Category Archives: adventures

Velodome, Belgium. Arguably the best looking bike shop I have seen

During a recent trip to Belgium, I had a chance to sit down with Philippe van Eekhout of Velodome in Antwerp.

You know you're doing things right when The Cannibal shows up shopping for bikes.
You know you’re doing things right when The Cannibal shows up shopping for bikes.

See the full Velodome interview here.

We discussed how he and his partners built a concept store and restaurant in the former stables of the De Koninck brewery, how they turned a 200 year old building into a modern bike shop.

Velodome was the exclusive Rapha dealer for the entire Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg. We look at the new brands they found and promote since Rapha decided to end their presence in retail stores.

Another interesting subject was the enormous rise of e-bikes in Europe, how they took over the majority of bike sales in a shop that was mostly aimed at road and mountain bikes. We look at how the EU supports people with tax benefits to get them out of their cars and onto e-bikes, but at the same time is struggling with regulating these hyper fast bikes on public roads.

Modern bikes on a centuries old cobblestone shop floor. Velodome is a travel destination.
Modern bikes on a centuries old cobblestone shop floor. Velodome is a travel destination.

Thanks to all partners: Philippe, Stijn and Maarten for their time in producing this video and for bringing better bikes to the people. See the interview on the Kogel Bearings Youtube channel

Ard

The best tv shows and documentaries for cyclists

With the days shortening and Kickr season right around the corner, I thought this is a good time to share some of the best cycling documentaries and tv-shows I have seen recently. Nothing helps kill time like staring at the screen when the indoor trainer is testing your mental stamina.

Being a lover of most things on two wheels, I hope I managed to find a good mix of all cycling disciplines. I have posted links to Youtube where I could find them. Others are available on Netflix.

The Armstrong Lie

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhAF8THpV1A

The return to racing and the fall of the Armstrong empire are shown, maybe in more details than we need to know.

Here’s a cycling block buster, but consider it for a second viewing if you have seen it. Where everybody knew the basics of the Armstrong story after the collapse of his empire in 2012 and early 2013, this movie shows how much force he used to silence his opponents. What ‘winning at all costs’ really means. As much as it established my opinion about Armstrong being the best of the cheaters and therefore his achievements are still somehow respectable, it mostly left me with a sour feeling seeing the lengths LA would go to to protect the fame and fortune he built for himself. The most interesting parts might be the interviews with Dr. Ferrari, a man who is known to not speak much in public.

 Clean Spirit (available on Netflix)

After the doping riddled history of cycling, Clean Spirit shows a new generation of cyclists. It follows the Argos Shimano team (currently Team Giant Alpecin) participating in the 2013 Tour de France. It documents the rise of new sprinting super star Marcel Kittel, who beat Cavendish and Greipel multiple times and we see a young Tom Dumoulin and John Degenkolb as parts of Kittel’s sprint train.

The most impressive part for me was the famous takedown of Tom Veleers by Mark Cavendish in full sprint. The aftershock of Cavendish apologizing via Twitter, but not willing to meet Tom face to face is shown in great detail.

Tom Veleers hits the deck hard after Mark Cavendish changes sprint line. Click on the photo for youtube footage.

Roam
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zA6QW0rUkA

One of the OG freeride mountain bike movies on a larger budget. This movie predates the wide acceptance of action cameras, so the directors got very creative. Cameramen hanging from zip lines, setting up rails in the forest. It’s all amazing. Watch this trailer first to get an idea of the behind the scenes work involved in making one of the best freeride films in history: https://youtu.be/bjuAUTarbdA 

De Ronde

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPDPyOUnD-Y

Here’s a look into the heart of Flanders. It’s known fact that Belgium has cycling flowing through its veins. The 9 episode series was shown on national television, telling stories about the lives of several families on the day of the 2010 Tour of Flanders. It’s dark humor, mixed with touching stories and amazing cycling footage. The directors had access to place cameras in several team cars and got the Sporza presenters to act in the show. Everything just flows perfectly between the race footage and the fictional story. The first episode is a bit slow and many characters are introduced, but as soon as the race kicks off it’s al gogogo. Subtitles are available on youtube.

The creme de la creme of Belgian actors and a chance to relive what was probably the best head to head competition between Boonen and Cancellara.

