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Updated: 16 weeks 2 days ago

Sony Launches a6300 with G Master Lenses

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 07:16

Sony just took their best-selling mirrorless, the a6000 to the next level, created a new lens type for it and the A7 series, and the media is like, “Yes!”

The lens story from the launch is good for current sensors and those to come because the lens resolves to the power of sensor. Until now, most lenses are from the film era, so you got a higher resolution but no more detail. Using advanced glass molding techniques, the G Master lenses, are designed for the resolution of high megapixel sensors, like the ones in the Alpha Series camera; including the new e6300. In our first sample images, we saw remarkable detail, and luxurious bokeh. Like….

The camera merges high-end video with stills and breaks the the notion that sensitivity and image quality are mutually exclusive. The a6300 has the world’s fastest autofocus with a long bullet list of groundbreaking features like a 6k signal to a 4K file in super 35mm format. Wut? Yes, almost unreal.

Watch for analyses on Digital Photo Pro, sample photos taken with the lenses and an a6300 review when they ship on Sony Mirrorless Pro. Wrapping up our live event coverage and stepping out of the studio back onto the mean streets of New York, spotted this reminder of how to lock a bike in NYC. Before that, en route to the event, Luciad Lite.

The event was fun, with spirits high, and the mood loose. As the media warmly accepted the new product, Sony staffers got in on the action in the studio scenes too.

In this photo Mike Fasulo, President and COO, Sony Electronics Inc. dramatically reenacts the bear-mauling scene from Revenant.

Sony cameras fit my ongoing quest to travel lighter and shoot smarter. With new lenses and camera, the photos taken on the road while riding are gonna get even better.

Face the BB Instead of the BS

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 06:40

Bill Davidson was noncommittal when I asked if I could next time “face the BB?” Probably need to watch a few YouTube videos first and practice on demo frames, but yeah I really want to do it. Watch this video for the why…

Right? I’m joking of course. The masters at DKCB have a lifetime of experience and were humoring me as I escaped the BS of the sport to hang out with people that make bikes and love what they’re doing. It’s good to step out of the media bubble and also get out for a ride.

A bottom bracket is faced to accept the bearings of a crank and this jig was made by Bill for the job. Just a few minutes from Hugga HQ in Fremont. You should visit too. I can’t promise they’ll let you in the shop, but you can watch from the showroom floor.

Motor Doping on PRI

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 21:16

An emotional Van den Driessche Responds to cases or mechanical fraud on Sporza

BBC’s The World on PRI interviews Bike Hugger about mechanical doping, tonight on an NPR station in your listening area. Also see my Motor Omertà story from yesterday, and these news updates

As I said on Twitter this weekend too

Wasn’t My Bike I Was Racing should rank right up there with Unborn Twin AND Jack Daniels as worst doping excuses ever.


Just after posting this article, PRI’s The World story dropped on their site with quotes from David Schloss

“I’m not surprised someone put a motor in a bicycle,” says David Schloss, an editor at Bikehugger. “But I’m pretty saddened. I think that any doping really defeats the point of the competition. This just takes it to a whole new level.”

“My suspicions were tweaked the first moment when spectators and magazines and the TV shows all said that it wasn’t possible at all,” he says. “Because they all said the same thing about every type of biological doping.”

Motor Omerta: Motor Doping at CX Worlds

Sat, 01/30/2016 - 11:59

An eAssit motor from Vivax

Got back from a ride this morning, to news of motor doping at CX Worlds. Femke van den Driessche was participating in the U23 Women’s Championship, and a favorite to win, but was forced to abandon with one lap left to go. Her bike was inspected by mechanics post-race, when the motor was found. The UCI’s sporting director told Sport Wereld

“The UCI has defined technological fraud and we can confirm that this is the bike of Femke van den Driessche,” said Smets.

When we first learned about motor doping (motors embedded in bikes) the collective response from the racers, marketers, and managers strongly indicated to me that it was true. See, they protested way too much, just like the Doping Omertà before this. Now it’s a Motor Omertà.

Because the racers have no union to protect themselves (like other Pro sports) and shut news like this down, it’s even worse for the fans, and the biggest thing the sport has to reckon with is the total loss of trust.

