Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Testing - Avid Elixir R Hydraulic Disk Brake Review

Out of the box
Well first impressions of this brake are great. It has a nice beefy look and great attention to detail. There is no bulky reservoir, it is nicely integrated into the master cylinder (aka brake lever). I instantly look for features like banjo fittings and pad retaining system. More on that stuff later.
The G3 rotors look great though I wish there was a centre-lock version.

On the trail

This is where the Elixir's really show their stuff. Braking power is among the best I've experienced. Even after some mileage it doesn't seem like they are suffering from rotor glaze at all. They still perform like new with that bitey metallic feel. This could be attributed to the aggressive slotting (or cut-outs) in the rotor. I can't tell yet if this will adversely affect pad life but a new, larger surface area pad should offset any extra wear from the new rotor.
Talk about power! These things are 1 finger braking at its finest. Not too grabby but keep adding pressure and the brake responds with a nice linear power curve with zero sponge (ahem Juicy).

Technical features
Lets talk about banjo mounts. I like em, they are easy to work on and give you an adjustable hose entry angle (no perverted jokes please). The Elixir R doesn't have them which is a bit of a shame. Saving grace is that they actually come on the upgraded CR model so it gives you an excuse to spend the extra $.
The master cylinder has an "easy" adjust lever position dial built in. It adjusts how far the lever sits from the bar, it has nothing to do with lever throw. There was a lever throw adjust on most of the Juicy models which really didn't seem to do much. Back to the Elixir "easy" adjust dial which really isn't easy to turn at all. Seems to get jammed up and mostly has to be adjusted while gloveless. Not a huge deal since you only really need to adjust it once to your liking and never touch it again.
The new pad retaining system uses a bolt like many Shimano systems to securely hold the pad and is waaaaay easier than that crappy Juicy system which sucked. With the Elixir you just loosen and remove the small Torx bolt and pop the old pads out and new ones in. Tighten the bolt back up and go ride.
The master cylinder may look beefy but it actually has a very small footprint on the bar. It does have a fairly long profile, especially for one finger braking, but thanks to its accommodating shape I easily mounted it to the inside of my XT shifters.

I think this brake is my new number one. I'm not going to completely jump to conclusions here since I don't have a ton of hours on it and I have yet to bleed one. I already like it a pile more than the Juicy which was really a sub par brake with a lot of issues. I love how solid it feels with a nice snappy return action and no mush. It is sexy to boot. Specifically the Elixir R is the best brake I've used in the $200 category.

- light weight (Elixir R is actually lighter than the fancy carbon CR model)
- price
- braking power and consistency
- looks

- no banjo mounts on Elixir R caliper
- lever reach adjustment dial is hard to turn
- no Avid centre-lock rotor option

Value - 22 delicious advent calendar chocolates
Performance - 15 feet out of an 18 foot tall Griswold family Christmas tree.

Lever Profile, rather long but mounts inside shifter.

Cool G3 rotor. Great braking.

Pads just drop in. I didn't even have to take the wheel off.

Adjustment Dial. Hard to use, half of it is hidden by the shifter.

New, larger pads don't help with power but do accommodate a larger caliper piston which does increase clamping force.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

One legged drills and Porsche spills

Just finished up a short fun one legged drill ride. One leg at a time for one minute at a time for just 20min. Boy if you ever want to feel useless on a bike give this a shot. Flex your abs and squeeze you butt for core stability and to support your hip flexors. Good little drill to compliment your program.

Oh and just on a side note I was sorta in a car wreck as a passenger in a $150 000 GT3. Hit the wall in turn 3 at Mosport at about 100km/h. No harm done to me or driver except mild whiplash but my heart does go out to the family of the GT3.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

November Nights

So how is your November training going? Pffff training in November, yeah right.....right? Anyways no matter what you do don't be afraid to throw a leg over. Frozen dirt is super tacky and rolls fast, it's a good time and no damn bugs. The key is clothing in layers. I was at about Def con 2 tonight.