Disclaimer: European TV is very liberal. Even though this show was broadcasted on national tv at 8pm, please don’t come knocking on the Kogel Bearings HQ door if you’re offended by images that would have to be shown on HBO in the US :-)

Lookalike Eddy Merckx

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNULGZViKcA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bma6E0M03pA

Part of a reality show called Superfans, Frans is not a fan of Eddy Merckx, he thinks he IS Eddy Merckx. The two clips kick off with Frans mixing raw egg and Flemish sour beer for breakfast, just like Eddy. Frans shows his Eddy Merckx replica bikes and jerseys and how he rides the indoor trainer like Eddy. The second clip shows Lookalike Eddy gluing a tubular in 30 seconds, racing his orange bike across the cobbles just like… well you get the idea. Unfortunately, no subtitles on these clips, so you will have to sit through the parts of the wife frustratedly saying ‘I married Frans, not Eddy’, but it’s a good watch.

The same Superfans series followed fans of Sven Nys and how they dedicate their lives to chasing their hero to the races and on training loops. I’m sure you can find it with a Google search.

Frans truly believes he is Eddy Merckx. Follow this link for a bonus feature of lookalike Eddy celebrating the Cannibal’s 70th birthday.

Ride the Divide (available on amazon prime for a few bucks)

The longest mountain bike race in the world stretches 2700 miles from Canada to Mexico, following the Rocky Mountains. The race is non-stop, so whoever sleeps is losing time. Brutal! The race footage is good (don’t expect any Nino Schurter speed climbing or artificial rock gardens), but the scenery is the real winner here.

I hope this is enough footage to pull you off Zwift Island or the  Sufferfest videos when its time to cruise through a snow storm.

Ard

 

Best finds on the Interbike floor, day 1

Interbike brings a lot of excitement for many, which was shockingly  obvious looking at the amount of people hanging out  at Mandalay bay an hour before opening.  It’s like waking up on Christmas morning, but for bike geeks.

Walking the isles, meeting like minded people and looking at all the bling makes me feel like a kid at the Oakley  store. Only 5 big halls worth of that. So without further ado, here are some of the gems we  found in random order.

Abbey bike tools bearing press.

It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of the available bearing press tools on the market. It was only a matter of time before Abbey Bike Tools stepped up and redid it from the ground up. An integrated bearing to avoid rotational forces while pressing, a removable, magnetic lock nut (patent pending). I like what I see. A lot!

This press was in prototype stage, but I’m sure Jason Quade will redefine this tool the way he did with his previous releases. I’m hoping for a wide range of bearing drifts to fit all wheels, bottom brackets and head sets.

Two versions will be available, a shop version and a light weight edition for traveling race mechanics.

www.abbeybiketools.com
2015-09-16 16.51.39

Alto Velo hubs

Alto Velo is a new company that redesigned their hubs to have a solid axle from side to side for maximum stiffness. They added high flanges on the drive side to balance out the spoke tension. This in the end leads to a low friction, high stiffness wheel build. It is the smarter-not-harder approach that really spoke to me.

They do all their machining in Florida in order to control the super tight tolerances that make these hubs great.

Bobby Sweeting is the CEO of this new start-up. Keep an eye on him and his team. Their products might be showing up in the media and your local bike shop soon.

www.altovelo.com

2015-09-16 13.22.58
smarter, not harder. That is the impression these hubs left on me.

2015-09-16 13.22.53

Zoca one piece speedsuit

Zoca is a custom clothing company out of San Diego. The cool thing is that their production is all done in house. USA manufacturing with Italian fabrics. The best of both worlds!

The most impressive piece in their booth was this speed suit. I have no info about wind tunnel numbers, but it was super impressive because the entire suit is cut out of one piece of continuous fabric. There are seams all over that just  seem to start and end in the middle of panels.

According to sales and marketing director Jason Schutz, this piece has been in development for over a year. He referred to it as ‘a big origami project’.

2015-09-16 13.50.04 2015-09-16 13.50.26

Boo Bicycles

Boo  have been around for a while, but seeing the bikes in person made me realize how much eye for detail is in these frames. The carbon and bamboo sections flow so well into eachother, it is just amazing. Nice detail is how they used two bottom cups in the head set to keep a straight 1,5 head tube and space everything out correctly.

www.boobicycles.com

That's right, two bottom headset cups. Note how the text is upside down on the top cup.
That’s right, two bottom headset cups. Note how the text is upside down on the top cup.

That’s it. We’re sorry for not updating this on the day we shot all the footage, but something got in the way. CROSSISHERE!!! Check in tomorrow for more shiny bits.

Danny Summerhill debuted for Maxxis-Shimano on Kogel Bearings. Our first time involved as a jersey sponsor. Keep an eye out for this team tearing up the US CX scene in the months to come.
Danny Summerhill debuted for Maxxis-Shimano on Kogel Bearings. Our first time involved as a jersey sponsor.
Keep an eye out for this team tearing up the US CX scene in the months to come.

