13 Things I Loved In 2021: Brian Park

Dec 23, 2021
by Brian Park  



It's been a weird and (mostly) wonderful year for mountain bikes. To be honest, I don't feel great about the frenzied consumerism that makes these lists popular, but that makes me a massive, gear-loving hypocrite. So rather than just an "X products I loved" list, I've tried to balance the tech out with some of the other things I've been excited about this year.






King Cage Side Loader

1. King Cage Titanium Side Loader

Yep, leading this off with a bottle cage. It's non-stop rock-n-roll over here.

Durango-based King Cage sent up an early version of their new titanium side loader cage this summer, and I absolutely love it. The design allows you to choose left, right, or middle entry (my sample didn't have holes for middle mounting but they've been added for production). It doesn't load from quite as wide an angle as the ubiquitous Specialized Zee Cage, but it's close. It's also light, holds bottles well, looks great, and hasn't marked up my bottles. Being able to swap sides is especially great if you're moving it to your seat-tube on a bike with multiple cages (or a gr*vel bike).

Don't get me wrong, the Zee Cage is great, but compared to the carbon S-Works version the King Cage is $5 less expensive and only 5g heavier. I'm a fan of its adaptability and classic looks, so it's become my go-to cage. I should probably buy a couple more.

King Cage Side Loader
Easy access on the Madonna.
King Cage Side Loader
Allows for a full size bottle on an extra small Pivot Switchblade.

Details
• Mounts for left, right, or centre access
• Two mounting heights for good fit in most frames
• 3-2.5 Titanium tubing
• Doesn't mark up your bottles
• Weight: 33g
• Made in USA
• Price: $65 USD
• More info at kingcage.com and @ron_kingcage






2. Women's freeride having a moment

I absolutely love that women's freeride has blown up this year. Events like Formation and Darkhorse, and pioneers like Casey Brown and Vero Sandler have inspired a hell of a lot of people. Judging by the submissions we're getting to #pbwmn, it's clear the movement has reached a critical mass—rad people doing rad shit, encouraging other people to do rad shit, encouraging other people to do rad shit, and so on. I'm excited for us to work on a few women's freeride projects in 2022.

Vinny Armstrong hits the drop to step-up at Red Bull Formation in Virgin Utah USA on 31 May 2021
Vinny Armstrong by Re Wikstrom / Red Bull
Cami Noguira leads Vaea Verbeeck into the gap jump at Red Bull Formation in Virgin Utah USA on 27 May 2021
Cami Noguira & Vaea Verbeeck by Re Wikstrom / Red Bull





my dumb 3D prints

3. Matterhackers Pulse XE 3D printer

You didn't think I'd skip sneaking a 3D printing thing into this list, did you? I've had the Matterhackers Pulse XE for about a year, and I honestly can't imagine not having a 3D printer now. I've improved the cable routing on my RAAW, tried some long and narrow flat pedals, made a bike rack to carry my kid's Strider bike on my cargo bike, prototyped a shifter adapter, and way more. It's been amazing. All the engineers reading this are rolling their eyes, but I still have childlike wonder when I mess around on the computer, press a button, and then an actual thing just... exists. It's wild.

I'm obviously unqualified to judge a 3D printer and I have no idea how it compares to others, but the Pulse XE has been great. The learning curve was easy, the design is optimized for printing stronger materials like carbon-fibre NylonX out of the box, and the Matterhackers folks are super helpful. They're also mountain bikers so they humoured lots of my dumb questions. Thanks David!

If you're thinking about getting a printer, do it! Send me photos of all the weird shit you make, I'm a huge fan.

Raaw Madonna V2
Improved cable routing.
3D printed pedal
Ran out of filament on this one, so here's what a cross section of my pedal project looks like.

3D printed i-spec EV adapters
Some brake adapter prototypes that I eventually CNC machined. These were totally functional, but obviously weren't quite as strong as the CNCed version.

Details
• Based on the Prusa i3 FDM design
• Able to print abrasive filaments like NylonX (carbon fibre) or stainless steel out of the box
• Build Volume: 250 x 220 x 215 mm
• Layer Height: .03mm to .35 mm
• Auto print leveling w/ 25 point BLTouch sensor
• 24V heated bed with LayerLock Garolite build surface
• Bondtech BMG Extruder with E3D V6 HotEnd
• Made in USA using their own Ryno filament
• Price: $899 USD (for the one I have, but lots of cheaper options available too)
• More info at matterhackers.com





Pocket NC

4. Pocket NC V2-10 desktop 5-axis CNC machine

Yeah yeah, I'm a huge nerd. I set out to learn some CAD stuff last year, and that spiralled into 3D printing and then 5-axis CNC. The folks at Pocket NC were originally inspired by how 3D printing was making manufacturing so accessible, so they kickstarted a 5-axis desktop CNC machine business for everything from prototyping, to dental work, to education, and were kind enough to send a loaner to learn on.

