It's been a while since I've been this excited about a new product. I first spotted TowWhee bungee's last year when riding in Colorado, there was a bike event in this quaint town called Fruita, naturally we had to go and have a look around, plus my great mate from America and supplier of Sticky Pods and Fork Corks was there exhibiting so I was looking forward to seeing him.
I've always wanted a product like this for years so I was delighted to see someone actually making one at long last. So it is with great pleasure I now handle TowWhee in the UK, selling direct to customers through my website and to bike shops and trail centres allowing them to supply their customers in store.
As soon as stock arrives around the end of this month I will be having lots of fun showing off this clever product to my existing dealers plus new shops and trail centres. Along with that I plan on getting lots of filming done showing how easy it is to pull a child or adult up a hill, hopefully I will get lots of pictures and videos from customers using the TowWhee for me to repost on Instagram.
So for now thats it from me, have a great week and don't forget to comment if you have something you want to ask me.
Well here she is, I know I said I was going to post pictures of the bike going together in stages but in the end it all came together on the same day, sorry about that, but just look at how gorgeous she is, I'm well happy with the finished bike.
So, how doe's it ride?, really well actually, it fits me like it was custom made to fit me perfectly, but in reality its just an off the shelf 19" frame, the 120mm forks and the 50mm stem combined with the low rise handlebars keep the front end planted on the trail, and the MSC tyres are surprisingly grippy for a low tread pattern.
Now I have time on the bike thoughts turn to changes to the bike to tune it further.
On its last ride out, a gruelling 37 miles around Cranbourne it turned out that the 34t chainring is a little big and not giving me a low enough gear for my tired legs, don't get me wrong, I still made it up all the climbs without getting off, but I was right at the limit of what I can push at times so another cog to drop down would be nice, I'll wait for Middleburn to finish the new one piece Boost rings and grab a 32t as soon as they are ready.
Other than that, its pretty much perfect as is, I am going to fit the not yet released Rotor Hydraulic gear set when it come out it funds will allow it, with the price yet to be decided I have no idea if it will just be a little extravagance or down right stupid expensive, I guess we will just have to wait and see.
What good is a frame without a nice set of forks to hold it up.
Actually it goes much further than that, a thin legged wimpy fork will not give you any confidence in the corners and over the rough stuff, and poor damping will have you bouncing all over the trail, and don't think that unless you are doing downhill racing this doesn't apply to you, if you ride anything more than tow paths you will benefit from a nice set of Suspension forks.
I've be hearing really good things about these forks, MRP are still fairly new to the Suspension fork market compared to the likes of RockShox and Fox but they have a growing following, they certainly feel very smooth giving them a push down in the office, plus there is lots of dials and buttons to play with, I like stuff like that.
See those little buttons on the lower legs, they allow the rider to relieve air build up in the fork legs, they called them PSST valves, can't think why... ha.
Two other things to note, unlike all other makes of suspension forks MRP took the unusual step in taking an arch and spinning it round, this is so mud doesn't get trapped in the pockets of the arch plus it gives the front of the fork a distinctive look, some may say ugly but I rather like it, I certainly approve of the non mud trapping design, and that takes me seamlessly onto the the other thing I wanted to point out...
That Miles Wide Industries 'Fork Cork', no bike of mine is complete without one, it's one of the products I distribute but this one is a little more special as it was my idea, well the mud bung bit was, but Miles who loved the idea took it a step further and made it into a removable storage plug. Just a quick turn of the adjuster and it comes out, allowing you to store items such as money, keys, energy gels/sweets, even a CO2 canister and trigger can fit, you just need to be cunning in how you stuff stuff up there, once you have done that, another twist and its tight again, holding fast and stopping water and mud from building up in the steerer tube.
Ugly as sin or a clever design? I'll let you decide, its very industrial looking thats for sure.
RRP at the time of writing this is £849, see Ison Distribution for more info and stockist information
Every once in a while I have a strong desire to build a new bike, thats because for me at least there is no one bike that does it all, and thats where the N+1 rule comes into play.