How to clean your bicycle and protect the bearings

In this feature I will address bicycle maintenance, especially cleaning and how to avoid damaging your bearings while doing this. Riding for decades in Belgium and The Netherlands and now living in the Southwest US desert, I understand that the level of cleaning is not  only depending on the type of riding your bike is exposed to, but also depending on your geographical location. A CX bike in Tucson, AZ probably lives an easier life than a road bike in Oudenaarde, Belgium.

How much cleaning does your bike need?

As I brought up in previous posts, bicycle maintenance is very much about being honest with yourself. Think what your prized possession has been exposed to and choose a matching level TLC. If you are a roadie in Southern California, chances are good that your bike can do with a wipe down every week or two weeks and a drive train cleaning every now and then. If you live in a wet climate and your Sunday rides will happen rain or shine, you will probably need a bucket with some brushes, a large sponge and soapy water to restore the showroom shine. Mountain bikes live a harder life and might need some garden hose treatment after a muddy ride. I know cyclocross mechanics that drive straight from the race course to the car wash to get all the muck off bike and kit.

when racing elite CX in Belgium, bikes are not the only things that are hard to clean. Stef Wyman shows how to deal with the reality of getting that national champ jersey back to it’s original colors.

 

While we never recommend power washing bicycles, in CX there simply are no options. Since the bikes get several treatments during the race already, the one after the race probably cannot do a lot more damage. The result is simple: drive home from the carwash and take the bike apart in order to remove any stagnant water from the frame, hubs and headset.

Do the minimum, but make sure it is sufficient

Once you have determined the contamination level, it is time to determine the minimum cleaning level you can get away with.  It is no secret that moving parts on bicycles are no fan of water. If you can avoid using it: good. One of my favorite cleaning products for years has been Pedros Bike Lust. It is a liquid that comes in a spray bottle, perfect for taking dust off a bike, and leaves a shiny residue on your parts that actually repels dirt. It’s a weird slippery goop, so keep it off brake surfaces of rims, disks and brake pads. The goal with this minimal cleaning approach is not to cut corners, the goal is to get the bike back to showroom condition with the least amount of work.

Pedros bike lust was my secret weapon in Belgium. I loved how customer’s jaws dropped to the floor when they met their revitalized bike again.

 

What if you have to use water for bike cleaning?

Again, the minimal cleaning rule applies: a bucket with soapy water is better than the garden hose and the carwash should be avoided when possible. Remember that the deeper you let the water penetrate, the more time you will be spending cleaning and drying the internals of your two wheel wonder.

JOrge Romero of the UnitedHealthcare pro racing team shows that bicycle cleaning requires eye for detail. Small paint brushes are perfect for degreasing a drive train and not getting aggressive products all over the frame.
Jorge Romero of the UnitedHealthcare pro cycling team shows that bicycle cleaning requires eye for detail. Small paint brushes are perfect for degreasing a drive train and not getting aggressive products all over the frame.

How to protect ball bearings during cleaning?

Trying to keep water off your bearings is the first step. Avoid spraying water directly into the headset, bottom bracket and suspension pivots is next. There are some steps you can take if you know your next cross race is going to be sloppy. Pack the outside of your bearings with a water resistant grease. When I was a mechanic in Belgium, I would take the fork out of the every bike during service and literally cover the lower headset bearing in a marine grade grease. It was a given that my customers at one point or another would be riding in heavy rain. The same can be done with bottom bracket and suspension bearings. Simply take off the covers, apply a layer of grease on the outside of the seals and put the covers back where they came from. Typically this adds a bit of friction, but nothing close to the friction caused by rusty races.

The last step is to always think about stagnant water in a bike. Taking out your crank and cleaning the inside of your bottom bracket shell is a good one, but think of the water that can get trapped inside suspension pivot points, inside brake levers and derailleur pivots. This is where compressed air is your friend. If you are the lucky owner of an air compressor, get a gun with a long nozzle and blow every nook and cranny dry. As with pressurized water, I am always afraid that compressed air will actually force water underneath the bearing seals, but I have never been able to prove this. Keep a bit of distance when aiming directly at your rotating parts.

Most cyclists care more about their bikes than many other things in life. There is a good chance you dropped serious cash when you rescued yours from the shop. It deserves the best care you can give it. Remember minimal but sufficient cleaning and prevention when you know things are going to be bad.  Washing your  bikes frequently will help you build up a procedure to do it thoroughly and quick. The  above video of team Tinkoff Saxo shows incredible amounts of muscle  memory and hand-eye coordination. Something that can only be achieved after years of repeating the same exercise over and over.

