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    Truvativ HammerSchmidt

    We’ve talked about highly anticipated products before. Hardly anything has had us biting our collective nails as much as Truvativ HammerSchmidt. That’s the beauty of the bike industry — once we think we’ve seen the best and brightest, and that technology has taken us to the top, along comes a new model year and a slew of hot new products. Thankfully, some schools around the country, and the world for that matter, are graduating industrious and enterprising designers and engineers. HammerSchmidt is the first of its kind to hit the beaches here in the states, one of a group of [...]

    We’re in the waning days of 2008, so it seems sensible to look back on the year and hand out some awards. This is Part One, pertaining to rides and gear. Part Two, which will follow in a few days, will pertain to the bike biz and miscellany -- RIDES Best climb of the year: We had no shortage of good ones this year. Nominees include: A Euro Pro training ride legend, Els Angels on the outskirts of Girona; the heavenly urban gem, Decker Canyon Road on the outskirts of Los Angeles; the Appalachian version of the Galibier, Roan Mountain [...]

    Rediscovering Local Trails

    Lately I’ve been finding myself gravitating to local trails in my area. Yes, you can attribute this to higher fuel prices, family responsibilities, and maybe just getting older. For the last ten plus years I’ve traveled all over Arkansas and the country in search of the perfect trail experience. Arkansas boasts classics like Buffalo Headwaters Trails, Womble, Ouachita Trail, Lake Leatherwood and Syllamo Trail System. Each trail has a special place in my mind and I have added them to my pool of mountain bike experiences. Epic trails bring out the wanderlust inside me to travel and explore new areas. [...]

    We would like to inform you about a product recall that has been implemented December 19, 2008. Through long term product testing, Magura has concluded that the first production batch of Durin Race 80/100 suspension forks may have a structural flaw in the lower leg assembly. Durin Race 80/100 suspension forks produced during the first production run must not be used from this point forward. Further use of this product may result in failure and pose a possible risk of danger to the user. We ask that you communicate this recall to your customers as soon as possible, reiterating that [...]

    ‘Even if markdowns are more aggressive than usual, it will still be a cheaper markdown now than if you have to take it later in the season.’ Brendan Hoffman, CEO Lord & Taylor, as quoted in the Wall Street Journal, 12/4/2008, ‘Holiday Shoppers Lured Only by Big Bargains’ It’s become axiomatic by now that when Christmas approaches, retailers pull out all the stops to drive revenue. ‘Tis the season for deep discounts, and as a retailer who cares as much about gross profit margin as I do revenue dollars, I often wonder what does it mean? What are the motivating [...]

    I Had an Old Pearl Izumi T

    I had an old Pearl Izumi t-shirt with the slogan ‘Save the Trails.’ Some of you may remember it. There was a big blue whale riding a mountain bike. It had a goofy smile on its face. It was obvious that the whale knew something about having a good time. Did he know something I didn’t? Years have passed and so has many a mile under my tires. I spent those early days in a town without trails. Sure, I could drive to some great trails, but ride from home? Well, I could, and I did. But those were rides [...]

    - 2009 is most definitely here, as evidenced by the backlog of cool new stuff in our receiving department. Highlights this week include the arrival of the Cervélo S3 and Shimano Dura Ace 7900, a combo we’re sure we’ll be pairing together countless times for the next few years. We built our first S3/7900 on Wednesday. There’s a lot to love: The ‘Rings’ paint scheme looks like a knock out in person. The flat-but-chunky S3 chainstays (the same stays used on the P4 TT frame) are pure sculpture, like Cervélo took Pegoretti Big Leg Emma chainstays and turned them 90 [...]

    Weekends like the one that just passed remind me that it’s a good time to be a cyclist. A few folks from the shop took our fat tired bikes out Sunday afternoon to enjoy some camaraderie, shake off the cobwebs leftover from Saturday night’s excess, soak in a beautiful fall day, and play on the singletrack in our soon-to-be backyard of Burns Park in North Little Rock. It was one of those days when most everything seems right with the world. The trail was dry and the soft sound of the light dusting of leaves on the ground crunching under [...]

    Update – 11/21/08

    - Michael Barry continues to impress us with his writing as much as with his racing. This article on was one of the best we’ve read in awhile, as much for who it’s about as what it says. ‘In a season which seemed loaded with doped winners and their Pyrrhic victories, his story is refreshing. These are the stories that give cycling its emotional depth…’ - A classic rule of business life is that when customers are disappointed, they complain. But when they’re happy, you rarely hear from them. It’s a rule that generally holds true here at Competitive [...]

    Q&A: The Trek Edition

    A week or so ago -- right around the time that Thee Almighty Lance did the weekend of time trialing at the Tour de Gruene in Texas -- we had some interesting comments posted to the What’s New section of Competitive Cyclist: ‘I hear you will be a Trek dealer soon, I heard a lot of talks at the Gruene TT that Lance attended. Is this true?’ And in the same vein: ‘Ya, I was also a attendee at the TT that Lance just did in Texas, a lot of talk about spreading his message and also the Trek brand, [...]

    Veteran’s Day 2008

    It is Veteran’s Day today, and the irony is not beyond me that when I’m on the road for a bike race or a business trip I often turn into a semi-dysfunctional mess because of how I miss my wife, my kids, and my daily routine so. Sometimes I look at the veterans I know -- two of whom I work alongside here at Competitive Cyclist on a daily basis -- and in light of my fragility I’m awed by the sacrifices I know they once made. It’s not my place to utter a word about the peril of their [...]