What is N+1 I hear you ask, well it is the number of bikes you own plus one more, so you technically never have enough bikes.
At the moment my bike fleet is rather thin, Just my amazing Yeti SB6, and an ageing Trek road bike, I did have a Stooge Mk2 but I'm to soft now to ride rigid bikes any more, so that was moved on to make way for an all new build, the Tandem has gone as well, as has the obligatory Single Speed MTB, Folder, BMX, Dirt Jumper and Unicycle all gone due to lack of space or urge to ride them.
I love building bikes, I spend ages thinking about the setup that would work best for me, you see for me there is no perfect bike, you can buy or build something that works well for where you ride and how you like to ride, but a nice light XC bike will not make a great downhill bike and vice a versa, my Yeti come very close as a great Enduro/Trail bike but it should do, it cost as much as a good second hand car, plus, in my opinion if you are into your cycling you really must have at least two bikes, that way when one is being fixed or you haven't gotten round to cracking the mud off if it from the last ride you always have a second bike ready for use.
So for this bike I wanted a bike that reflected my personality and the things that mean the most to me about cycling, for the frame material, well there was only one choice and that was steel, its what my first bikes used, titanium is lovely and truth be told if budget would have allowed I may have gone that way, however, I really wanted a painted finish, and there is no way I would ever consider a titanium frame that was painted, plus with the money saved on the material choice it leaves me more for the components.
So the natural choice after lots of research was the Stanton Sherpa, Reynolds 853 tubing and a respected British company it's a big tick from me. Geometry is long and slack so it should be a fun handling bike.
This will be the first 29" bike I've ever owned, I wanted a bike that was more XC but is still capable of doing Enduro/Trail type riding, I love my Yeti bike, its so capable but unless you are on the ragged edge I don't get the same thrill as I would skipping around on a hardtail.
I will update this blog as the bike comes together, I will explain my reasons for the parts I pick and the challenges in piecing it together.
My son Jordan has an old classic car in the form of a 1966 Singer Chamois although you might know it better as a Hillman Imp, he bought it before he passed his driving test and as such has never driven it as he pulled it apart shortly after getting it, now 4 years later its on the road to becoming a car again, the shell is booked in for a respray over christmas and parts are arriving daily, some of which I get given to re assemble as I have a little more patience in working with old and fiddly jobs.
Today was the steering rack, all the parts got a good clean and inspection, as these racks can leak, oil was ditched in favour of grease, more specifically LandRover Swivel Housing Grease, another part on a vehicle that was filled with oil in the past that now favours grease, this grease is very runny and gets everywhere, so was perfect for the job. New rubber boots had been purchased as the old ones were split, although I don't think you would be able to remove old ones without wrecking them, this was by far the toughest part of the job, it took some effort to get it on but once done it looked proper good.
Primera Sport put on this Cycle Show in the BIC showing all the latest gear to get us looking into our bank accounts and wondering if we can sneak in one more bike without someone rumbling us. There was attendance from lots of companies that they deal with, plus the welcome inclusion of Zwift, the clever trainer app to get you enjoying riding your bike indoors.
so I get this message, fancy riding with Jens Voigt next weekend...
I have a friend that I've known for many years thats a bit mad, I don't mean mad in a bad way, quite the contrary, he just seems to pack so much into his days I can't believe he can keep going like he does. Stuart Grace is a sail maker by day and charity fundraiser at all other times, having a daughter with Epilepsy, ADHD and learning disabilities for over 17 years, and has a relative receiving care at a hospice, quite how he finds the time to go fundraising I do not know.
For the last 5 years he has organised a fantastic event in the New Forest called the Shut Up Legs Charity Bike Ride. It's put on to raise money for the Epilepsy Society plus a few other worthy charities. Local shops and international companies provide prizes but it's the star in the form of Super Domestique Jens Voigt that gives the event its name, you see "Shut Up Legs" is Jens's saying, like when you have to dig super deep to keep going. If you don't know who he is look him up, he's probably one of the toughest riders ever and definitely one of the nicest riders on the planet.
