* Have no fear, punters, it’s strictly newsletter time again. It was going to be a special out there edition, but lately things have been getting too straight around here - in fact, there’s been a Roadie revival. Big bunches, skinny bikes, vitamin pills and Tour de France videos are taking over. Our pick for this summer is a major road bike revival, but hopefully all the real mountain bikers will get shaken out of their apathy, get hard, get an angle on and make some shapes.
* Hot and frotty for the 96 season will be affordable dual suspension bikes. Diamond Back are planning five new suspension models, and Specialized will have FSRs at several price points. This summer is likely to be the start of a big suspension boom, and could lead to some exciting new stuff coming through, instead of the previous few years of sifting about with chainwheel size. Dual suspension is faster for downhill, but whether it’s better for cross country is still being disputed. Maybe downhill races should have a separate class for "hardtails".
* It was CU BU time in Courtenay Place, where Bicycles Eliminated finally got toasted. Stocktaking always used to mean counting up your stock to see what you have, but showing some creativity, BU posted up "Closed for stocktaking" signs as wholesalers literally queued up to take the stock. There were several reasons why this happened, none of which were unpredictable, and there are many other shops presently headed the same way.
* Wellington, in recent years, has been crowded with bike shops desperately trying to make a quick buck and pay the bills, but ultimately a bike shop, like any other business, has to make a profit to stay around. Next time you go to the supermarket for groceries, try asking for a student discount, a subcard discount, a frequent shopper discount, a cash discount, a discount because it’s cheaper in another supermarket, a meat eaters discount, and a discount for not having B.O. They will say C.U., and so would bike shops if they weren’t all competing to put each other out of business. Despite the fact that neither knowledge of bikes, or good business sense seem to be currently considered essential for starting up a bike shop, we predict that in the long run, service will win out over half price sales.
If there’s one part that freaks people out just how fast it wears out, it has to be brake pads. In winter, courier riders fully munt a set of Tektros in two wet days, hardcore thrashers trash a new set of Shimano LX pads in one hard ride - why are pads so soft core? Are we selling marginal dribbler pads?
Leafing through a recent copy of Velo News mag (May 22, 1995), we came across an excellent article on brake pads, in which a bunch of the top brake pads available in the USA were tested for both dry and wet stopping times.
As well as wear and stopping times, another major factor is squeal - some pads are particularly prone to squealing, even with plenty of toe-in. Also, some pads are predictable and progressive, working with a similar feel in both wet and dry conditions, while others grab on suddenly with no progressiveness, or give up the ghost when they are wet. Occasionally, people also seem to care how much the pads cost. Not all the pads that Velo News tested are easily available in NZ, but we do sell the three top rated pads. This chart shows only the pads available in NZ.
#1. Scott-Mathauser Superbrakes always win brake tests , and have done for the last ten years. They last forever, but unfortunately have this habit of squealing like a stuck pig on at least half the bikes we’ve tried to fit them on. They are also hard to control in the wet and induce wild and out of control skidding (or worse). Some riders swear by them, but we just swear at them, and consequently sell very few.
#2. Ritchey Black are really good pads, predictable in both wet and dry, no squeal and long wearing. Price is their only drawback - we have tended to push the cheaper Shimano XT pads instead, but after checking out the stopping distances, we have been more into the Ritcheys.
#3. Koolstop Eagle II Black - our number 1 selling pad, because they are cheap and good - everyone likes them, they wear well and don’t squeal. The grey ones are exactly the same, but black looks more frotty.
#3-WET. Shimano XT. If the pads had been ranked for wet weather stopping distances (essentially more important here in Wellington), then Shimano XT would have been third. The cartridge pad replacement system is the business, and although they do wear faster than the Ritcheys, they are totally predictable in the wet, and a good all round pad.
* How come Aztecs are our second most popular pad when they don’t appear to work in the wet? 1) Roadies swear by them, so we sell heaps of the bolted ones (although the new Koolstop Eagle bolted pads will probably take over now). 2) They’ve been around for years and people still like them. 3) They get better when they are hot - on a long, dry, hot downhill they can be really good. 4) In the Velo News test, dirty water was sprayed continuously onto the rim, whereas in real riding conditions the pads dry the rim off when first applied, then start to work. Unless you were riding in deep water, the Aztecs would never really take 20 seconds to stop.
* Why do Ritchey make red pads? Maybe, like the Aztecs, the red Ritcheys work better in the real world than the stopping times would indicate, but we found them inferior to the black pads and have never bothered to stock them.
* What is the story with Winwood Polybrakes? They are made of urethene rather than rubber, and have absolutely scary dry weather stopping power (much more than the chart would indicate). Unfortunately, they squeal like a whole flock of stuck pigs, and grab violently, even when toed in outrageously. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but things just didn’t work out.
* How do the cheap Tektro, Raleigh and Giant pads that we sell heaps of compare with these performance pads? The cheap pads wear out at least twice as fast, and at a guess would probably show stopping times of about 3 secs dry and 18 secs wet.
What we recommend
Best pad - Ritchey Black Runner up - Shimano XT
Best value - Koolstop Eagle II Runner up - Shimano XT
Best advice - Brake hard and frot out... Runner up - Frot hard and brake out ...
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