    Arundel Water Bottle Cages

    Arundel carbon fiber water bottle cages are our a hands-down favorite here at Competitive Cyclist. Join Andy as he takes you through the line one cage at a time, and highlights why these cages are a top pick among our staff and customers.

    - October has come and gone. Based on what I read in the papers, it was the scariest October for retail since 1969. Based on the slow-drip fright felt by me, my partners, and the staff here at Competitive Cyclist, it was the toughest single month to live through since the inception of our business a decade ago. For the first time we had real cause to acknowledge the fact that there’s so much to business we don’t control. It’s the sort of contemplation -- not unlike a clear-headed meditation on the inevitability of death -- that paralyzes. October has [...]

    Q&A, October 28

    If you’re a faithful reader of our What’s New section, then you’re probably aware that we’ve added some standard blogging functionality that allows readers to post comments. (Scroll down to the bottom to see it.) We appreciate the feedback, the questions, and the de facto effort at dialogue. Today we’ll try our best to answer the questions and comments from our last posting -- - Now that you’ve got the Campy 11 gear in stock, what’s the plan for keeping some of the older 10 gear goods on the shelves (like cassettes)? Unless you stop to really ponder it, it’s [...]

    - It’s pretty much impossible at this point to not obsess about the cratering of global economy, and how it relates to the bicycle business. We discussed this at length in our previous What’s New posting. Since then, a few interesting tidbits have come to light: Caisse d’Epargne made global headlines last week thanks to its ill-advised derivative wagering investments. Its $807mm loss was referred to as ‘a trading mistake.’ Their Chairman, CEO, and CFO all resigned a few days ago. The CEO issued a statement of amusing insincerity: ‘This loss was the result of the market’s exceptional volatility during [...]

    - Look at a line graph tracking the Euro to US Dollar conversion since late 2005 and it looks like a map of a mountaintop stage at le Tour. It stabs up and up, with only the occasional downward tease. For 3 years it’s been the financial equivalent of a leg-and-lung crushing attack-fest up the Tourmalet. We’ve gone from 1 EUR = 1.15 USD to upwards of 1 EUR = 1.6+ USD. The net impact to us as a retailer, and to you as a consumer, is pretty simple to assess: Prices have gone out the roof. Where they hurt [...]

    Campagnolo has once again outdone themselves with their new 11 Speed Gruppos. We explain, in detail, the differences between Chorus 11, Record 11, and Super Record 11 in our review of the latest from the masters in Italy.

    Add bicycle chains to underappreciated design marvels of bicycles. A chain has 400 some-odd parts, many of which are under stress every moment you’re pedaling. If a single one of those 400 has a problem, a roller seizes or a link sticks or separates, you’re in a lot of trouble. Still, most of us treat chains with indifference. Install. Clean and lube periodically. Replace. Despite the fact that it transfers all our energy from the cranks to drive the bike, we give it less thought than we give just about any other part. Maybe it’s because we haven’t seen a [...]

    A week in Vegas is an endurance event of sorts -- ours began with pounding the desert singletrack in Bootleg Canyon and ended with all night drinking sessions. We sleepwalked through the halls of the Venetian Hotel/Casino in the wee hours of the morning, only to rejoin consciousness holding the newspaper outside the door to our room in just a pair of plaid boxer shorts. Locked out. Hmmm. Despite the monumental excess of the Las Vegas strip, and hordes of useless products being pushed by overweight toupee wearing reps, we always have a good time. Mostly due to the many [...]

    2008 Interbike Confidential

    - Las Vegas is a city where nuance in any form is hunted down and eliminated execution-style. Perma-excess is the brand. Here at the Venetian Resort — home of the Interbike trade show — the Venice theme delivers not art, but four-story McFrescoes. Not elegance, but a numbing ocean of Sherwin Williams ‘Gusto Gold’ thinly painted near the floor and the ceilings; on the trim and the moldings. The bike industry has made threats in the past to re-locate & revamp our annual tradeshow so the profit drives advocacy & access instead of lining casino mogul pockets. But inertia and [...]

    Campagnolo has once again outdone themselves with their new 11 Speed Gruppos. We explain, in detail, the differences between Chorus 11, Record 11, and Super Record 11 in our review of the latest from the masters in Italy.

    Shimano Dura-Ace Wheels

    Shimano makes, perhaps, the most underrated race wheels on the planet. Whether you’re riding the 50mm tubular or the 1380g carbon clincher, the ride quality is perfectly balanced.

    Shimano Dura-Ace Grease

    Grease is just grease, right? Some sort of petroleum-based or petroleum-like substance that is somewhere between a liquid and a solid…That is, it’s just grease until it runs out of your races because it’s too thin, or causes your pawls to fail because it’s too thick. Shimano Dura-Ace Grease is the day-glo green stuff that comes gooped in and on Shimano parts. It seems to go anywhere there are bearings or threads. Until now, you had to go with another brand grease when re-packing your Shimano hubs, pulleys, and headset. But here it is. Special Grease Dura-Ace in a 50g [...]

    - Behind every asshole, I suppose, is an act of perceived injustice. And that’s likely the case here. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time in the last few months using the ‘What’s New’ section of the Competitive Cyclist site to bash the efforts of Team Slipstream/Garmin and, in particular, Jonathan Vaughters. My criticisms -- at least at the outset -- maybe had some vestiges of substance (e.g. Why has the cycling public extended authentic forgiveness to ex-doper David Millar, but continues to hold other dopers in contempt?) But over time, as I tired of regurgitating legitimate criticisms, I strayed [...]