Will you sponsor me?

Sponsorship is a sensitive subject at Kogel Bearings. We get questions about it almost as much as we get questions about how to install a bottom bracket. And I understand it. Cycling is an expensive sport for most people, although that is relative if your other hobby is racing Aston Martins on the weekend. Add race registrations and travel expenses to your bike purchase and you’re looking at a pretty penny.

I also understand that everybody loves free stuff, as you can witness if you ever visit the Tour de France caravan. People ending up in fist fights over beer coolers with the name of an insurance company printed on it or even better: used water bottles thrown out by pro riders. The big problem for Kogel Bearings is that by giving you our products in exchange for only your race results, it becomes just like the used water bottle: free stuff. The shine wears off within minutes of scoring what looked like a precious gem at one point.

Will Kogel Bearings sponsor our team? We will put your logo on our jersey.

So, you have a team and some are landing podium spots. Awesome! At any time we will be happy to give you a team deal if it does not conflict with the below points or one of our local dealers. Here’s the catch though: The entire team proudly wearing the Kogel Bearings logo on their jerseys but Chris King and Shimano bottom brackets in their bikes makes us look silly. Before you ask that question, have a team meeting and see if every single rider is willing to make a discounted purchase.

Does anyone spot a sponsorship conflict in this picture?

How do you represent our business?

Here’s an obvious one: if you ride around with our logo on your jersey, you all of a sudden become the face of our business. If you race like a douche or tell the slowest person on the training ride to hurry up because you need to be home in time to watch Bar Rescue, this person is probably not going to become a Kogel Bearings fan. Be nice to people, even when you don’t want to. After your worst racing day ever, we still expect you to go to the podium ceremony and applaud the winners.

While you’re at it, make sure your social media makes us want to be you. Athletes posting pictures sunsets and post ride espressos are more likely to get our support than athletes having strong opinions on controversial political topics.

kogel bearings mountain biker cries
So you trained hard for your big race, but someone else wanted it more? You even dropped a chain? If your reaction ends up on youtube like this video, expect the contract negotiation with your sponsor to be up tomorrow at 8am.

See the full video here.

Sponsorship is all about the money

When you approach a business and ask to receive their products for free, always keep in mind the number one goal of any business, which is to show a profit at the end of the year.  By sending you a free bottom bracket or set of wheel bearings, you have just put a $200 negative transaction in our account books. Always keep in mind what you do to replace that money and a bit more. That makes the transaction valuable to your sponsor. This could come in the form of promoting the brand to your friends and fans in such a way that they want to buy, it could be in getting a review written on your personal blog or better yet in a magazine. By doing that, you have just saved the company some advertising dollars or generated a sale for them. Imagine if you would talk to your local bike shop and turn them into a devoted Kogel Bearings dealer. You’re guaranteed a spot on our team for a good while.

Be an ambassador for the brands that support you

So now that you have decided to be nice, sponsor logo correct and understand the business side of your deal, try to have fun with it! This womens team recently came on my radar. At the time of writing, Fearless Femme p/b Haute Wheels Racing still have to start their first race and I already consider myself a fan. A team of badass girls in well-coordinated kits, riding expensive custom frames and with Lexus team cars. On top of that they will kick most people’s rear end on a thirty minute climb or in a sprint finish. What struck me most is that every single post on their Facebook is about having fun and shows that they think outside the box. We would be honored to have them promoting our brand next year. In fact, Amy Cutler is already part of the Kogel family for some time.

Helen Wyman is another racer we have been proud to be involved with. Here she is, exchanging high fives with fans right the first ever world cup race on home soil. She did not finish in the spot she was aiming for, but she was still all smiles in front of these people and the cameras.

But, I asked if you will sponsor ME?

That’s entirely up to you. Although road and mountain bike racing season is in full swing, cross season is coming up. Reach out at any time with a well thought out proposal and Kogel Bearings will be all ears.

How often should I service my bearings?

At Kogel Bearings we get a lot questions about the service interval of our bearings. The official answer is  that you should service your bearings once per year. It is not difficult to see that this is a very generic, almost randomly chosen time period. It does not take the mileage, weather conditions, bicycle type or overall maintenance of the bicycle into consideration.

In order to give a more detailed answer to the questions about bearing service, let’s have a look at what causes the need for service.

Bearing Contamination

This one is very obvious: just like mud on your chain, water and sand make an excellent paste to grind the internal parts of your precious bearings to pieces. In our production facilities we spend an unbelievable amount of time to polish the balls and races that are used for our bearings. After that, we consider the process to be finished. You are probably not going to improve the polish quality during your ride.