I was not surprised in the least with this discovery, and to anyone that denied motors in bikes existed, you shouldn’t have been either. The motor was confirmed by the UCI AND considering they use fiber optic video to examine bikes, I don’t doubt the probable cause. The UCI has been getting ready for this for two years. They even developed prototype illegal bikes to prove the concept. At Koppenberg cross, Femke was 5% faster than all the other women, that may have been on the factors that got the UCI’s attention.

This is a developing story and we’ll follow up as we learn more. Like everyone else, I’m fascinated to see what the UCI caught. Was it a DIY or from a manufacture? For an example of how concealed motors work in bikes, see the Vivax eAssist product page.

Issue 32 Off Season

Sat, 01/30/2016 - 02:17

Eric Wohlberg in his classic Buick Lesabre after a training ride with Rally Cycling. He told us how he’s restoring the wagon while we listened to his brother’s band, the Blazing Elwoods. The free cover story for Issue 32, dropping today, has more photos from the Rally team camp and articles about the off season. That’s when us amateurs ride less, if at all. We plan, we analyze—position, fitness, goals. It’s the time to put the ego in check, and plot for successes to come.

After hanging around the skinniest racers in America for the week, one of my off-season goals is to keep the weight off, and somehow spend more time riding with Eric. He seemed to just get started with all the things he could share; including music and good rides, like the ones seen in this edit.

His road season was just getting started and mine still being determined.

Subscription revenues directly support the writing, editing, and production of Bike Hugger Magazine. It’s ad free and published monthly on iTunes and the Web for $1.99 per month or $3.99 an issue.

Rally Cycling Team in SoCal

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 07:11

At the Rally Cycling team camp, everything is moving….. On assignment for Digital Photo Pro with Rally in SoCal, shot with the Sony A7S II and Rokinon lens (35MM, T1.5) and made this short edit from the b-roll.

Rolling into Malibu

I’ll have much more to share in the next issue of our magazine, dropping this week, including stills, and a with a nod to the working-class, blue-collar bikes Rally is racing.

Diamondback Podium E’tape

Hoogerheide Highlights

Wed, 01/27/2016 - 15:56

Highlights from Hoogerheide and a taste of what’s to come this weekend at CX Worlds.

In SoCal with Rally Cycling

Tue, 01/26/2016 - 09:58

On location in Malibu with Rally Cycling, and here taking photos of Highway 23. I’ll share more about this shoot in the next issue of our magazine.

Rally team car

Another Pro Quality Compact Camera: Fuji X-Pro2 Launched

Sun, 01/24/2016 - 03:08

A photo posted by Zack Arias (@zarias) on Jan 15, 2016 at 7:45am PST

This week at a launch event in Japan, Fuji celebrated the X-Series’ 5th anniversary and also announced their new X-Pro2 mirrorless camera. Followers of Zack Arias (including me) watched the event on Instagram and he shared his photo taken with the new camera. His comments (and excitement) from Instagram

I’ve been testing the new #fuji #xpro2 for a little over a month now. It’s a beautiful camera. The new sensor is phenomenal. 24.3 MP. Dual SD slots. New processor. Weather resistance. Wifi. New hybrid viewfinder. Built in diopter. New film simulation modes. 250th sync speed. Kick ass shutter / ISO combo dial. ISO usable to 128,000. Manual & electronic shutter. Fast. Sleek. Gorgeous. It’s finally here!!!!

I was first introduced to mirrorless by David Schloss a few media cycles ago, when he proudly shot with a X100 and praised its retro-rangefinder design. That camera offered superior image quality in a compact design, much as the Sonys do now. It was the first camera to really recognize that there was an advantage to exploring a professional-quality non-SLR solution.

His field test for Image Resource addresses the pros and cons; including limitations (since addressed) three years later by the new X-Pros. The most significant improvement is the X-Trans CMOS III sensor with 24-megapixels that puts Fuji on a similar footing with the Nikon, Canon and Sony. As I shared last month, it’s all about the sensor….and when paired with a high-quality Fujinon lens, expect beautiful photos from this camera, like Zack posted.

Fuji’s approach to reduce moiré and false colors is interesting with a random color filter. Despite mixed results with their hybrid viewfinder – optical and electronic – Fuji continues to improve it sticking with their tech, instead of switching to an OLED like Sony. Sony’s half-inch XGA OLED viewfinder on the Alpha series cameras gave us no pause, as the resolution is just as good as an optical one. Where Fuji has stepped up the mirrorless game is with robust weather resistance

Four pieces of magnesium alloy and is sealed in a total of 61 points on each section, making it dust-proof, splash-proof and capable of operating in temperatures as low as -10°C.

