IPATH wants your soul

IPATH, the skate company who make clothes and shoes like this non-offensive looking black number have now got a bmx team. If you want to know team details etc you can check them here.

Just like when any outsider comes into bmx, the "rape our women, steal our children" mentality is afoot and they've been accused of wanting to bleed the sport dry. It's kind of like a mini version of when Nike came on the scene. If you haven't seen it already, there's a really good feature on a blog called 20 negative about Nike entering bmx (yes, physically and metaphorically) They got characters of the calibre of Joe Rich, Nuno from Odyssey and John Povah (Etnies TM) plus a few to give their opinions on the matter. It makes for interesting reading and is pretty relevant to the whole IPATH thing.

Nike and IPATH aside, I don't really see the need for a company to "put back into bmx", so long as they've got a good product. If a brand chooses as part of their marketing to put on events and support loads of riders then good luck to them, but in the end, it's the investment in making a better product, that'll win me over.

One thing that I see as a real positive about IPATH is that they have a green angle on the materials and manufacturing of their stuff - that's something that so far we don't have much of. Bmx might have it's share of environmentally minded, anti-consumerism, build-trails-on-a-farm-and-grow-your-own-food types, but there aren't so many companies that are willing to take the risk and put these kind of values out there. Maybe it'd be too unpopular, maybe they don't care, maybe it'd cost too much - who knows?

FBM etc do their veggie oil bus trips and Superstar have a "Nature Blog", but no one is really putting it out there as a feature of their products, so that's at least one positive to come out of an evil skate brand coming to steal your cash. Now I'm off to ride my bamboo bike.

The New Simple

A while back I posted up some stuff about Simple Bike Co. I put my appreciation on the record for their minimalist approach to the design of bmx parts. Well now they've got a new site up and they've used that same approach in the design of the site, keeping it... basic.

To go with the new site there's a few new products and new colours for the older stuff.

There are no less than two new rim designs with a bit of an old school feel to them and a bit of pun trickery going on with the names:

Apparently the Keypit is the more tech of the two - which I assume means lighter, while the Plainan takes some inspiration from the old Peregrine HP48 but, like the Keypit, is drilled offset for cross lacing. They both are available in 36 hole only and come in the same colours as the seatclamps below.

In those same colours they've now got cassettes, wheelsets, a few stems and pivotal seat posts... loads of stuff.

Capitalist Pegs

Don't be fooled by the picture - This is serious mum!

In the last few years pegs, those simple, humble metal tubes have been designed to within an inch of their lives and are now fully fledged tools of capitalism.

You pay more for them than ever (yes, yes, Plegs excluded) and their lifespans are shorter than ever. They've become semi disposable. Of course really they are just keeping up with the state of things. You change your computer every couple of years, you change your phone yearly and you buy new pegs every six month. Hooray for capitalism - everyone wins. People love to have new things and companies love to sell the stuff. Perfect. There are a few down sides but lets not talk about them...

But this new wave of capitalist pegs must be ticking boxes. The amount of new light weight (read: short lifespan) pegs available growing, it seems that most people are willing to pay the money to save the weight.

Not Plegs, I hear you say. Plegs are cheap. Yeah, but even if you divide the dollars spent by the lifespan of the peg?

On that topic: The bitter battle of the Plegs continues to be waged on the SPRFLS site. And George from G-Sport has made a pretty long and interesting reply that's worth reading. He talks a bit about the curse of the colourway - basically to make a dollar in bmx you've got to keep up with demand for endless colour variations.

Plegs are now ticking that box.
In fact they are kind of like the perfect storm of modern bmx parts - they combine 3 of the things that people get really upset about: they're plastic, they're light, and they come in a bunch of candy coloured variations. If they had a low slung top tube and wore tight jeans, people would be burning effigies of them at skateparks all over the world. As they are they just tend to bring out spite and slander from people who have never even ridden them.

Maybe pegs fire people up like this because it's such an obvious change. In the space of 6 or 7 years pegs have gone from being 300g (3/4 lb) lumps of steel that you'd bash on things for years to 100g (3.8oz) pink translucent plastic sleeves that you update to match you hair colour.

It must have hurt G-Sport's sales when just around the time that Plegs were about to drop that 7075 aluminium pegs started poping up. I think it was Tree that started the ball rolling with their Trick Sticks. (?) The aluminium pegs are the same weight as the plastic pegs, but in my experience last a lot longer.