When your bearings are contaminated, you can easily feel this by removing the cranks or wheel axle, sticking your finger inside the bearing and spinning it. Smooth spinning is good, the slightest hint of gritty feeling is due to stuff inside your bearing that should not be there.

The picture of the left is a generic bottom bracket after three muddy  rides. The PF30-24 on the right is boxfresh and ready for action.
This is what our competitors bearings looked like after three muddy rides. Some TLC is due. The PF30-24 on the right is boxfresh and ready for action.

Being not much of a scientist and a lot of a common sense guy myself, being honest with yourself brings a lot of answers. Did your last mountain bike adventures involve river crossings? Have you been out riding in the rain? Did you take your bike to the carwash and not tell anyone about this horrible offense? In all cases it is good to give your bearings (and complete bike while you’re at it) a quick check.

Bearing Lubrication

Our high quality hybrid ceramic bearings require very little lubrication. During production we usually fill them a bit more than necessary, since we feel that your bearings should be for everyday use and not a race day or velodrome only product. While the road bearings feel very smooth rolling out of the box, they usually feel better after a couple hundred miles. This is due to the grease being pushed to the sides of the bearings, leaving only a thin film on the raceways and balls.

Nothing looks better than some freshly cleaned and repacked bearings

Since the bearings are made to run with minimal amounts of our Secret Grease Mix, I consider it not so much of a factor for the service interval. A light swishy swishy sound (as opposed to scraping and grinding sound to stay fully scientific) coming from your bottom bracket while spinning the crank is not necessarily a bad thing. Most of our bearings sound like that after break in.

The 1 year interval is probably a good indication here, unless you are lucky enough to find time to ride over 10.000 miles per year of course. Remember common sense!

Have a look at this video, which was shot while preparing some sample bearings for the UnitedHealthcare team time trial camp. These bearings are running completely dry. The riders were given bearings that had only a drop of oil with the intention to give them a top level performance that lasts for about 50 miles.

kogel bearings spin test

dry running bearings spin faster than anything, but it can cause heat build up and affects durability

Wear and tear of the bearing seals

The bearing seals are one of the few parts on your bike where a non-moving part is pressed against a moving part. By definition this causes friction and friction causes wear. Compare it to skidding your rear tire on the road or trail.

Bearing seals wear out over time, changing the quality from ‘fully sealed’ to ‘fully unprotected’. They are also cheap and easy to install. For anyone that has ever tried to remove a bearing seal without damaging it, you know it’s a gamble. I have tried it once or twice myself and consider it a 50/50 chance of success. Let us take the frustration out of it for you, it really feels good to be able to yank those seals out without caring if you bend or break them. It will save you some time too. Do this with every bearing service and you will live a happier life, promise!

Conclusion

In conclusion to all the above: Officially we recommend to service Kogel Bearings once per year, but this does not mean you can ignore these hard workers that sit at the center of every rotating part of your  bicyle. Keep an eye out for contamination, at least minimal lubrication and replace those seals with every service.

 

In a next blog post we will show a step by step of how to perform a bearing service.

Kogel bearings Q&A: Sem Gallegos

This week, our  blog  will feature an interview with Sem Gallegos. Sem has been a big promoter of Kogel Bearings ever since I first set foot in his work shop at Crazy Cat Cyclery in El Paso, TX.

Since then Sem has been helping us with product development and recently joined as a  team member to support our growing brand.

  • Tell us about yourself, where are you from?

I was born and raised in El Paso, TX, and still happy to call this little big city my home. Although I ventured out of town for college and other personal and business ventures, I could not wait to come back home and explore our beautiful mountains, on and off the bike.  Wearing shorts and a t-shirt in December is one of my favorite pastimes (Sorry, rest of the country haha). But I also enjoy skiing and snowshoeing, so I am glad I am only a couple of hours away from the alpine forest that I call my second home: Ruidoso, NM.

Besides the passion I have for cycling, I enjoy listening to music, the occasional trail run to keep the ankles nice and strong and my personal delicacy of various cheeses…yes I love cheese.

sem gallegos kogel bearings 1

How did you get into cycling and racing?

If it weren’t for my older siblings whom discovered the sport, I probably wouldn’t have crossed paths with cycling. I started as a weekend warrior, where I thought riding 4 miles was epic. Then quickly became more interested in the racing and training aspect. Now I can say that I have participated in every discipline of cycling: from the full-face helmet and 40lb bicycle of downhill racing to the skinny tires and paperweight bike of road racing. I did my time as a young rebel on the BMX bike, only to soon find myself in a tight skin suit in 20-degree weather with mud flinging off my cyclocross bike. Soon I realized that my passion in cycling was and will always be in mountain biking. Whether it is a short lung busting cross-country race or a long mind boggling endurance test on sweet sexy singletrack that makes me smile. Every time I feel like a grade school kid when discovering the freedom and fun to be had on two wheels.