Light booties, gloves, touque, and my good friend SCMR-16 is how you do tempo rides in November. A good pair of clear glasses keep your eyes from glazing over.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Testing - Trail Tech SCMR-16 Bicycle Light

Every once in a while a product comes along that redefines your standards. It transforms you into a rolling salesman much to the annoyance of anyone caught in your path. The Trail Tech my friends is one of those products. Let me summarize it like this for you; it is more than twice as bright and half the price of anything else worth comparing to it.
Now this is not a flavour of the month thing for me. I used to night ride a ton in the winter when I lived in a town that didn't get so much white stuff. I have owned this light for 4 years now and put a ton of mileage on it. The SCMR-16 was conceived by the company Trail Tech for motorcycles and ATV's. Some riders have even used it in the prestigious and insane Paris-Dakar rally. It was designed to be hardwired right to your motorized vehicles power supply. Enter BatterySpace, sort of a slightly sketchy 3rd party battery company that offered a Lithium Ion battery solution to power this beast.
Though I had my concerns about the reliability of the battery I forged ahead and went through with the order.
After a lot of use I must say I have no complaints about my BatterySpace experience but I have still heard bad reviews so I don't give them a full recommendation. Trail Tech now offers complete cycling kits with LiIon batteries so I would suggest buying straight from them which my friend did.

Out of the Box

First thing that struck me was the bulk of the headlamp. Actually it came with a cheap useless bar mount and was never really designed to be used as a helmet light but that wasn't going to stop me. I jimmy rigged it with some strapping, a cut apart NiteRider mount, and half of a scotch tape roll core. The light got its own designated helmet courtesy of my old Giro Monza that didn't match my new kit (no one can tell in the dark). Soon to be moved to my Bell Sweep, going with the new Volt next year.
The battery is contained in a large-ish waterbottle but is surprisingly light. Everything connects together nicely with one way plugs which have a screw collar to keep them secure. A simple on/off switch which mounts on the helmet is easy to operate. All wiring was done by BatterySpace and I have no complaints.

The Details
The battery is a powerhouse and gets me about 3 hours of light, even after 4 years. It takes about 7 hours to charge, roughly twice as long as others but you gotta remember it is powering a 30 watt HID which is 2x the wattage.
Like I mentioned the bulb is a 30 watt HID which produces a ridiculous 1850 lumens. To put that into perspective, the $900 top of the line NiteRider is 900 lumens. There are two beam patterns to chose from, spot and flood. I chose flood which is perfect for singletrack. My friend has the spot which throws insanely far and is a newer slightly slimmer design.
The light can get hot, especially in warmer summer nights. It has an auto shutoff to prevent meltdown which can be abrupt and terrifying as day instantly turns to night. It turns itself back on when it cools down which is pretty cool.

Out on Trail
The good part about the extra power is that there is no real hot spot. I don't even need to point the light, it is just bright everywhere. It is a warm white light, not blue, and creates very little shadow effect giving great depth perception. Crazy though I still feel like I could use more light. I can out ride the reach of the flood on doubletrack so I was toying with the idea of running the flood on the bar and a spot on the head. This is just me being picky though. Ride this light on the road or around town at night and laugh as cars stop and flash their highbeams, drunk teenagers scream and run (no joke). Me and my friend also had a city bus stop to take a closer look fearing the apocalypse. This light is all business and does its job very well. I would buy another one in a heartbeat and probably will.

30 watt HID
1850 lumens
11.1 volt 10400mAh battery
$379 USD

Bright is an understatement
Very good value
Auto heat switch prevents melting

Big and heavy
Gets hot

Value - 1800 lumens out of 1850 lumens
Performance - 9000 mAh out of 10400 mAh

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

First Flakes

Well there was no denying or ignoring it. Small patches of sunshine were broken up by bouts of showers, sleet, hail, and yes big ol snowflakes. Got me thinking of last year and how the snow came fast and plentifull mid November and stayed for the season. Don't get me wrong, I love the snow. Can't wait to get out skate skiing again at Hardwood.
Also coming up is a yearly tradition of mine, The Tall Pines Rally. See I like motorsports almost as much as I like cycling. Snow always makes this event more interesting. You should check it out if you get the chance. Come watch celebraties like Dave Mirra and Ken Block throw down against the pros. Check out this link for more info.
Keep er sideways,