Tree Trick Sticks. Weight: 1.5” dia. = 108g/ 3.9oz each, 1.375” dia = 97g/ 3.5oz each

I think everyone had just always assumed that since you couldn't really grind an aluminium rail, that aluminium pegs would be useless. This is off the Tree website:
These aluminum pegs grind faster than titanium on steel. Just to clear any confusion, aluminum is not inherently a high friction material. Everyone has had there experience of aluminum railing being very slow, but aluminum railing is made of a very soft corrosion resistant grade. Like all metals, the higher quality grades are harder and have a lower friction coefficient. Skateboard trucks have always been made of aluminum.
So aluminium is OK, but what about this one way shit?

One way shit:
Colony One Way: 110 g / 3.88 oz
Fly Alloy: 89 g / 3.1 oz
Eastern Slit: 119 g / 4.2 oz

In my book this is one of the less useful ideas going around.

A peg that shaves some grams by having less material on the top - so in effect rather than being able to rotate your peg 10+ times, you have just one spot to grind on it. That equals one tenth the life - or at best one fifth, if you take into account some extra thickness on the bottom of the peg. So you save a bit of weight and lose a lot of life. And they're expensive. Weirdly enough, Colony came out with the idea and companies just copied them.

So spend some money, take your pick, save some weight, style it up - capitalist pegs. They're all the rage.

Straight to the Source

There's no secret about the fact that just about everything on your bike originated in Taiwan, so why not buy it direct from Taiwan? Cut out the middle man so to speak?

You'd get exactly the same pivotal stump post, or whatever, but without paying for the image points accrued from your particular brand loyalty. And as we all know riding's got absolutely nothing to do with buying an image so what's the problem?

You want brand with a decent reputation for quality - "a name you can trust", a "rider owned" company, or one that "gives back to bmx". Maybe all those things actually are worthy of consideration, but throwing in a couple of generic, straight from the source Taiwanese options might keep the rest of them honest. Personally I wouldn't go buying forks or frames from them, or more tech parts like a cassette, but a plain, black, unbranded 7075 sprocket or stump post I might consider.

In fact, someone should start up a company, call it Black Bikes and make one generic, black version of everything - one size fits all, any colour so long as it's black, no team, no videos, no stickers, no softgoods, no frills, 40% cheaper than everything else. Would that work? It kind of bucks the trend of a new colour every five minutes, a new web edit every five minutes and parts you change every five minutes, but surely there's got to be some people out there that are sick of the hype.

Anyway, these guys are far from the imaginary Black Bikes, they are Messiah Bike Co, but they are definitely straight out of Taiwan. Here's the description off their site of the rim tape they do:

"Candy Tape
Hey! It's funnnny. Normally, we could not find any special package for rim tape.
Therefore,we came out a idea that is candy.
We want to make it not only a rim tape.
It will be jucy and taste good also with fuuny.
So we designed 4 kinds of cover to choose"

That one got lost in translation. But the rest of their parts are simple, colourful, light and I'm guessing cheap. So there's no reason for people not to like them. They include a stem, a fork, a sprocket, bars, pivotal seat and post. And don't forget the rim tape.

No idea if or where you can get them, but they look like this:


The bitter battle of the Plegs continues to be waged on SPRFLS. People hate 'em, people love 'em. And George from G-Sport has defended them. He made a long and interesting comment that's worth reading and he also talks a bit about the curse of the colourway - saying that basically to make a dollar in bmx you've got to keep up with demand for endless colour variations.

I would have said that making parts that change colour in sunlight would be taking it too far, but...

The Rising of the Plegs

I made a disparaging post about Plegs not long ago. It wasn't the Plegs' fault - I was angry. Hold on a minute... it was the Plegs' fault - those things are just too damn soft. A peg that you have to rotate every other time you ride is too soft.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a G-Sport enthusiast. I own a Ratchet and it's a thing of beauty - solid, unbreakable, functional beauty. But can the same be said for Plegs? I'm still unconvinced.

BUT WAIT, just when you thought it was all over - Let the convincing begin:

I know it's old news. But a whole 2 days old and 74,000 tweets later, it's still worth a mention.

Not least because apparently this new incarnation uses a variation of the original plastic compound that according to GSport and Odyssey, and this guy Will (?), is a lot harder than the originals:
They’re really hard wearing. I genuinely think they’d last me about 2 years of continuous use on the front… I basically haven’t been rotating my front pleg much just to see how durable they really are. They have worn down loads (see picture) and still haven’t failed. My general riding involves a lot of tricks that are hard on the front peg and I’ve been going out of my way to give it extra abuse when the opportunity arises. I’m pretty sure had I worn down an old style pleg in this way, it would have cracked and failed by now, but that’s just from a subjective point of view I guess.

So there you go. Will likes 'em.