 Can you share some crazy moments from your races?

Crazy moments? Hmmmm…. I believe riding a bicycle on trails that are obviously not meant to be ridden on a bike is crazy enough.

 sem gallegos kogel bearings

Bend, Oregon, host to 2011 Marathon Nationals was the setting for a good race experience, with a major fail! Ten minutes into this long day in the saddle I found myself in a spot of trouble, I was redlined!  The primary reason for this oxygen depletion to my brain was Peter Stetina. Fresh off the Giro d’Italia, he appeared to be making my destruction his first task. Ka-Boom! Only 20 minutes into this 4-hour affair, I had blown up and recovery had become my new goal…. Hours later I crossed the finish line still waiting for that to happen. Ouch!

How did you get started as a bike mechanic?

I was simply thrown to the wolves. At the ripe age of 17, I began my journey as a bicycle mechanic. I did not know what to expect and didn’t know what was expected of me. I was always intrigued with my father and his passion for breaking and fixing vehicles. Although a car mechanic and bicycle mechanic are completely different, working with my hands and solving problems is something that quickly became second nature to me.  Since then I have moved up the many ranks of a bicycle technician (giggles). I am still pleased to be getting my hands dirty and help customers tune their ride.

 Which are the best bike hacks or McGyver projects you worked on?

I work in an industry were bike hacks are almost mandatory. Guess I don’t think of it as out of the ordinary when you have to conduct a b-hack as the last resort.

Never question a mechanic and his favorite tools.
Never question a mechanic and his favorite tools.

 Some bike hacks are there, just to get home or make things work. Like using a power bar wrapper to fix a torn tire, or using duct tape and a stick to support a broken frame after a crash. Others, I am proud to have helped accommodate the rider to his ride. The ultimate hack for me was setting up all the control levers of a Di2 setup on the left side using a correct brake/shift lever and climbing shifter on the same side for a passionate amputee. Along with that, we recreated the brake line with a splitter to allow the use of one lever to control both brakes, of course with independent modulation for each brake.

 How did you get involved with Kogel Bearings?

Ard, the founder of Kogel Bearings, came through the shop door and asked if I wanted to aid my customers in improving their experience. And I said hell yes! I have always believed in high quality upgrades to improve the customer experience and why not put confidence in them where it is necessary? With all the new and different bottom bracket standards in the industry and its run of bad luck, I was running out of options as to solving those problems. But here was my answer. Good-bye creaking frame! And the quality of the bearing itself compliments the cups to the fullest. It’s a ceramic revolution and I knew I wanted to be involved further with the development of this product.

 How are you involved in Kogel’s product development process?

I am lucky to still be a full time service manager at a shop. This provides me the opportunity to test the cups and bearings on all of the industries bottom brackets. At Crazy Cat we are a dealer of all major brands on the market. On a daily basis I make sure that the tolerances are exact and the quality of the bearing is up to our standards. I make sure that the installation procedure is easy enough for the consumer to install, although I always recommend a certified technician to install them with the proper tools. I am basically in charge of finishing the samples in such a way that it causes the least amount of headaches to the user.

 

Sem at work putting  his Cross bearings through a mud test.
Sem at work putting his Cross bearings through a mud test.Which other tasks to you have at Kogel Bearings?

 

Which  other tasks do you  have at Kogel Bearings?

Besides helping with product testing, I handle sales in Arizona, New Mexico and South Texas. I am also pleased to be available for any customer service question you might have. This includes technical questions and/or product availability. Along with this, you may be at the receiving end of my super fast shipping and handling.

What are your future plans, any dreams, professionally or in your personal life?

My goal and dream when I first began my career in cycling was to reach the professional level in mountain bike racing, and I was fortunate enough through lots of hard work and dedication to attain that goal. Although I am currently semi-retired in racing, my current focus will be to continue racing occasionally with an emphasis on being an ambassador to the brands I represent. There is always a chance that I might reinstate myself to the life of competitive racing and set new goals for myself.  I will continue as service manger for Crazy Cat Cyclery, vice president of the Borderland Mountain Bike Association, and working for Kogel Bearings. 

Road or mountain, Sem will  is happy to put people in the hurt box.
Road or mountain, Sem is happy to put people in the hurt box.

With the integration of these three, busy but very exciting times are to be had. I will continue to spread the word and craving for this amusing lifestyle, one tune up, bearing upgrade and group ride at a time!

