Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Testing: Crank Brothers Cobalt XC Wheelset

I decided late last season that in 2009 I wanted to try Crank Brothers new Cobalt XC wheelset. Main reasons being both that I like to try new stuff and also because I thought they would match my new Anthem X0 perfectly.
Aesthetically the wheels are amazing. They have an overbuilt but minimalist look to them. I get tons of comments and compliments about them. If you own them you better learn if you like them and why. You are going to get asked that a lot.

The ride
What can I say....they roll along quite unspectacularly, which should be thought of as a good thing. They made it through my season drama free with just one loose spoke. They are fairly light which helps with steering and suspension responsiveness. They sealed up tubeless really easily and I only burped air once at Tremblant which was entirely my fault.

Specs and tech notes
Like I mentioned besides the loose spoke the wheels stayed very true. Bearings all remained intact and smooth rolling. The hubs utilize multiple cartridge bearings like many wheels and are super easy to take apart, mostly tool free. This includes disassembly for servicing including freewheel maintenance. Weight is a safe 1500grams, which is fairly common for this price range and is equal to their Shimano XTR and Mavic Crossmax SL rivals. Spoke tension is adjusted via the long blue spoke nipples where the stainless spokes thread in about 1/2 way through the diameter of the wheel. They are no more difficult to true than conventional wheel designs.
I did have some issues with the freewheel sporadically making a loud metallic pop. I also experienced this with my XTR 970 wheels last year. It's like the pawls don't fully engage and eventually pop into place under load. I experimented with different grease viscosity's and eventually found success with a fairly light coating of Rockshox Redrum which all but eliminated the ping.
On another note I also had a strange occurrence with the Cobalt's. I mounted up some Tubeless Ready Hutchinson Piranha's and have been running those for the past couple months. I kept having the tires slide on the rims under braking. Not hugely noticeable while riding but you could see it adding up over time since I always line the label up with the valve stem. Now I'm not sure if this was the tires or rims or both since I didn't run any different tires for any length of time. So just something to look out for. Could have just been a fluke so I'll have to investigate further.

My Impressions
So what do I think of the Cobalt's? They served their purpose very well. They made my bike look great, kept rolling along problem free, and even stayed perfectly true. I must say from a functional perspective these wheels really offer nothing special. Any design differences compared to Mavic or Shimano can really only be considered gimmicks. Despite this I was still very happy with them and would recommend them just as I would the XTR's and Crossmax's. Pretty much go for the ones that match your bike.

-easy tire sealing

Needs Work

-freewheel engagement

Value - 3 Power Rangers out of 5
Performance - One dozen delicious doughnuts out of a bakers dozen.

Actual weight
Front wheel - 703grams
Rear wheel - 860grams
Front skewer - 60grams
Rear skewer - 64grams
Valve stems - 6grams each

The Cobalts look pretty.

Tire sliding on rim. Note the valve stem used to be lined up in the middle of the printing on the tire.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Long live the king :-P

Soooo Paul's Dirty Enduro.... stayed in Peterborough with the family to cut down on travel time, err I mean to visit.
Was cold the morning of when I got up at a less than favorable 5am. Picked up my friend Dave who decided to take a crack at the 100km route for the first time. Got to the forest center good and early which was probably a bit of a waste cause we just ended up sitting in the car in the parking lot to stay warm.
Race started at 8am as the sun was just starting to rise. Headed out at a pretty hard tempo. Despite this a group of 10 leaders stayed together for the 1st hour and a bit. I broke off the front about 1/4 of the way through. Not gonna lie, I put on the MP3 player, settled into what I thought was a pretty high tempo and figured that was that.
Well at about the 40km mark I was surprised to notice another rider only 15 seconds or so back. I got a little bit larger of a gap before the 1/2 way point and had a short stop for new bottles which helped extend my lead even more. I settled back into my high tempo and figured I was checkin' out. That was not the case! Was caught again at about the 60km mark by one rider and we rode together. I could tell he was stronger because I would get a little gap in the twisties and he would catch up very quickly on a hill or open section. Got another gap at the 70km mark when he got a puncture. After another 30 min on my own he caught back up, Stan's had sealed the small puncture. He rode right by me this time and I had nothing in my legs to do anything about it. I was at about the 90+ km mark when I got to a part on a forest access road where I knew there should be a turn but there were no arrows. I looked down the trail and just caught a glimpse of a pink ribbon which we'd been following.
Well I cruised in the last <10km where I found out that he hadn't made the turn and would finish 5min or so after me.
There you have it. I wasn't the fastest rider there that day but I did cross the line first lol. Gonna have to train next time if I want to go for #6.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

This just in!