I haven’t worried about my Sonys too much, but also would NOT stand outside in the rain with them. The X-Pro 2 might not handle a rainy Seattle winter, but it stands up to the elements better than any of the current Sony cameras. We’ll have a demo camera in soon.

Fuji also increased focus points from 49 to 77 and expect the X-Pro2 to be welcomed by Fuji fans, as well as us.  In the mirrorless market, the more competition, the better. In support of the launch, Fuji also launched several mini sites, including one featuring a mountain bike to demonstrate their new focusing system.

The X-Pro2 body goes on sale for $1,699.95 next month at $400 more than the X-T1 from 2 years ago. It’s a premium pro compact camera targeting professional shooters, like the market Sony defined and we write about on Sony Mirrorless Pro. Worth noting, how Fuji is emphasizing rugged toughness, with outside imagery and this battered-hero image. Also, when I was at the D5 launch, the media I spoke with all wondered where Nikon’s mirrorless tech was – it wasn’t, but here’s Fuji matching and arguably exceeding Alpha series cameras with sought-after features like ruggedness.

Fuji is targeting pros with their new camera.

As long-time Bike Hugger followers know, we’re super into mirrorless because of their compact size, professional quality images, and lightweight – I’ve been shooting with Sony Alpha series cameras since they came out. FujiFilm has stepped the mirrorless game up and we’ll have our demo in soon with posts and images to follow.

Interested in Sony or Fujifilm cameras? Follow our sister sites for more mirrorless cameras content:

Northwave Winter Boots in the Rain

Sat, 01/23/2016 - 06:59

These winter boots from Northwave are so stylish, I wanna wear them out, around town, on a date. It seems Northwave read or heard about my bootie-boots solution for riding in the rain, and considering the El Niño conditions here in Seattle, sent the Extreme Winter GTX. The main feature of the Winter GTX is

All the benefits of a shoecover, none of the weakness of a shoecover.

No shoe cover required? Hmmm

Sounds good and the weather is cooperating with the proper test conditions. I’ll write more about the Northwaves and the Gore One in the next issue of our magazine. 32 drops next week.

Consider it an anti El Niño device from @GORETEXna, perfectly timed and made for changing weather conditions. № 408.

— byron@bikehugger (@bikehugger) January 18, 2016

Also see Mark V’s review of their Arctic boot with the

Well, if not glorious, then at least comfortable. Northwave has long offered competent winter cycling shoes, perhaps because the Italian company also has a successful line of snowboard products including boots. Of course, in the cycling world Northwave first made its reputation with completely over-the-top print ads featuring the stars of professional cycling in outlandish vignettes, like Mario Cipollini dressed as a musketeer and holding a naked blonde. Though I have known all that for years, I have never before owned Northwave shoes until now.

Bikepacking Peru

Fri, 01/22/2016 - 08:45

Huayhuash from Joey Schusler on Vimeo.

Spotted on Vimeo, a beautiful bikepacking trip in Peru.

This was all a spur of the moment idea; part of the vicious cycle of making every adventure more thrilling than the last. January was the off-season, or rainy season, for the Andes so the wilderness would be completely desolate. The three friends hoped to be the second group to complete this trek on bikes. However, they underestimated the relentless weather they would encounter as they traveled for a week above treeline.

Photo Joey Schusler via PP

Spur of the moment ride in Peru? Sounds good and read the rest of the ride report on Passion Passport.

Tyler Farrar at the Tour Down Under

Thu, 01/21/2016 - 13:02

Farrar finishes Stage 3 on a fan’s bike after he crashed near Cudlee Creek. Photo: Anne Fedorowytsch.

The news from the TDU today is that a fan gave Tyler Farrar his bike and shoes after a crash. Tyler went on to finish with no penalty – there’s a rule against taking a nonteam bike, but hey, it’s the TDU? Who’s paying that much attention. According to the Adelaide Advertiser, Anthony Tooman, gave Tyler his shoes because of the mismatch between Shimano and Speedplay.

“We could see him (Farrar) on the side of the road and asked ‘do you need a wheel?’ and he said ‘na, a wheel is not going to cut it’,” Tooman last night told The Advertiser.

“Then it went to ‘well, what pedals are you running?’