 As far as my personal life is concerned, I will continue to shred snow and single track lines in winter and repel off sketchy lines in the summer. And who knows, I might just move closer to the equator in the future.

 Coffee or beer?

Not a fair question…but I choose coffbeer.

Any funny jokes about balls?

What is the difference between a snow man and a snow woman?

Snowballs….  Hahahaha, that’s pretty fun, right??

 

Sem is mostly working behind the scenes, but he will be traveling to stores in the Southwest, Texas and he  will visit events with us. He also might pick up the phone when you try to reach Kogel Bearings. Don’t be a stranger! Hit him with a technical challenge, he gets a kick out of that.

We’re excited to have you as part of our Ball Bearing Adventures Sem, Welcome to the team!

Ard

 

Cyclocross Nationals in Austin, TX. What the heck just happened???

I am a firm believer of everyone being the king or queen of their own Facebook page. I choose to keep my private and the Kogel business pages on social media upbeat, positive and supportive at all times. But boy, do I have a hard time today. I came home from the Cyclocross National Championships in Austin, TX, ten hours earlier than planned. I am left questioning how this fantastic event spun out of control in a matter of minutes.

Hashtag CXNATS was going to be a teambuilding trip for Kogel Bearings. Mind you, we are a team of two in the US, so we could have called it ‘two dudes in a minivan’ as well. During the 9 hour drive across Texas we were looking at pictures of Tim Allen ripping his Kogel bearings to a podium finish in the single speed category. Sem and I knew this was going to be a good ‘business trip’, on par with the Louisville, KY worlds of 2013.

kogel bearings tim allen single speed cxnats

Friday morning we hit the course and it was full of life: riders training, expo booths open, people  having a good time. Not bad for 8am. The rest of the Friday  was spent visiting shops and going to the movie premiere of For the Love of Mud, a ninety minute documentary about  the history and current state of Cyclocross. Spirits were high!

On Saturday we watched the girls’ collegiate race. The course had gone from ‘people trying to ride it’, to ‘people trying to walk it’ overnight and these youngsters were attacking it like true soldiers. Another spectator came up and mentioned that we were almost more fun to watch than the girls racing, enough said.

kogel bearings coryn rivera cxnats

Sunday morning started with watching the Belgian Championship. This race was hit with four days of consistent rain before the event. The puddles were well past ankle deep and we saw images of bulldozers scraping the mud off the course because the show needs to go on. Sem and I were racing to layer up our clothes and head to the park until we saw a tweet about the event being delayed, then cancelled, then being rescheduled due to rain, mud and erosion of the ground. What the heck?? CX Nationals cancelled due to that what makes it so much fun??

The video on this page shows the Belgian CX course being prepared with bulldozers scraping mud off the course.

I am trying to wrap my head around why this event went belly up so fast. Clearly the mud in Belgium did not stop anyone from riding, the Louisville worlds course was about to be flooded in 2013, but somehow the city worked it out to create one of the most memorable events in my personal cycling history. The city of Louisville clearly had a different approach to cycling as does the city of Austin. Many feel that Austin was happy to take the economic impact of thousands of cyclists coming to town and spending their money, but not so happy to take the physical impact of bike racing in a public park. People are feeling robbed. According to Twitter, it took a phone call from Austin’s most famous cyclist to reschedule the event instead of canceling it all together.

My heart goes out to the racers and their fans, who spent hours training and thousands of dollars to get to this event, only to not race their biggest race of the year. Sure the event is rescheduled, but even riders at the elite level of this sport have day jobs to support themselves. Katie Compton had to spend a bunch of money to rearrange flights, rental cars and hotels, which is bad. But my toes curl when I read that Jess Cutler, one of the most badass women in US pro cycling, needs to miss the delayed  event because her day job is calling. Marian University is returning home without letting their U23 and elite riders compete, since the kids have classes and exams to go to. I really wonder if the decision makers at Parks and Recreation understand the impact of their actions. Why can a small town in Belgium and Louisville, KY make  the best out of a challenging situation and  Austin fails on all levels. Those events will be talked about for years. In a good way.

To add insult to injury, news  is starting to come in about bikes being stolen from teams overnight. Mosaic lost one, the Pony Shop team had to hand over another five to Austin’s criminals. I sincerely hope that Austin Police will work as hard to catch the thieves as they did to keep riders off the course on Sunday.

