering consulting firm], I needed objective evidence to support what
I was feeling" Which was? "I just didn't feel that my two-niners
were as fast as my Fuel. They're more fun to ride but I was getting the
sense that I was going slower." Which was a paradox. "Since
that went against everything everyone said, I knew I couldn't just trust
my perception. Since I've been training by power for a long time, I set
up a 29in inch wheel with a Power Tap hub and decided to test my bikes
side by side."
Harris says that although his was not a fully-funded scientific test,
he took the experiment seriously enough to set the bikes up in similar
ways. "Both bikes weigh 25.5 pounds," he says. "They both
have Specialized Fast Trak tires." Because a two-niner wheel has
a ten percent larger circumference than a two-sixer and front and rear
cogset combinations would have produced different gear-inch measurements,
Harris even tried to normalize the drivetrains. "I put a smaller
middle ring on the Dos Niner."
The 24 hours in the Old Pueblo wasn't the first time Harris had done
side-by-side comparisons of power measurements from his two bikes. In
the first test - on a relatively smooth forest service road (a constant
climb) in January - he gave the Fuel a slight edge. In early February,
on a 3.2-mile competitive mountain bike loop at McDowell Mountain park
in Fountain Hills, Arizona, he declared the competition a tie After careful
analysis of some minor differences in the power meter readings between
the two bikes (recorded five days apart) after the second test, he chalked
up the better readings from the Fuel as his just 'feeling' better during
the Fuel test run. Old Pueblo, with its constant conditions and multiple
laps of data to analyze, seemed like a better laboratory for his experiment.
The day after he finished the Arizona 24-hour epic, Harris sat down with
the power data from his daytime race laps (although he traded the lead
with ultimate winner Tinker Juarez into the night, vision problems caused
Harris to sit out the early morning hours so he dismissed night laps from
the test) and created some scenarios on his computer.
"There were a lot of different ways to look at the data," Harris
said about how he broke down the results. "But people have enough
difficulty understanding power in general so I kept it simple and looked
at lap time versus average power." Simply put, he wanted to kow how
much power was required to drive each bike around the course and if there
was a difference between the bikes.
Based on that data, Harris concluded that his Salsa required more average
power to achieve the same lap times over the same terrain in the same
conditions as his Trek (175 watts for the Fuel, 188 for the Dos Niner).
He says that by his measure, if he rode both bikes at the same power output
(presumably a limitation of his physique and fitness), Harris calculates
that his two-niner lap times would be about two minutes slower. "I
think I can attribute some of the difference to the power required to
accelerate each bike," he says. But adds, "I can only base this
on impressions. And my impression, my sensation, is that Dos Niner does
not accelerate as fast as the Fuel."
Harris says he realizes that his test was about his performance
on his bikes and not in indictment of the two-niner format. "I
haven't tested the bikes on descents and technical, rocky terrain,"
he adds. "I think that if I do, the Dos Niner will shine on rocky
terrain." But for now, the experiement at the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo
has him wondering if anyone's looking to buy a Salsa Dos Niner with a
Power Tap hub.
Forty year old Dave Harris is an ultra-endurance mountian-bike racer
based in Durango, Colorado. He won the West-coast based Endurance 100
endurance series last year and plans to mount a serious challenge for
the Trans-Rockies co-ed title with teammate Lynda Wallenfels. He writes
a blog on his team's Web site at teamhealthfx.com.
The crocodile man cometh; Adam Hansen interview
Photo ©: John Flynn
Australian cyclist Adam Hansen has twice won the Crocodile Trophy, one
of the hardest multi-day races the fat tyre world has to offer. This January
he made the road world sit up and take notice when he placed fourth in
the Australian national championship road race. John Michael Flynn
finds out that there's a lot more to this talented young rider than bashing
across the Outback.
Since its inception, the brutal Crocodile Trophy has become probably
the hardest bike race on the planet - a bit like cycling's answer to the
Dakar Rally. It involves fifteen days of slogging it out in bulldust,
corrugated tracks and creek crossings in stifling tropical heat. When
each stage is over, the riders pitch tents at night and hand-wash knicks
before the next day's torture. They endure conditions that only can be
fully appreciated when one is stranded in such an environment.
Of course, it demands the question 'why?', but philosophical dilemmas
aside, we can simply say "character-building". But the other question
that many have pondered is this: just how good are these intrepid men
and women who tackle it each year?
The race has seen very well-credentialed roadies enter the race, like
none other than Australia's greatest road cyclist, Phil Anderson. Some
have finished, others have not. But Phil was a long-retired rider when
he entered the 'Croc', and so the dilemma remained of placing the event
in a modern competitive context.
But that question was answered last month in an important road race outside
of Adelaide, in South Australia.
Although it is held early in the season, the Australian
Open Road Championship (AORC) sees many of the country's top riders
have a very serious dig at securing the national champion's jersey.
Read the entire Adam
Hansen interview here.
Nalgene Polaris Challenge
Next weekend, some 500 mountain bikers from across Australia will set
off from the Delegate/Bendoc region of Southern NSW/NE Victoria for the
2006 Nalgene Polaris Challenge. The event is a two-day overnight race
combining mountain biking with navigation, bush skills and touring.
Self-supported teams of two ride between checkpoints scattered over a
large area of rugged country (approx. 25km x 25km). Each checkpoint has
a score and the aim is to accumulate as many points as possible within
each day’s time limit. Distant and hard-to-access checkpoints carry
higher scores and there are tough penalties for exceeding the time limits.
The Challenge attracts all kinds of riders; from the serious competitor
to those in it just for a fun weekend. The event moves to a different
location each year. In 2006, the race's tenth anniversary, the Challenge
terrain straddles the recently proclaimed Black-Allan Border Line with
half the map area in Victoria around the village of Bendoc and half in
For further information, visit
Cannondale signs freerider George Ryan
After a breakthrough season, dropping the jaws of the freeride world
at the end of “Counterparts” DVD, George Ryan joins Aaron Chase, Mick
Hannah, Chris Van Dine, Carlo Deickman and Wayne Goss on the 2006 Cannondale
Unlike many other trick rider (whoc some from BMX or motocross backgrounds),
Ryan is a true two-sixer. A Long Island native, everything George knows
comes from mountain biking. Along with his freeride reume, Ryan comes
to Cannondale with two New York State Downhill Championship titles in
For 2006, Ryan will ride Cannondale's new Judge DH (with 220mm of staged
travel) along with a Prophet MX and Chase—all built to his spec.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)