And you just know that as I type this there are at least 1000 kids who don't give a shit about how hard they, are or how long they last, sitting at their computers planning *crazy* translucent Pleg and Twisted PC Pedal combos - it's like bmx is 10 years behind the apple mac.

All that aside, the thing that really got me about riding with Plegs was the sound they make - or the lack of sound. Grinding in eerie silence is... eerie.

Eastern's cockroach tubing

Now this is tech.

This is like engineer pornography - a new type of tubing that'll be going on Eastern's 2010 aftermarket frames and a few of their completes. It's called, wait for it... XHeliX. I don't want to bring you down, but this amazing new word is pronounced, quite simply - Cross Helix.

I could just leave you with this quote I lifted from the comments on Eastern's post for the tubing: Phantom: "I don`t know much of this, but it seems so good", but I'll try and shed a little more light on it.

Of course, it's all about the weight. As you can see there are little ridges that run in opposing spirals down the inside of the tube. So the idea, i guess, is that you can have a thinner walled tube of an equal strength due to the reinforcement provided by ridges. The fact that they spiral along the length of the tube would also give a good torsional strength.

It'll be interesting to find out whether you can also get butted tubes of this design. That is: have a greater wall thickness at the end of the tubes where the welds are. Without butting you'd have less material at the weld point. But Eastern are going to put up some more info later in the week, so...

Just in case you didn't already feel like you're back at school, don't fall asleep yet. Cast your mind back to science class and take a look at the comparison below with the inside surface of an insect's exoskeleton. Pretty much the same principal. If it's good enough for cockroaches, it's good enough for me.

Positive - Negative

This blog had some hate poured over it the other day - in the comments on this page.

I've taken this criticism onboard and I am determined to make BMXtec a bettter blog.
The post I made that inspired this negativity, was in itself at least 50% negative. It seems this level of negativity may inspire negativity in others. From here on in I will be adopting a blog-wide content policy that enforces a minimum level of 75% positive content. Enjoy your day :)

Bye bye Bruce

Bruce Crisman, the fakie extrodinaire silver medal holder (Schwartz), is leaving Federal and making his way over to KHE. Not only to ride on their team, but to continue designing parts for them as well.

He's already put in work on two of their Freecoasters - the Reverse and the Astern - and now he's going to get himself a signature frame called the "Shola". Wonder if there'll be some whacky backwards specific geometry going on? You just never know with KHE, they defintely aren't shy when it comes to trying something new - bar/stem combo anyone?

The frame is named after Bruce's own brand - Shola, that has a new website up (with some nice vids too), but it's also set to release a few parts - Grips, Forks, Stem, Bars, and Seats apparently.

Then all the stuff above will be mixed together in various configurations to make up three KHE completes - Beginner, Intermediate and Pro.

Here you can reminisce and say goodbye to the old Federal Bruce God bless 'im:

Solidified Helium and Carbon Fibre

I'd bet that in the offices of KHE, somewhere in Germany, in a room of it's own there is a shrine. Purpose built from carbon fibre and solidified helium, adorned with flowers and levitating in a cloud of Bratwurst incense, it houses a set of German made digital scales accurate to 0.001 of a microgram.

KHE are totally and utterly obsessed by weight.

Anyway... I'm not going to throw too many stones (I too have been known to use the "sort by weight" feature on Dan's Comp), I'm just saying those guys really push the limit of light weight bmx parts. And they get a lot of shit for doing so. But when you think about it, someone has to push that limit - even go over that limit. How else do you find what that limit is?

So long as that limit is pushed and broken in the testing and prototyping of parts, no one has anything to complain about. And that what, according to KHE, this bike represents - "We wanted to see how far we could push the limits."

Mind you this bike is for sale. A bargain at just 1.995,- Euro (US$2,670 or A$3,580)
But before you part with your cash, I've got just a few words for you:

Flexie, Un-nerving,Fragile and Showpiece...

... After all, when KHE say "The result is almost too precious to be ridden" are they hinting that you might be better off having it on your wall rather than having it underneath you? At least the frame - the parts themselves would be worth a bomb.

Green, Blue, Gold.

DK have a slideshow of their "Summer 2009 Product Line" on the Transworld site.

I would embed the whole thing here but it's probably just as easy to create your own mental slideshow. Just conjure in your mind's eye their regular product line and think: "green, green, blue, blue, gold, gold, gold.

A few new colours maketh not a product line.

Although they did add this thing. I've seen valve cap spoke wrenches before and thought they were a good idea. For all I know they've been around forever, but I still think they're a good idea. Although a regular, average quality steel spoke wrench tends to round off on tight spokes, so an aluminium one... ?