What remains is a sour after taste and the cycling community picking up the pieces of this explosion. For me, I will be ringing my cow bell in front of the live feed to support the riders that did manage to stay overnight and race the race they worked so hard for. We took a few steps back during amateur hour, let’s hope that everybody involved is taking a good look at their work and tries to cover all the potholes on our way to success. We have another chance to show the world that US cycling is not to be messed with. Let’s make the 2015 Richmond Road Racing Worlds an event that is on everybody’s mind for the years to come!

Ard

Presents for the cyclist that has everything

With the holiday season fast approaching, lots of family members of avid cyclists will have an easy job deciding what to buy for their spandex clad friend: something for the bike. BOOM! That was easy. Reality sets in when said family member walks into a bike shop. Picking only one or two of the shiny bits and knowing you get the right thing is about as easy as getting an engineering job at NASA.

For all family members and friends of cyclists, Kogel’s Ball Bearing adventures have made a list of six things that any cyclist will be happy to find under the Christmas tree. We tried to represent all price levels.

Power bars, gels, nutrition: Price level $2 and up.

This sounds like a totally boring thing to buy, but believe us: almost every cyclist uses these and the purchases get expensive over time. It’s a sure shot, every cyclist will love a bag of Skratch or some Hammer.

 

Skratch Labs hydration mix is a popular choice for cyclists

Clothing hangers made of bicycle rims: Price level $25.

Some wheel companies make products from their rejected parts in production. Reynolds cycling makes clothing hangers out of their faulty rims. We have not seen these in many cyclist’s closets yet.

Lightweight also makes hangers out of faulty rims, but since their wheels typically run $6000 per set, expect these hangers to cost top dollar.

Lightweight carbon garment hanger, ca 100 Euros

 

Chris King coffee tamper: Price level $85 – $125.

Most cyclists love their coffee, so don’t be surprised if your shaved legged friend owns a manual espresso machine. This tamper from Chris King is again made out of production parts that were not good enough to sell for their intended purpose. They still make great eye candy for any cyclist’s kitchen.

These espresso tampers are made of rejected headset parts.

Wooden Bike Shelf: Price level $150.

Cyclists love to show off their rides and some bikes look good enough to be displayed as art. There are several companies offering bike shelves made out of wood, our favorite is Urban City Bike shelves, although their Facebook page recently announced a hiatus in the production. Bri+Co also gives some good shelf recommendations.

Urban City Bike Shelves makes beautiful bike racks in their Queens, NY workshop.

Casual Clothing by Pavé, Upright Cyclist and Panache: Price level $22 – $250.

There are quite a few companies that make casual clothing for cyclists. These can be jeans with a little extra room in the thighs for cycling legs, plaid shirts with technical fabrics or little cycling features to look smart off the bike. Here are some of our favorites:

Upright Cyclist is a Colorado company and is on a mission to design functional apparel that performs like bike clothing, but looks like every day clothes.

Upright Cyclist Fishtail Parka $229 and riding denim $119

 

Panache Cycle Wear is mostly known for its racing kits but they have a great casual collection.

Pavé is another favorite. The brand is not officially launched yet, but has been generating a lot of media attention with their pre-Kickstarter campaign. US Pro cyclists Alex Howes and Kiel Reijnen have been endorsing the brand.

 

Gravel bike: Price level somewhere between $800 and being in need of a new mortgage

This is only if your significant other has been a VERY good boy or girl this year. There is literally nothing on the planet that makes a cyclist happier than a brand new bike.
Gravel riding and racing is a segment that has been growing explosively in the last year. It is basically taking road bikes and riding them on a combination of asphalt and gravel roads. For this new segment a new bike is an absolute necessity (cyclists refer to this as the ‘n+1 rule’). Just go to a bike shop, say ‘I am looking for a gravel bike for my husband/daughter/friend/aunt’, swipe the Visa and prepare to never have to get up out  of your chair to get anything from the kitchen come Christmas time.

 

The GT grade is a fantastic go-anywhere-bike, prices range from $800 to $3600

 

 

If you are really a family member of a cyclist and read this article all the way down to here (we expect 95% of readers to be cyclists, asking themselves how to bring this article to the attention of their significant other), we have another piece of advice. Take a trip to your friend/partner/parent’s local bike shop and talk to the employees. There is a good chance they know your receiving friend by name and know what he/she owns and likes. If anything, they have kept a record of previous purchases and can advise you what to buy.

From us at Kogel Bearings, we wish you happy shopping and an amazing holiday season.

 

**If you have any questions about Kogel Bearings, ball bearings in general or our Ball Bearing Adventures, please ask them either in the comments section below, one of our social media channels or by email via info@kogel.cc. We will answer them in a highly professional, but not always scientific way. We do not shy away from many subjects. Please ask, we are here to answer.