There isn’t video of the bike and shoe swap, but see the reporting of the crash here with an unlucky racer upside down on the side of the road.

I haven’t seen Tyler since we raced cross together, but he grew up in Washington state and I watched he come up through the ranks. During that race he said, “On your left Bro” and, “F this is hard.”

Great to see Tyler back in the news, now let’s hope for something better than a crash…..

A spectator gave Tyler Farrar his bike to ride to the finish after Farrar crashed. He was more than grateful. #TDU

— CyclingTips (@cyclingtips) January 21, 2016

CX Nats Edit

Wed, 01/20/2016 - 08:54

U.S. Cyclocross Nationals 2016 Highlights from In The Crosshairs on Vimeo.

Quite possibly the best CX course ever, in the States at least…and nice drone work.

Dropouts, Good Aesthetics, and Bad Design

Sun, 01/17/2016 - 12:31

The old saying “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” has an analog in bike frames, and on metal bikes often times it is the area around the right rear dropout. Millions of bikes don’t fail at the dropout, but I’m never surprised when I see one break. Fatigue failures basically require two things to occur: a cyclical load on the structure and a focal point where the stress can overwhelm the strength of the material. A bicycle frame is a deceptively complex problem to analyze stresses, with a huge number of variables that are difficult to quantify. I suspect that the vast majority of dropouts in the history of bicycle design were designed with aesthetics and intuition in mind rather than detailed stress analysis. Accumulated experiences would be incorporated into new designs. By now, you’d think that the dropout would be perfected, but manufacturing methods, frame styles, and drivetrain components have continued to evolve. Setting aside the carbon fibre frame construction and the rapid onset of thru-axles, dropouts on metal bikes still fail too.

This first photo shows a fixed-gear/single speed bike with a fractured dropout. It is a steel bike from a somewhat niche yet inexpensive brand, a brand that has the wherewithal to have its own dropouts made rather than buy generic frame fittings. The brand’s marketing taps into the everyman appeal of traditional steel framesets, which is made accessible through the economy of Taiwanese manufacturing. The dropout design incorporates a practical integral axle tensioner bolt and stylized cutout windows beside the chain stay and seat stay attachments that harken to the delicate embellishments the framebuilders of yore added to forged or stamped fittings with much hand-filing labour. But these windows are not added by hand, nor is the dropout is likely stamped or forged. Most likely is investment cast, since modern manufacturing methods allow near-net shape items to be quickly developed and economically produced. However, cast steel parts frequently have less strength than forgings. In all likelihood, the strength of the material was just not sufficient with the windows removing so much metal in the area. Interestingly, the left dropout partially fractured in the exact same place. Basing statements on anecdotal evidence can be shady business, but I did see two more bikes with broken dropouts like this not long after. And current production of this model eschews the window cutouts adjacent to the chainstay, suggesting that the manufacturer felt compelled to change the design.

The picture below shows a dropout that cracked right beside the chain stay. The dropout design seems rather conservative, but this particular failure was actually one of six to eight that I personally saw. Most likely these dropout failures occurred because either the metal used in the dropout had some sort of metallurgical defect affecting the strength and/or microstructure, or the area was brazed too long or too hot such that the dropout material weakened or became embrittled. I’m inclined to suspect the material issue rather than a manufacturing error, since the factory has a very long history of making traditional lugged steel bicycles sold under their name and as well as other brands.

The next two photographs show a titanium frame from a well-known manufacturer. This particular bike is a discontinued flagship model that showcased all their weight-saving techniques. But at a certain point weight-saving becomes a tricky game. First costs go up as you use more expensive materials and methods, and then you’ll have to knowingly sacrifice strength and/or durability to remove material mass. That’s probably what happened here. The seat stays on this frame are crazy light; I’ve seen bubble tea straws that were stouter. Also, the seat stay seems to be swaged down to a point rather than using a bullet. You pretty much can’t do that unless the titanium tubing has been annealed to lower yield strength to avoid cracking during the shaping process. And since resistance to fatigue is proportional to material strength and with the tube walls being so whisper thin, this is probably a case of too weak or too little material.

In this particular case, a person brought the bike to show a local titanium framebuilder to see if it could be repaired, but there was no way to economically repair. I don’t remember why the person couldn’t address the problem to the original manufacturer, whether it was because it was out of warrantee or if he wasn’t the original owner, but he was understandably disappointed. One often hears that “titanium lasts forever” but the truth is more complicated than that. Good design and manufacturing are more important than material alone.