So Stuart calls me up saying there is a spare place available if I want to ride, little did he know that until about 4 days earlier I did not possess a road bike. So off I go on Saturday to do 52 miles riding in a group of 10 riders, (they split the riders into 10 groups of about 10 in each group). I'm on a old Trek Carbon bike of the Lance Armstrong era, with some massive gearing and super twitchy race geometry. I also looked a bit of a tool with a MTB lid with the peak removed, hairy legs, and Mountain Bike shoes & pedals, but I made up for that with a super tight pair of bib tights that was Jens old team kit and a Small Sticky Pod in my jersey pocket with 2 bottles on the bike instead of my usual hydration bag. It's quite special to be on a ride in the New Forest on a lovely day with a nice bunch of people and then having Jens Voigt pull up next to you for a chat whilst you admire the scenery.
After the ride there was a raffle to raise a few more pounds with some amazing prizes followed by a photo and signing with the great man himself. I took the opportunity to give Jens something and he seemed genuinely happy with the Custom Nox Sox Pedal Covers that I had had printed with his "Shut Up Legs" tag line, plus I also gave him a Sticky Pod because no rider should be without one, although he did say he reckoned his kids will nab that off of him. The day was finished off with a Q and A with Jens, he was very witty and wanted interesting questions that he hasn't been asked before. If you believed the stereotype that Germans don't have a sense of humour you were in for a surprise. So that was my day, spent with a lovely bunch of people and a true legend plus I was lucky to be sent some pictures by Michael S Marks for proof that I didn't make the whole thing up, as if.
If you would like to donate to Stuart Grace's Just Giving page click here...www.justgiving.com/stuart-grace2/4w350m3/donate?cbuster=636401544148106831#MessageAndAmount
It's been a painful couple of months being out of Sticky Pods but that ended on Friday when a nice man from FedEx delivered boxes of stock fresh from Miles Wide Industries in the US of A.
Also in is a MK2 version of Sticky Fingers, they are covers for your brake levers to improve grip and control, plus making them less cold in extreme temperatures, they also come in 7 colours to brighten up your bike.
Wet Seal is a lube to keep your suspension units and dropper seat post moving smoothly, the new bottle now has a pipette to allow for easier application and is a must have product for anyone that wants to keep their bike in good order.
And an all new product in the form of the Fork Cork was the most exciting new product to come in, its a bung that fits in the hole in the bottom of your suspension fork, it keeps mud and crud out plus due to the design allows easy removal so you can use the fork steerer tube as a storage device, its so neat everyone should have one.
It was decided that it was high time that myself and my good friend Thomas take my tandem out for a ride on the heath, we thought it would be great to film it after seeing Seths & Phil's MTB Tandem Adventure on YouTube, so armed with a few cameras and another friend in the form of Ian from the Dorset Rough Riders to help with the filming we convened at my house to discuss the plan.
Now the reason I got the tandem in the first place was to get my wife riding with me more, Diane was apprehensive about the idea well before I finally found a MTB tandem thinking she would be terrified, I blindly thought that things would be very different but this is one instance where I should have listened to my wife, as it turned out that one whimpering ride was enough for her, if only I did that before I upgraded the brakes/wheels/drivetrain/cockpit components and suspension fork, I even tried to get her to ride as captain and I would be the stoker, well we traveled about 5 feet and stopped as she could not get it to go in a straight line, tandems do feel different with the steering but with the handlebars swinging left to right at a speed so fast it became a blur it was clear this wasn't working either, so I got back on the front and Diane reluctantly climbed back on to whimper her way back to the house, I must say that the whimpering was unnecessary as I was taking it very easy but its easy to say that when its not you hanging onto the back of a bike with no brakes, a handlebar that doesn't move, pedals seemingly with a mind of there own, and a view of not a lot apart from the back of the rider in front.
