Gear

The Perfect Arcadia Grit & Gravel Bike Is...

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After a glorious day of racing at Mud, Sweat and Beers, plus a full day of embracing beer and tacos on Cinco de Mayo, it’s time to look at to the next big (and local) thing: Arcadia.

Arcadia Grit & Gravel offers up one of the most unique concepts in the state. The mountain bike race has relied on a route that’s like nothing else to provide both a fun experience and a killer challenge to racers of all abilities. To start, the race combines nearly 10 miles of pavement, gravel, and two-track, plus two key climbs, to sort riders out. An opening ascent two miles in and another long, grueling climb near the 8 mile mark serve as separators, but there is plenty of time to be gained in the sinuous, rolling pavement in between.

The reward for all that cranking is arguably the best singletrack in the state. The Arcadia trail system combines two loops of flowing, winding, exhilarating trail on either side of a lonely, quiet gravel road that splits the trail in two. Riders are often giggling throughout these two sections of trail, and the final two miles back to Arcadia and the finish are simply a blur. Throw in blooming trillium at the roadside and some sunny weather, and there’s hardly a more beautiful race on the calendar.

But that sharp divide in terrain gives some riders a bit of indecision. A gravel bike for the first half, and take your chances on the trail, or is is smarter to survive the paved surfaces and thrive in the singletrack? It’s a decision that’s heavily influenced by your level of confidence in bike handling. We take a look at two options, one with drop bars and one for our mountain bikers.

Giant Revolt 2. The ideal rig for giving it a go on the gravel. The Revolt 2 comes with a 2x drivetrain that offer up a wide range of gearing options for the steep opening ascent of Erdman Road, which sees pitches over 11% and much of it in loose sand. Alternatively, you’ll have a big gear for stomping away on the pavement and will be able to stretch the bunch on the long paved downhill. But what about the trail? Well, the Revolt fits up to 700 x 48 or 650 x 2.0 tires, so you can get some pretty wide rubber on there for more traction once you hit the singletrack. You can see all the Revolt options here.

Scott Scale RC. For the singletrack shredder, going with a feather light hardtail is the way to go at Arcadia. While the race is just about 50/50 between gravel and singletrack, most racers would argue that the most important part comes with the sharp right turn into the woods at the top of Taylor Road. The ascent of the longest climb in the race almost immediately tosses riders from wide open roads to tight, twisting, trillium-lined singletrack, and if you hit it tired, you can get gapped quick. That’s why riding your lightest hardtail is a really smart option. To survive the gravel and pavement, make sure you’re running a 32t or bigger chainring to avoid spinning out. Once into the trees, slap off your lockout and get shredding! Check out the full Scale family here.

Do you have any tips for riders taking on their first Arcadia Grit & Gravel? Let us know in the comments!

Mud, Sweat and Beers 2019: Race Week Check List

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For Pros to beginners, Mud, Sweat and Beers is often the very first tilt of the season. It’s been a full six months since Iceman, and you may have forgotten what check before you hit the start line. We take you through a few things to do this week to make sure your rig is ready to shred.

You can’t gain much fitness in the final five days before a race, but you can take care of some of the technical details to avoid mechanicals and get the most out of the hard work you’ve put in to get ready for the event. We offer a quick race-week tune up to check and tweak some hard-to-adjust things like your bottom bracket and hubs, but there are plenty of things that you can do to make sure you’re all set.

  1. Tubeless refresh. When’s the last time you added sealant to your tires? If you aren’t sure, it’s probably time, especially if your bike hasn’t seen much action over winter. Adding 2-4 oz of your preferred sealant is the best way to avoid flats. Make sure you stick with the sealant you used last time; Stan’s and Orange Seal don’t interact well and may not seal a puncture as quickly. It might also be a good time to remove the tire and wipe out all the old, dried sealant, too. Ideal Day: Do this on Monday to make sure everything seals up and holds well.

  2. Drive Train Check. Use a chain gauge to check the stretch and wear of your chain. If it’s beyond .75, it may be time to replace your chain and cassette. If the weather looks bad, it may not be a bad idea to stick with your worn drive train until after the race so you don’t put some destructive miles on new parts. Ideal Day: Tuesday. This gives you a little time to ride the new stuff and make any adjustments that might be necessary.

  3. Torque It Down. Take a T25 or adjustable torque wrench and check your stem, seat post, and other bolts that you may have adjusted this spring. It’s also a good time to check for any play in your hubs, see how tight your thru axles or quick releases levers, even your how firm your pedals are installed.

  4. Spin Those Pedals. Pedals often get neglected. Take a second to feel for side-to-side play in your pedal body before a race to make sure you’re as efficient as possible. You can also spin the pedals and listen to a grind or a jerky, uneven turn. That means your bearings are dry and may need to be serviced. If you ride Crank Bros Egg Beaters or Candy pedals, you might also look to make sure that the springs aren’t rusted and move evenly. Ideal Day: Wednesday, so that you have time to ride new or serviced pedals a time or two before the event.