This last photo depicts a titanium dropout from a recently defunct framebuilder. With nowhere to address a warrantee claim, three different owners brought bikes in with the same problem within three months to see if DKCBikes could execute a solution, so I am confident that this has been an issue elsewhere for the bikes using this dropout. I am not sure if the shape of the dropout is the issue or the material. Though I kinda like the style, which is something of a cross between a hooded and plate dropout, I wonder if the perhaps the section wasn’t thinned out too much. Alternately, perhaps the edges of the dropout should have been rounded more to reduce the likelihood that they act as a stress riser. Lastly, perhaps the particular alloy of titanium was not of sufficient strength, instead being chosen for ease of machining.

Dropouts seem so simple, but if that were true you would think that after 150 years of bicycle evolution failures would be unheard of. Up till now, I think most of that happened when frame manufacturers either get too ambitious in weight-reduction or too clever in making the dropout look cool or unique. From here on out, the requirements of disc brake mounting and adoption of thru-axles are going to burden designers in ways that were never before considered.


Sat, 01/16/2016 - 15:54

A video from a few years ago, but still relevant to the work it takes to become a world champ like Sven did in 2013. A win I watched on assignment for Wired. While CX is pretty much over in the states, Worlds is later this month on the 31st.

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 Launches

Fri, 01/15/2016 - 05:05

This morning on Sony Mirrorless Pro, blogged about the new Fuji X-Pro2 and welcome the completion in the compact-pro camera market. Also noticed the bike-related photos in Fuji’s 5th anniversary photo contest. Like this Tour photo

Photo: Julien Lacroix, Camera X-Pro1

And dreamy urban shot

Photo: Andreas Lamoutsis, Camera X-T1

Worth nothing too how Fuji is emphasizing rugged toughness with outside imagery and this battered-hero image.

Also see fashion and BMX


Photo: Peiro Migailo, Camera X100T

and tricycles.

Photo: Rami Gilvanon, Camera X-T1

Their mini site about the their AF technology also features more bicycle imagery – HELLO FUJI PR!

Expect the X-Pro2 to be welcomed by Fuji fans, as well as us, in our ongoing quest to travel lighter, smarter, and take better photos. The X-Pro2 body goes on sale for $1,699.95 next month at $400 more than the X-T1 from 2 years ago. It’s a premium pro compact camera targeting professional shooters, like the market Sony defined.

Trying To Find Something To Put On That Rack

Thu, 01/14/2016 - 12:04

Working on the next issue of our magazine and riding around trying to find something to put on that rack…the one on the Trek Boone. This one

I’ll tell you more about what we’re doing with the Boone in the issue; as well as content from our contributors.

Are Walmart Mountain Bikes Safe?

Thu, 01/14/2016 - 10:52

In a series of YouTube uploads, Seth from Seth’s Bike Hacks spends the $140.00 to test Walmart’s Mongoose MTB line and the results are what you’d expect. Not sure what Seth’s point is, but for some perspective, Walmart and Mongoose move millions of bikes a year and that’s quite a bit of bike for $140.00, and not really intended for the abuse they give it. These bikes are bought as gifts for kids or transportation to and from work. Also, see Chris Akrigg putting a Mongoose through way more abuse than Seth.

You get what you pay for or view on YouTube. So are Walmart mountain bikes safe? If you double-check the assembled and don’t jump them, then yes.

Miir Flagship

Wed, 01/13/2016 - 06:19

Bikes that benefit you and someone else

In a business that’s best described, as like “Thom’s for bikes and bottles,” the Miir flagship is an concept taproom bike and coffee shop. Don’t think one of those has existed before, besides maybe a coffeemaker and keg in the back of a shop, but it’s a nice place and they’re doing good work.

Nice pour and composition

Bike Hugger contributor Ben Moses took the photos for us, while I was in Vegas. If you’re into a two for one purchase that benefits those in need, stop by their flagship or visit Miir online. And if they start serving cannabis or whiskey too, they’d have a bike biz Superfecta

Nice selection

Your Grandma Races Cross (You Wish)

Tue, 01/12/2016 - 07:22

If you’ve ever thought, “wish my Grandmother raced cross,” here’s an inspiration for you AND grandma…Nancy Brown wins the 70-74 age group at CX Nats and did it to, just “Beat some other old women.”