So after watching Seths vid, see here as its ace youtu.be/MH9zTVJJ_Yw Tom and I said lets get the tandem out sometime, but we will wait till after our trip to Moab, just in case, you know, something silly happens, hmm, we must have sensed something, so we get ready to ride for the first time down the lane from the house to the heath, Toms on the back and I'm steering, well it was a wobbly start, and I had a bit of the left right lefts going just like Diane had with me, turns out if the person at the back doesn't pedal at least as hard as the pilot the person at the front doing all the work can suddenly have more to deal with than just everything else, plus to add a touch of jeopardy we also had two Hungarian Vizsla dogs to contend with, they are proper trail dogs and know not to get in the way but none the less when you don't even know where you are steering it added to the challenge early on.
Steering now sorted we cracked on riding and soon enough we were at our first challenge, tackled on a normal bike its hardly anything, a gravel track down a slope that divides before coming back together and then onto a bend with a short bank to ride over, so after riding to the top we set off plunging down the hill before turning onto the gravel track, its at that point I realise that even with 203mm rotors all round stopping suddenly becomes an impossibility, slowing yes, stopping no, thoughts of my first bike, some hunk of junk shopper type, with brake pads with bits of leather in the rubber to I assume dry the chrome rims when they got wet sprung to mind, but this time I'm threading a tandem down a track with Tom along for the ride, its at that point the whimpering returned, although it was more of nervous laughter with a dash of panic about it, but we made it down and stopped to reset for another shot laughing uncontrollably at the sketchiness of it all, but this time I asked Tom if he wanted to pilot and I jumped on the back, well I have to say I think he did better than me piloting, although that might be to do with my pillion skills, or at least thats what I'm telling myself.
So we had both ridden the tandem at this point and thats when the suggestion that Ian have a go on the back came up, in hindsight we should have ridden for a few more miles and had Ian get the feel before plunging down the narrow track but we were buzzing and wanted Ian to have a laugh as well, so off we go once more, this time I'm up front and Ian is on the back, up the hill we go once again, we turn at the top and start the ride down to the narrow track, no whimpers this time, Ian seems to be relaxed and trusting of my biking skills, this is when things then go very wrong and very quickly, heading down the track it splits and rejoins, I was planning to ride the path to the right as we had done before but it wasn't turning tight enough and it was looking that we would be riding right over a grassy clump with a more abrupt drop after it, so seeing as stopping in time was out of the question I thought we will just have to roll with it and so bars held tightly I hoped for the best..... I managed to hold the handlebars straight as we rode off the grassy clump however the forks and front wheel had other ideas, a very sharp squeak can be heard in the video as the fork steerer slipped on the handlebar stem, turns out tight isn't tight enough when it comes to a bike with double the weight on it, so with the front wheel at 90deg to the handlebars this was only going to end one way and down we came with a thump, poor Ian let out a very large groan as he hit the deck, this is when you have one of those massive pangs of guilt, I did this I thought, poor Ian on the ground and clutching his chest clearly in a lot of pain, I don't think that if Ian ever thought about how he would be leaving this world it would have been on the back of a tandem on Canford Heath, and me being someone that doesn't like messing up other peoples plans was relived to see that although very sore he would live to ride again, just this time in charge and on a bike made for one.
Check out the video below and don't forget to comment, you can do so here and on YouTube.
Well it's been taking longer than I hoped but the revised Sticky Pods are not far off, hopefully not more than a few weeks, it will be worth the wait though, with a new side zip for the clear phone pouch allowing for easier removal of your phone or anything else you put in there.
On the other side the lower pocket will be stitched down the middle dividing the pocket into two narrower pockets, this will work better for holding tyre levers and co2 canisters upright in the pouch.
Lastly, there is a new Sticky Pod to join the family, its called the Micro and comes in a couple of colourful camo finishes, I reckon these little pods will prove popular due to the compact size and although they won't hold as much as the Small and Large pods, they will be ideal for smaller pockets, will work nicely as a secondary pouch and maybe the perfect Pod for the younger generation getting into the sport we love.