  5. Shock Pressure. Making sure your fork and shock are good to roll is key. Check your pressure and make a note of how the settings contribute to your recon ride. Play with a few psi firmer or softer, and make sure you adjust for sag as well. Nate is a genius at getting your fork or full suspension set-up for the trail. If you need pointers, stop by! Ideal Day: Every day. Keeping an accurate record of your suspension can help you make the right adjustments for how and where you ride.

There are few things as thrilling as tearing through the woods with your pals, and nothing more disappointing than having that experience soiled by a flat tire or loose part. Take five minutes a day this week to check one of these easy adjustments off your list, and if your bike needs more, get it into City Bike Shop soon! From everyone at the shop, have a wonderful race and we’ll see you at the start line!

The Top Secret Tip To Avoiding Summer Construction? A Bike.

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Summer construction is coming. Be ready.

Traverse City’s roads are getting a much-needed remake over the next few months, and it’s going to cause some headaches. First up is a complete closure of Eighth Street, now slated to start in mid-May. That means the project will be underway for Memorial Day Weekend, the Cherry Festival, and possibly the TC Film Fest as well. As a major cross-town artery, it’s going to push cars onto the Grandview Parkway and all sort of side streets just as we greet tens of thousands of additional tourists and seasonal residents.

This summer is the perfect chance to commit to the commute. Whenever possible, park the car and get around by bike! A backpack and a lock is really all you need, but we have found that using a dedicated commuter bike makes getting around easier. There are a few things to consider when either adapting your current bike to town duty, or for picking out something new.

Fenders. If you’re committed to parking the car, you’re going to find yourself riding in light rain or on wet roads plenty of times this spring. Fenders are a simply way to show up to work dry, and as a relatively inexpensive accessory, they’re a no brainer for most riders. When possible, buy a bike that comes with fenders; they’re already installed typically built into the price to save you a little money, and you KNOW they fit perfectly.

Racks. Especially once the temperatures get really warm, having a rear rack for books, computers, even a quick stop at the grocery store makes life easy. You’ll be able to decide between panniers, bags that sit on either side of your rear wheel on a rear rack, or a bag that will sit on top of your rear tire. Consider what you would like to carry every day, but also what sorts of errands you usually run on the way home from work. Panniers are often enough for stopping at the store for staples, especially if you have bags on both sides.

Lights. These days, even the racer-types ride with daytime blinking lights for getting around the roads a bit more safely. If you’re making the dash across town, investing in a set of lights will help you be seen by hurried, harried motorists. We recommend riding with a rear light at all times, ideally set to blink rapidly to draw drivers’ attention. It’s the most simple thing you can do to be a few degrees safer besides wearing a helmet.

Lock. You need one. While we’re lucky to live in a place with low bike theft issues, if someone sees a bike unlocked, they will take it. Defeat the opportunist’s theft by using a combination lock that runs through the frame. If you’re locking up for a long time, every day, it may also be worth adding a U-lock for a bit more security.

Giant and LIV offer a number of commuter and fitness bikes that are relatively inexpensive to buy and maintain, which means you can leave your race rig safe in the garage where it won’t fall victim to crime or be exposed to the elements. Stop by to see the Giant Escape City and LIV Alight 2 City.

Skip the stress, the stopped traffic, and the wasted time and build a little extra physical activity into your day! Stop by and see what’s new at City Bike Shop.

Scared of Riding Carbon? Don't Be. Giant Has You Covered.

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We’ve all had that buddy. They show up to the group ride and gingerly set their bike down on the ground, lean it precariously against the car, and take a step back to look at it. To us, it looks fine. But to them, it has a problem. Somewhere, usually near the seatpost or maybe on a chain stay, there’s a crack. Or, at the very least, something that looks terrifyingly like a crack. The buddy calls you over, and then everyone over. What do you think of that? Is it a crack?

Riders agonize over the little scraps and marks that are part and parcel to riding, especially riding in the woods. The anxiety of busting a frame has caused some folks we know to swear-off riding carbon frames. While we love steel and aluminum, there are plenty of riders who do benefit from the lightweight and riding characteristics of carbon for racing or just keeping up with pals. Luckily, Giant has your back.

Giant’s new Composite Confidence guarantee takes the stress out of owning a carbon frame or, as their program applies to components as well, anything carbon on your bike. The program, only just announced this spring, covers any broken components for two full years. No other company covers so much for so long, but it’s no surprise that Giant, the makers of most brand’s frames anyway, knows just what their carbon can take.

