Cyclocross Season Wrap-up

The long cyclocross season here in North Carolina has finally drawn to a close, but not before the guys and gals on the Performance Bicycle team proceeded to have a blast racing, spectating, and otherwise torturing themselves on their Fuji and Focus cyclocross steeds.

Cross racing is a short, intense, and usually painful experience, but you find yourself wanting to do it all over again the next day!  Plus it helps to have a big and varied team like ours, so that there were always teammates there to cheer/heckle you when it was time to push yourself to the limit.

The races even managed to be fun when you found yourself hopelessly tangled in the course tape, hoping that your friends weren’t there to see it (but this always happened right in front of the biggest crowds).

And if you found yourself in the back of the pack, we could count on our teammates to keep things interesting–sometimes with a round of “human barrier” jumping (don’t try this at home)!

Of course it’s nice to win too, and we had our fair share of podiums and even an overall series win to our teams credit this season, not that we’re bragging.

But now that our season is done, it’s time to sit back and watch the real pros duke it out for the coveted World Championship titles.  This year the Worlds are being held in Sankt Wendel, Germany, with the elite men’s and women’s races scheduled for Sunday afternoon (German time), but there will be a whole weekend of racing when you factor in the Under-23 and Junior titles up for grabs.

In the men’s elite race the favorites have to the Belgians Sven Nys and Niels Albert or defending champ Zdenek Stybar, but don’t count out the American team of veterans Jonathan Page, Tim Johnson, Jeremy Powers and young gun Jamey Driscoll.  The women’s elite race has a bevy of contenders as well, including defending champion Marianne Vos and four-time champion Hanka Kupfernagel, but American hopes rest squarely with Katie Compton, who has already won five World Cup races and her seventh straight US national title this year!

Needless to say, we’ll be watching somehow or some way this weekend.  How about you?

Spin Doctor Tech Tip – 10 Speed MTB Drivetrain Compatibility

Spin DoctorIS TEN TOO MANY?

The 2 snarling dogs of mountain bike components (SRAM and Shimano) have decided that 9 are just not enough. Yep, they are telling us that our mountain bikes need 10 gears in the back.

The first whisperings came in 2008 when bike mags and blogs hinted at the change. Late in 2009 SRAM trotted out its high-zoot XX 2×10 drivetrain. Then in 2010 SRAM expanded their 2 x10 offerings to include their X0, X9 and X7 groups.

Then the cold war turned hot! Could or would Shimano stand pat? No way, and in 2010 out comes Shimano’s 10-speed Dyna-Sys drivetrain in their top shelf XTR and XT cross country groups and in their SLX all-mountain group.

According to the early reviews these groups work great but what about compatibility? We’ll try to answer those questions but first let us introduce the new…

SRAM 2×10. The 2×10 is so-called because it pairs a double chainring crankset with a 10 speed cassette. The surprising thing about SRAM’s 2×10 drivetrains is that they have pretty much the same range of easy and hard gears as traditional 3×9 systems.

How is that possible?  First, the 10-speed cassette has an extra cog and a wider range (11-36 vs. 11-34 for the old 9-speed). And second, the double cranks have a wide jump between small and large rings.  The double is available in either a higher 28-42 or a bit lower 26-39 tooth combinations.  Traditional triples are 22-32-44.

SRAM XX 10-speed Cassette - Item #50-7639

Here’s SRAM’s take: “2X10 gives you the same amount of useable gears of a 3X9 system but with lighter weight, faster front shifting and less complexity.”  According to SRAM the 2X10 would not be possible without their new X Glide chainrings (which use a unique 4-bolt 120/80mm bolt circle diameter). These specially mated rings are sized so every tooth on the small ring lines up perfectly with a tooth on the big ring. Plus the teeth are shaped to facilitate each shift, either up or down.

SRAM XX 39/26 BB30 Crankset - Item #50-7620

The good news is that 2×10 is lighter, simpler and its shifting is synapse-quick, but there are compatibility issues. SRAM’s 10-speed drivetrain components are all cross-compatible, with a few exceptions:

1. The 2×10 drivetrains require a double left hand shifter, double crank with the X-Glide rings, 10-speed chain and double front derailleur.

SRAM XX Low Clamp Top Pull Front Derailleur - Item #50-7635 (next to old X9 triple front derailleur)

2. Their 3×10 drivetrains require a triple left hand shifter, 10-speed triple crank, 10-speed chain and triple front derailleur.

3. In a switch, SRAM’s 10-speed mountain bike derailleurs (XX, X0, X9 & X7) are now compatible with their 10-speed road shifters (Red, Force, Rival & Apex). So you can use Rival shifters with a XX rear derailleur and wide range X7 10-speed cassette for mountain centuries.

