I arrived early for the 2017 Sea Otter Classic with vendors still setting up at Laguna Seca Raceway. I’m getting the lay of the land in the morning chill when I see a grandfatherly gentleman by himself unloading boxes and adjusting bikes at the Breezer Bikes tent and, whoa! It’s the legendary Joe Breeze himself!
When Kickstarter became popular shortly after its 2009 launch, I and many of you were amazed and thrilled with the awesomely creative crowd-funded bicycle projects available. Before long, however, we began to see funded projects that failed to deliver, and I cringe at some projects from folks with little to no obvious background in bicycles who sell product with possible safety issues.
These days, I try to limit Kickstarter product mentions for ideas that are truly innovative, or that come from people with a proven background in product design and delivery and provide value for the cyclist. The perfect suspension saddle, airless tires, Bluetooth handlebars, and supposedly theft-proof locks are a dime a dozen, as are people crowdsource funding for a container of cheap singlespeeds and space at the Port of Los Angeles to assemble and ship these discount bikes, assuming they haven’t been seized by U.S. Customs for failing CPSC safety requirements.
Hence, I’m happy to mention Mission Bicycle Company’s current Kickstarter for the Lyra, a basic bicycle with built-in lights with one-touch on-off, and a real GPS tracking unit.
Taishan Sports manufactures bikes for several second tier bike brands, and they designed and manufactured carbon-fiber bicycles under the Pardus brand for the 2016 Chinese Olympic team. They’re now launching a new, direct-to-consumer brand — MVMT (pronounced “movement”) — for the North American market, launching models for road and mountain enthusiasts on April 15, 2017.
I’m a road guy, so I tried the MVMT Carnelian road bike.
The bike is a very competently designed road bike with mechanical disc on 700c thru axle wheels. The full Shimano 105 group provides dependably smooth shifting and braking. MVMT brand carbon drop bar, stem and post, with MVMT alloy rims complete the bike. The bike will be available in three colors: white (shown), matte black, and turquoise blue.
I tested the Carnelian during the worst of the storms we experienced in the Santa Cruz Mountains earlier this year, taking it out on the few non-rainy days. This is not an adventure or cobble bike, but I rode over shattered roads and confidently weaved around fallen redwood trees. The disc brakes may have saved my life during a fast descent in the mountains: a tree fell in front of me, taking down a power pole. I came to a complete and controlled stop with live power lines bouncing literally inches from my front wheel.
Two days of nice weather in late February was the perfect opportunity for a longer ride, and the Carnelian shines in the rolling hills of California Highway 1 along the Pacific Coast.
The beefy bottom bracket enables snappy acceleration and pedaling efficiency. I’m not savvy enough to know precisely how a bicycle’s geometry affects parameters like comfort vs efficiency and performance, but this bike earned me four new Personal Records (per Strava) on the Swanton Loop in Santa Cruz County, and I didn’t even feel like I was trying that hard on this early season metric century. MVMT has a heritage in time trial bikes, and the Carnelian wasn’t designed to be an endurance or sportive bike, but it’s almost as comfortable to ride as my trusty old Specialized Roubaix but with enough liveliness to brighten the ride.
Why a nicer bike?
Which brings me to the title of this post: Faster and further. People frequently ask, “Why don’t cyclists who ride for fitness ride heavy bikes? Won’t heavy bikes help them achieve fitness faster / more quickly / with less effort?”
There are numerous reasons people might buy lightweight road bikes, but for me the short answer is: long distance rides are more enjoyable and less painful on quality, well designed bikes.
I rode 40 miles last Friday, and 32 miles on Saturday. I intended to complete a metric century on both days, but had to abandon at distances that normally are moderate for me. The reason: I rode a heavy, 28 pound $300 clunker made with high tensile (aka “gas pipe”) tubing and bottom-of-the-barrel components, mostly to prove a point. That cheap bike is fine for short-distance city riding, but for these longer distances it left my wrists numb and my shoulders, neck and back sore. I think the heavy, straight-gauge tubing probably transmitted a big percentage of road shock directly to my spine and arms via both the seatpost and through the forks.
The Carnelian, by contrast, has stiffness where it counts in spades, but my middle-aged joints really appreciated the superior design and material that gave me a good feel for the road without knocking me senseless. MVMT’s American marketing manager in San Mateo described Taishan’s proprietary carbon layering process techniques that frankly went over my head, but it all means a bike I can ride fast for hours on end.
The Carnelian will retail for $1680 and will be available for online purchase at MVMT Bikes on April 15, 2017. Unlike other 105-equipped road bikes approaching this price range, the Carnelian is full 105, instead of “105 light” with a mix of downgraded and Brand X components to reduce cost. MVMT bikes come with a five year frame warranty, and two year warranty on MVMB components. There will be a crash replacement program allowing riders to exchange their damaged frame only for a price that amounts to about 30% off retail.
You can demo this and MVMT’s Corundum mountain bike (Carbon 29er w/ carbon bars and post, SRAM NX 1×11 drivetrain, Rockshox Recon fork, hydraulic disc brakes) at the Sea Otter Classic coming up April 20 – 23, 2017 in Monterey, California.
Many bikey opportunities are coming up for you over the next couple of months in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.
Our recent drought-busting rains in the San Francisco Bay Area gave me enough good data to enable two additional trail segments on the Santa Clara County trail flooding information page.
I added Penitencia Creek under I-680 in the city of San Jose, and Stevens Creek Trail in Mountain View underneath Highway 101. I also tweaked the predictive flooding algorithm for Los Gatos Creek Trail.
Thank you to Joey Rozier, who gave me information on Stevens Creek flooding and even posted video of a suggested detour. Stevens Creek doesn’t flood often, but when it does the detour can be substantial, so I hope knowing flood status ahead of time helps with planning.
Thank you also to my colleague Matt Murphy, who gave me flood information for Penitencia Creek.