It’s pretty simple. If you buy anything carbon from an authorized Giant dealer (hey, that’s us) and it breaks while riding, you’re good. It doesn’t cover issues caused off the road or trail, so don’t leave your bike on the roof rack and drive into your garage. We don’t recommend that in any case, but especially not for a carbon warranty claim. If you experience an issue, bring it in. We’ll get the ball rolling for you and make sure you’re back on the trail or road as soon as possible.

For all the details, you can head here.

So what looks good? We’ve got the latest MTB, Road, and Gravel/Cross bikes in stock and ready to rock this spring, so stop by and ride carbon with confidence.

Spring Riding Essentials: Be Ready For The Thaw

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While we shoveled just two days ago and the shop windows were lined with frost this morning, spring is coming. With temps hitting the 40s and even 60s over the next few days, even a cold snap or two during the ides of March won’t slow the approach of spring.

To get ready, we put together a few bits of gear you might want to nab so you’re ready to roll when the roads are clear. With so much snow in the woods and much of the trails almost sure to turn icy, hitting the pavement is likely the best way to enjoy the warmer days.

  1. Tires. Even with mostly clear pavement, you’re going to find plenty of splotches of ice, dirt, debris, and water out on the roads. For more grip, put the widest tires you can on your road bike. We’re rocking a mix of Panaracer GravelKings in both the slick and treaded options in a nice wide 32c. We’ve had a ton of luck with these tires on the dirt and on the road over the past two years, and they’ve proven to be extremely durable for high miles and puncture resistant, too.

  2. Check Your Flat Kit. It’s been a long while since you’ve looking in your bag. Make sure your tube hold air, your chuck or pump aren’t rusted out, and make sure you’ve got a lever, a patch, and maybe a quick link, too. There’s nothing worse than flatting on a cold, soggy spring ride, only to find you don’t have everything you need to get moving again.

  3. Dress For Anything. Spring weather is notoriously changeable in northern Michigan, and if you head out in sun, seeing rain clouds unleash overhead just a few miles later isn’t a surprise. Always bring a shell or rain jacket, which will also come in handy if you have to stop for a flat. Grabbing a second pair of gloves for the second half of the ride isn’t a bad idea, either.

  4. Tubeless? Get Refreshed. Your wheels haven’t turned in a while, so you’ll need to make sure your tubeless sealant is refreshed. We usually take the extra second to take the tire off the rim and clean out the old, dried up sealant. If you don’t have an air compressor, it’s usually easier to just drop off your wheels and let us tackle it.

  5. Fenders. Especially if you ride with pals, a set of fenders are a real treat. Many bikes will have dedicated mounts to fit sturdy, full coverage fenders. Even if your bike doesn’t have those mounts, there are plenty of clip-on options that fit a wide range of wheel sizes and tire widths. They do more than just help keep you dry, too. Fendors also help keep your drivetrain, bottom bracket, pedals, and frame protected from slush and salt.

  6. Get Visible. Drivers often just aren’t used to seeing riders back on the road in March and April. This makes it more important than ever to wear bright, visible colors to stand out against the grey roads and white, snowy shoulders of the road. Even if you’re riding during day, use a pair of bright front and rear lights to draw more attention and give yourself a little more room.

  7. Get In Soon. Need a tune-up? Get in now. The first sunny day with temperatures over 50 and we’re going to get a big rush of bikes needing work. The sooner you can get your bike to Natron and Jeff, the better. Call ahead to reserve a spot or check in on our current turn-around time!

We’re exciting for the new season to get here, and we want to make sure we’ve got everything you need to hit the spring at full speed!

The Best Mountain Bike Team In The World Wears Stripes

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Okay, it might not be us, but the Scott-SRAM mountain bike team features two World Champions and the best fleet of bikes to choose from.

2019 is shaping up to be an incredible year for Scott-SRAM. Already known for seven-time World Champion Nino Schurter, the squad wasn’t happy with settling. This winter, they went after, and signed, newly-crowned women’s XCO World Champion Kate Courtney, putting both World Champions in the same team for the first time in the modern era of mountain biking.

It’s a pairing that promises big results in the season ahead, and they have some serious firepower to back them up, too. They squad has Lars Forster and Andri Frischknecht also on the roster. The quartet spent the last few weeks getting ready for an ambitious campaign that starts in earnest with the Cape Epic in mid-March.

Kate Courtney, the first American to win a World Championship in over two decades, will focus her season on the full World Cup and defending her world title. It’s a special season as she looks to hold onto the rainbow jersey, with the 2019 World Championships taking place in North America at Mount Sainte Anne in Canada this Septemeber.

At the shop, we’re really excited to see just how far SCOTT-SRAM can push this year. For Nino and for Kate, it’s a season where one will look to continue a dynastic dominance and the other looks to begin her own.

Check out how the team is preparing for the new season here, and stop by City Bike to check out the same bikes they’ll be riding in person!