Brantford Cyclepath Blog

We Know Bikes


January 2017

Look What The Cat Dragged In – 2016


If you’re going to make a career out of working in a bike shop, it stands to reason that you’d better like looking at bikes. Lots of them. Every day. They’d better make your heart race a little bit faster. Make your pulse quicken. If you’re going to be a REALLY great bike shop employee you’d best be fairly well rounded in your tastes. If you work in a bike shop you’re going to see all kinds of bicycles from all decades and of every genre. Embrace them all. As the saying goes, “too many bikes, not enough time”.

Every year we see tons of really cool bikes. Some of them are rare. Some of them are unusual. Some of them are what we call “survivors”. Bikes that should have been used up long ago, but are still in fantastic condition. What follows is a sampling of what rolled through the door in the past year, and made us sit up and take notice…. for whatever reason.

That cromoly steel, blue Specialized Stumpjumper up there in the opening shot made me particularly weak in the knees. For two reasons. First off, it’s all original. Secondly, it showed up at the very start of the year. Talk about a potentially good omen for things to come! This bike has remarkably low mileage, hence its pure originality. It wears grey Umma Gumma tires, which was a series of tires that were developed by Specialized to be stickier than normal rubber. There’s a matching grey saddle with a longer nose, designed so that you could scoot forward on longer climbs to pin the front end of the bike down. Shimano XT drivetrain. Those Specialized resin toe clips were the best ones you could buy. ┬áThe bike is long and low, just look at that stem. This was the hot race setup of the day.


Here’s an aluminum Stumpjumper that came in. Check out the long stem and those Manitou forks. This one would be a good candidate for a restoration since the paint is in nice shape.


Here’s one that I couldn’t believe that I was actually standing in the presence of. This is a completely all original Amp Research dual suspension bike. The fork was designed by a suspension pioneer named Horst Lietner. The amount of aluminum machining on this bike makes your eyes ache. Check out the super rare Bullet Bros chain tension arm behind the rear derailleur (go ahead and Google it). RaceFace Turbine LP cranks. This was a mountain bikers dream, and way out of reach price wise.


The Amps fork linkages. Art work.


Who doesn’t love the buttery smooth, almost non-existent welds of Gary Kleins aluminum frames? This Attitude Comp was modestly built with some cool components that weren’t over the top.


Here’s a fantastic Cannondale F1000 that ticked all of the boxes. Headshok fork. Top end components including Cannondales own Coda cranks wherein the arms, spider and chainrings are made from a single piece of aluminum. Smooth double passed welds and a polished natural finish.


It wasn’t all mountain bikes either. We loved this modern carbon Bianchi because it’s A) a Bianchi, B) it’s Italian and C) it’s celeste green.


Just to give the French their due, here’s a beautiful little Peugeot randonneur bike in candy apple red. Completely original and from the ’70s, this little survivor has all of the extra trim, including rubber brake lever covers and a factory installed dynamo lighting set and carrier rack. It just needs the pump to be found…..


…. along with some light TLC.


Rounding everything out is a vintage American entry. This is a Schwinn Starlett III ladies roadster. Where to begin? It’s all original. It has a fantastic porteur rack on the front that can either carry cargo on its own, or lend extra support to a fully laden basket.


The Schwinn emblazoned, two tone seat is a blast from the past. Everything was automobile influenced back then and the “tailfins and taillights” design of the rear carrier rack goes to show this as true.


The coolest part? It’s a gas tank inspired electric horn. Press the button and impress your friends. And yes, it worked.

That’s a sampling of some of the bikes that were a little out of the ordinary and managed to make us smile. It’s now a whole new year. I wonder what the cat has in store for us this time…..






Does This New Wheel Make Me Look Fat?


Looking ahead into 2017, we feel REALLY happy for mountain bikers. There will be so many different ways to satisfy your dirt cravings and you’ll want to explore them all. However, this particular blog posting will focus on the newest and most exciting mountain bike wheel size. The 27.5+, if you want to talk in imperial measurements, or the 650B+ if you wish to talk in metric terms. See how easy that was? We’ve just cleared up one of the things that confuse people when talking about plus sized bikes.

So, what is this plus sized thing all about anyways, and why is the bike industry so giddy over it? Over the past few years we’ve seen the adoption and increase in popularity of both the fatbike, with its 4 or 5 inch tires on 26 inch wheels, and the mid sized 27 inch wheeled mountain bike with its standard 2 inch tires.


Fatbikes offer previously unheard of levels of grip in any situation, be it attacking a difficult rooted climb in the middle of July, or trekking across a snow covered field in the dead of winter. There are those that are keen in their commitment to going full fat, but there are many cyclists that desire the benefits of extra tire volume but don’t feel the need for such a big tire.


Enter the 27.5+ tire. It’s the fatter one up there next to a standard 29 inch wheel with 2 inch wide tires. With its 3 inch wide tire installed on a wider version of the new 27.5 inch wheel, it provides far more grip and “float” on loose surfaces than a standard mountain bike tire, but doesn’t have the extra rolling resistance and weight penalty of some full fatbike setups. This big tire is still very nimble and trail capable all year round. The extra air volume really adds cushion to rougher trails and the tall height offers increased momentum for some surprising speed. It’s a little bit fat and a little bit skinny.


Guess what the coolest part of this whole entire wheel jumble is? The bike above is made by a brilliant American frame builder named Jeff Jones. This particular bike is set up with a 27.5+ wheel on the back….. and a full fatbike wheel up front. The wider tire out front will provide extra float in loose situations while the narrower back tire is lighter and more nimble. Here’s the thing. If you look at both wheels, the HEIGHT of the tires is the same. This is where it gets fun. If you own a full fatbike, you can use both 4 or 5 inch wide fatbike wheel setups, the new 27.5+ wheels, AND standard 29 inch wheels. Use them in matching pairs, or get creative and mix them up like Jeff did on the bike above. If you decide to go with one of the new 27.5+ bikes, you can use the original wheels or standard 29 inch wheels. This is because the overall tire heights are all the same and therefore the geometry of the bike is not adversely affected. Be aware that the various hubs have to be compatible with whatever frame and fork combo you use. In the graphic below, a fatbike wheel would be the same height as the 650B+ and 29in examples. Depending on which fatbike tire you used, there may be some variation in height, due to some sidewalls being taller than others.


It’s all pretty neat stuff. This is why we’re excited and this is why the industry is excited about the new 27.5+ wheel setup. If you’re a recreational trail rider looking to add some rougher trails and bigger hits to your afternoon ride, or extend your season into the winter months, then this new group of bikes is aimed squarely at you!





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