SRAM XX Rear Derailleur - Item #50-7616

4. And the bummer, their 10-speed MTB derailleurs are not compatible with their 9-speed MTB drivetrains!

SHIMANO Dyna-Sys. Shimano revamped all the key parts of their 10-speed Dyna-Sys drivetrain. They have created cassettes, front and rear derailleurs, shifters, chains and cranks that are unique and essential to the operation of the system.

The rear derailleur got a more direct cable routing (like SRAM), their shifter actuation ratio got tighter (like SRAM), their cranks got redesigned chainrings (like SRAM), their cassette got a wider range (11-36 like SRAM) and their D-S cranks are available in both 2X10 (D-S XTR only) and 3X10 (like SRAM). They also redesigned their Dyna-Sys specific asymmetrical chain (not like SRAM). The D-S chain got 4 distinctly different outer plates to speed shifting. Their triple cranks got tighter ratios (24-32-42 vs. 22-32-44) and their brand new D-S XTR double is available in multiple combinations (28-40 & 26-38 are options, with 4-bolt 88mm BCD) with ranges like SRAM.

As far as compatibility, Shimano’s Dyna-Sys products are only compatible with components in the Dyna-Sys lineup, from XTR to SLX. They are not compatible with any other parts, such as using a Dyna-Sys derailleur with 9-speed shifters.  The only part that has not changed is the front/left shifter.  It has remained the same and does not include a Dyna-Sys logo.

1. The Shimano Dyna-Sys XTR 2×10 drivetrain requires a Shimano D-S XTR left hand shifter (that is convertible for double or triple), Dyna-Sys XTR double front derailleur, D-S 10-speed chain and Shimano XTR double crank.

2. Their 3×10 drivetrains require a triple left hand shifter, 10-speed D-S triple crank, 10-speed D-S chain and Shimano D-S triple front derailleur.

3. In a switch, Shimano’s D-S 10 speed rear derailleurs (XTR, XT and SLX) are NOT compatible with Shimano road shifters nor with other non-D-S MTB shifters.

We hope that this clears up some of the questions you’ve got about these new 10-speed mountain bike components, but if you need more help be sure to give Spin Doctor Product Services a call; they’ll be happy to help!

You can find all of our 10-speed mountain bike components in one handy group here.

2011 stores

Even though the first month of the new year is somehow already drawing to a close, we thought that we’d mention one more thing that we’re looking forward to in 2011.  So far we’ve talked about our new 2011 bikes, a new season of pro racing, and just getting out to ride with our friends, but another big thing for 2011 is definitely our new stores opening soon!

We’re going to continue to grow and reach cyclists around the country with our new, cutting-edge store design, as well as with our legendary service, values and selection. We’ll update you about store opening and grand opening dates and information as soon as we finalize the details, but for now we can say that we’ll soon have new stores in the following locations this spring:

We’re excited about the opportunities to meet new cyclists and service the needs of new cycling communities, and to reach out to current friends with a more convenient location.  We look forward to sharing our passion for cycling in our new stores, while always providing our high level of customer service with our fantastic values and selection, our low price promise, and our 100% satisfaction guarantee.

If you are interested in joining our team, we are also accepting applications from friendly and knowledgeable people to work in our new stores! We’re always looking for cycling-knowledgeable associates to sell the joy of cycling and provide our customers with an exceptional experience.  Check out the Job Opportunities page on our site, or just follow the directions on the new stores opening soon pages.

Check back in the coming weeks for more updates and details about the new stores listed above and to see what additional new stores we’ve got planned for the rest of 2011!

Holiday Food Drive Wrap-Up

As you may recall from right before the busy holiday season, all 94 Performance stores served as receiving centers for food donations for an array of local food banks.  Our stores accepted a variety of non-perishable food items, including any kind of canned food or pasta, and dry foods such as cereal and rice that were sealed and packaged.

This was our second consecutive year with a holiday food drive, and our goal was the same–to collect as much food as we possibly could.  These donations of non-perishable food items really make a difference for those in need, especially during this time of year, and by partnering with local food banks these food donations go directly back to the communities that we are a part of.

Last year, with the help of everyone who donated, we collected nearly three tons of food.  But this year we really stepped up our efforts and are proud to announce that we collected a total of 16,890 lbs of food! That’s nearly 8 1/2 tons of food, all from fellow cyclists like you!

So we say thank you to everyone who was able to bring in a non-perishable food donation to one of our stores.  Your generosity will really make a difference in your community.

2011 Bikes

Since we’re talking about what we’re looking forward to in 2011, what list would be complete without a little talk about new bike gear!  Here at Peformance Bicycle we are always working hard to give you the best possible value and performance from our exclusive brands, like our fantastic USB-rechargable Spark lights or our award-winning Performance Elite bib shorts.   For 2011, we’re really proud to bring you a brand new lineup of exclusive bike brands.  we’ve got new bikes coming soon that will meet any riders’ needs–from the hardcore mountain bike racer to the urban commuter, from the first-time rider to the elite racer, .  We’re just going to give you a sneak peek of the new lineup right now, but don’t worry, we’ll have more in-depth specs and videos in the next few weeks.