Edit: Hey, see the question mark? That means I don't know.

For better or for worse

Proper's female front hub is officially out. That is, IMG distro got them today.
For better or for worst Proper has pretty much held the "light weight bmx hub crown" for the last few years, but the weight of these things - ridiculous.

184 grams apparently.

To put that in perspective, a Shimano 6500 Ultegra front road bike hub weighs in at an obese 198 grams. If you think about it a pair of lycra bike pants must weigh at least a couple of hundred grams less than a pair of jeans - you see where I'm going with this?

An Odyssey Rim Prototype, Mike Ardelean and Light Street

Mike Ardelean bike check on Odyssey:

Nice bike, nice photos, nice couch.

I don't usually give a lot of time to the full spec, but this got my attention:

"REAR RIM: Odyssey Quadrant prototype"

So that's a new rim from Odyssey on the way. You'd have to say they've already got a fair stable, especially if you include GSport in the mix, so why another? And why's it called Quadrant? Don't even bother squinting at the bike check you wont get nothin'.

I know they've got more than that but I'm going with the quadrant theme

You'd have to be betting on the "quadrant" being a lighter design - all their current rims are 17 oz's plus and they must be losing a bit of business while all the weight watchers are out there shopping up Primo Balances and Rhynolites (15.4 oz each) to save some grams.

Anyway, making a heavy rim in the dawning days of light street - you might as well give your money away.

Speaking of light street, Ardelean's wheels are built up with those butted Odyssey race spokes, and he's a street only. So for now, to stop the outrage and confusion - Mike Ardelean = Light Street.

Federal make good edits

I'd decided not to post videos, but this was just too good.

Anyway.. here's a good interview with Chris Harrison who's the product designer for Federal. Along with plenty of words he says some pretty interesting things about the heat treating of frames - or more specifically the half-heat-treating of frames.

Soft like butter

I had a GSport Pleg kicking around - brand new.
So I put it up on ebay.
Was I unlucky?
Or does every man and his dog know these pegs are softer than butter?

Selling Price: $0.01

This is getting Complexicated

Seat / post combos are the new low top tube.

These CAD drawings of the next version of Eclat's Complex seat/post combo have been floating around.

They're planning to add an internal aluminium sleeve to the post section of the molding.
For you technically ingtrigued people: it looks like they'll mold an extruded aluminium section with some ribbing on it into the PVC molding. To do this the extrusion is first placed in the injection tooling and the plastic gets squirted around it. So it's locked in there and, according to Eclat, you have a "one piece seat and post" - one piece with another piece molded into it.

I guess they were having the same problems as Fly were having with the plastic post getting crushed when the seat post clamp was tightened and they've come up with a similar solution.

In fact all these seat and post combos are starting to look pretty similar - mind you the Eclat one does have a 3 degree or so difference in angle when compared to the KHE Exhibit seat below. And it looks a little more like a mushroom...

Complications have arisen.

Simple is good. Simple things are good. Simplicity is great.
Think: simple life... simple man... simple pleasures. There's something going on there.

Complicated things sometimes have a charm of their own, but now I’m going to talk about simple things.

A bike with no brakes – looks simple, looks good.
But no stretch of the imagination or contorted explanation is going to convince me that a bike with no brakes functions better than one with brakes - even for street.

But that’s kind of my point. “Improving” things often makes them more complicated. And sometimes the result just isn’t worth it.

After all, a bike is a simple thing and a bmx is a particularly simple example of a bike. Improvements will nearly always be minor. Near optimal designs for all the basic bmx building blocks were reached years ago and I'm afraid from here on in it’s all marginal improvements, trends, corporate branding and shaving grams.

So why bother? Why not just make parts that don't try to be anything that they're not, that don't try to shout above the noise of the newest colourways and anodized parts and don't compromise their basic function by trying to make some questionable improvement.

I think I'd be right in saying that's what Simple Bike Co is about.

They've got a small product catalogue and the colour selection is limited - most of their stuff only comes only in black, grey or white - but there is an attention to detail that has a lot of their stuff looking like the stereotypical bmx part. I think that's a good thing.

But for a simple design to be a good design there's got to be attention to detail.
Take a look at this illustration below. Each circle is the top of the seat tube of each of the 3 Simple frames. They're all just a little different - I couldn't tell you why, but someone has obviously put thought in to it.

It's the same with the rest of the geometry of their 3 frames. Small differences throughout - it's not revolutionary, but it's more than a lot of other companies bother with.

And decals - these win my vote for best graphics in bmx. You can't beat black, white and grey. The end.

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