I have decided that next year I will do a 24 hour race solo since it is something I've wanted to do for a very long time. Just giv'r.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why Marzocchi deserves to fail as a company.

Today I had to change the remote lockout cable and housing on a Corsa. If you have ever had to do this you understand. Makes DT Swiss look logical.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Saturday September 19th. Paul's Dirty Enduro

Event info here:
Coming up on the 19th will be my favorite race of the year. Not only do we get to raise a bunch of money for the Canadian Mental Health Association but I also get to ride 100km's of awesome trails. If you have never done this event and are thinking about it I highly recommend you try it out. There are 100km, 60km, 30km, and 15km options. This year I will be gunning for my 5th overall win in a row in the 100km division. Please support the CMHA and me in my ride by clicking on the link and making a donation of any size.
Event report to come after the event.
King Ben

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sold - 2008 Kona Kula


O-Cup #7. Kelso

I have always enjoyed racing at Kelso. I was a little disappointed with the course last year since it really lacked a good downhill. I headed down to pre-ride on Saturday afternoon with the expectation that the recent rain showers would leave my pristine Anthem mud ridden once again. Well fortunately by the time I had gotten there the course was pretty much all dried out with the exception of some slippery rocks and a couple puddles, I stayed clean.
I was incredibly impressed with the course. The usual long grind up the fire road led into some amazingly fast double and single track. There was the usual twistier stuff up top with some rock overs that was ridden the faster direction. About half way through we got a great rocky drop descent where you could really keep some scary speed if willing. This led you down to the main DH which was more open and also amazingly fast and fun. After that you shot out of the woods, rode down an open patch and hit the brakes late and hard for the last little rocky trail before heading back up to the top once more. There was some fast double track which led pretty quickly into the last descent which was tighter and added nice variety. In short, 2 big climbs, 2 awesome super long descents, and some great lightning fast single track for good measure. It truly was Provincials worthy.
I was pretty casual about the whole weekend. I know I haven't really been training. Been too busy having fun doing other stuff like eating cake. Honestly didn't expect to have a great race. I was relying on residual fitness from earlier in the year. One advantage I had was the whole 135lb body weight thing which comes in handy for a course with tons of climbing. Plus I've been mountain biking so much that my single track riding is the best it has ever been.
Race started out at a fairly reasonable pace. Kept a good spin going and didn't go into my red zone. I really didn't think that I had the fitness to maintain a hard pace and I didn't want to completely blow up having already done that at Mountainview. Was climbing well and the single track was flying by. I started picking up a few spots and was probably around 12th place by the 3rd lap. I had dropped Danny Souter and Haydn Boucher by the start of the 3rd lap and was right up on Ryan Atkins. I passed Ryan at the top of the first climb and he looked tired. I gassed it a little to see if I could get a gap but he was determined to stay with me. He actually managed to drop me by the start of the 5th lap and Danny had caught back up too. Since all of my laps times were so close I attribute this to them changing their pace and not me since I didn't want to put in that extra effort due to the lack of endurance. That is until the last lap. I still had some legs left and decided I better leave them on the hill. I caught and passed Danny back 1/2 way up the first climb on the last lap. He hung with me until the next pitch where I attacked again and decided to try and maintain that pace until the finish. I actually caught another rider, Mark Batty about 1/2 way through the lap and continued to hold a gap on Danny. I could still look back and see that I only had a 100m on him so I had to keep the head down and the drool flowing to not lose some spots. Lets be honest here, it's the last race of the year so you better put in a good effort or you're gonna regret it all winter.
So I held on and finished 10th. I was pleased with that result but more importantly I was glad I could push myself so hard and I was really glad that the course was so much fun. This one will go down as one of my favorite events so far.
Found a couple good pics courtesy of some folks.
Still have Pauls Dirty Enduro to look forward too so until then enjoy the late summer single track.