The biggest update to our exclusive bikes is with our Access brand of mountain bikes.  As you can see below (from photos we shot during our employee-exclusive bike preview), we’ve really expanded our Access lineup.

Front and center in the new lineup are the race-ready Access Stealth carbon 29er hardtail mountain bikes.  Yes, we said carbon 29er.  We’ve been testing and refining this new bike for some time now, and we can’t wait to show off its performance (and hot graphics).

But we haven’t neglected our aluminum-framed 29er options, as you can see with the Access Prowler series, with solid component specs and sharp-looking color schemes.

Also new is the Access Raptor series of 26″-wheeled hardtails, available, like all of our bikes, with a range of components to meet everyone’s needs and budget.

Of course we didn’t forget to upgrade our road bike lineup either, with new graphics and components throughout our Scattante brand bikes.

And our popular Scattante Americano single-speed lineup is back with more component style:

And cool custom graphic details:

Plus we don’t want you to miss our updated Transit line of commuter bikes, with their practical specs and understated style.

So, like we said earlier, we’re really looking forward to 2011!  We’ve worked hard to bring you exclusive bike brands that have something for everyone and every need, and we can’t wait to show them off!

2011 Racing

So what else are we looking forward to in 2011?  Well, how about another season of bike races.  We love to ride and race, but we also love watching other riders give it their all in 2-wheeled combat.  It could be the local Cat 4 cyclocross race (where you never know what will happen) or a hotly contested elite criterium… we’re just cycling fans through and through!  There’s something about the noise of a passing peleton: the whoosh of spinning spokes, the whirring chains, the snap of a gear change before the final sprint, and the kaleidoscopic array of jerseys and bikes.

But we’ve got to admit, our favorite cycling spectating is watching the sport at its highest professional level.  You’d be amazed at how popular the break room in our office becomes at the end of a Grand Tour stage!  Yes, we know that our sport has been known for its fair share of disappointing doping scandals, but the cheats are getting caught and we still love to watch some of the world’s greatest athletes racing in amazing scenery that can’t be topped by any sport!  Plus it also gives us an excuse to check out their drool-worthy gear.

Pro cycling has a little something for everyone: the solo breakaway, the mad dash of the bunch sprint, the mano-a-mano mountain-climbing duels, the pure efficiency of the time trial, and the epic scope and controlled chaos of the Grand Tour.  Just the sheer logistical madness of contesting an equipment-heavy professional sport across hundreds of kilometers of roads is impressive in its own right.

Of course if you want to get the full experience of a major race (including the pre-race caravan, the crowds, the team cars, and the TV helicopters), you really need to see one in person.  And if you can only see one race in person this year, we can personally recommend going to see the Tour de France.  Where else can you get so close to pro athletes without paying any admission fee, plus the very next day you can grab your bike and try out the same roads for yourself, to see how superhuman their exploits really were!

So we’re ready for a new year of pro bike racing (the Tour Down Under starts only a few days from now)!  Bring on the Classics of Paris Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege; the Grand Tours of the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France… we’ll be watching all the way to the Giro di Lombardia late in the fall (and there’s always cyclocross in the winter).  We’ll even get a few major international races here in the US this year with the  Tour of California and the new Quiznos Pro Challenge.

Forget what happened in pro racing last year?  Check out this really thorough year in review video (just be prepared for some dramatic musical selections):

And if you ever want to know when any race (at just about every level of the sport) is scheduled to take place, then you definitely need to bookmark the VeloNews race calendar.

Looking forward to 2011

So it’s happened once again… a new year is here and, frankly, we’re excited about 2011!  A new year brings with it new opportunities, the chance for new challenges and adventures, and more time to ride!  We thought we’d take the next few days to share just a few of the things we’re looking forward to in the next 12 months.

First and foremost, we’re looking forward to riding and racing with our friends.  It sounds so simple, but the best things often do.

If you’re lucky like us here at the office, you may be able to get out for a ride at lunch, or after work, with friends and coworkers, for that quick spin where everybody is “taking it easy” even though it invariably turns into a sprint-laden throwdown, just for the fun of it.

Or you could toe the line at a local race with your teammates, to test your mettle when the guns goes off.

Maybe you’ll convince a buddy that this is the year to try an epic off-road adventure, if only to prove to yourself that you can finish!

Or it could be that this year you’ll finally get your coworkers to give up their cars and try out the simple pleasure of riding their bike to work, if only for a few days.

Whatever you’ve got planned for the coming year, make sure it includes more time to hit the roads (or the trails) with your riding buddies.  Whether that means just a ride around the block with your family, a chill ride on the local trails with your crew, or an intense training ride with your teammates, it’s time you won’t regret.  We’re definitely looking forward to more time on the bike with our friends!

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