Wrapping my pretendgineer brain around 5-axis CNC was exponentially more difficult than the 3D printing stuff, but it's massively rewarding too. So far I've only made a few small parts, but the most successful one was an adapter for Trickstuff brakes to a Shimano i-Spec EV shifter. I 3D printed a bunch of prototypes above, got the shifter to the right spot, and then broke my head with the 5-axis CAM process.

Typical 3-axis CNC machines go up and down, forward and back, and left and right, while 5-axis machines add rotating and tilting. Programming the right tool to remove the right amount of material from the right places with the right strategy from each angle of the part is not an easy thing for me to think about. Thankfully Cedric Eveleigh (of the Lal Bikes Supre Drive) is an actual engineer, and was kind enough to walk me through the basics. 6+ hours of machining later (it's a tiny machine) and I had an actual thing. And even more shocking, it works great.

As basic as what I've been able to make is, I'm super proud of it and I learned a lot. The Pocket NC is probably too small and light for production level bike parts, but it's an amazing introduction to 5-axis machining and capable of making lots of things—seat collars, adapters, derailleur hangers, flip chips, top caps, derailleur pulleys, etc. Cedric even used his to do a lot of the work on his prototype drivetrain. It seems like the kind of thing more engineers should have on their desks for trying things in the real world.
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For me personally it's really easy to forget about the manufacturing side of the industry. Parts for my bikes come out of boxes in stores, and I rarely think about all the steps that it took to get them there. It's been a big help for me to look at the parts we review and think more about their design choices from a production standpoint. I've got a lot to learn!

Trickstuff Piccola i-spec EV adapter
Once you factor in my time at minimum wage, I'm pretty sure this is the most expensive brake adapter ever produced.
Trickstuff Piccola i-spec EV adapter
But most shockingly of all, it works.

Pocket NC
Pocket NC

Pocket NC
This is where I go to hide from the comments.

Details
• 5 axis simultaneous movement
• Tiny machine footprint of 17.5" x 12.5"
• Capable of cutting delrin, aluminum, softer steels, and even G5 titanium
• Travel: 5" x 4.5" x 3.5" (realistically makes things under 3" cubed)
• Rotation: 25° to 135° (A) and continuous rotation (B)
• Accepts standard G-code
• Uses Pocket NC Simulator for simulating parts prior to cutting
• Spindle speed 2,000-10,000 RPM
• Recommended part tolerance ±0.005in (.127mm)
• Made in Belgrade, Montana
• Price: $6,300 USD
• More info at pocketnc.com





YT INDUSTRIES Ace Hayden on Vancouver Island British Columbia Canada

5. The model year dying a slow death

I loved seeing some brands keep it simple, stupid this year. The industry is facing a lot of challenges with product availability right now, but I'm glad to see a few of them react by further eroding the tradition model year cycle.

On one hand, it's nice to keep track of things with model years for things like reviews. We still say "2022 Transition Spire" when it's the new frame platform coming out late in the 2021 calendar year. On the other hand, not doing specific model years gets away from inflated margins to offset bikes being devalued when next year's colours arrive in shop, and brands can be more agile in updating specs. Less false closeouts, less forecasting issues, less... headaches in general.





Lake shoes

6. Lake MX241 shoes

I've got wide, high volume feet. I run flats on the big bike and have some good options there, but for my XC bikes I've struggled to find comfortable clip-in shoes. I've tried wide versions from most of the brands out there that offer them, with varying degrees of success.

The Lake MX241 endurance wides have all but solved my issues. Having two separate BOAs to dial in forefoot and ankle tension independently is great. They feel super secure and the last fits me well, even without heat moulding the heel.

Some might not be too excited about their ~800g weight, but that's a small price to pay for comfort. My only real complaint is the cleat position could be slightly further back on the shoe, but I'll solve that with a dremel sometime.

I'm a big fan of being comfortable so I love these shoes. Highly recommended for anyone with EEEE feet looking for an XC/trail shoe, and I'm betting their regular width one is great for people with hard to fit feet as well.

Lake shoes
Two BOAs per shoe keeps things super secure.
Lake shoes
Heat mouldable heel cup that I didn't need to adjust.

Details
• MX Competition Last features a larger toe box & tighter heel with slightly more overall volume
• Lake Race 100% Carbon Fiber outsole with Mountain Race X Real rubber sole
• Helcor abrasion resistant leather upper, with full grain leather, and Nufoam lining
• Heat moldable carbon heel counter
• Dual side mounted push/pull IP1 BOA lacing system with releasable lace guides
• Sizes 38, 39–47 in half sizes, 48–50
• Price: $380 USD
• More info at lakecycling.com





Hotronic Boot Dryer
Sticking with the footwear theme.

7. Boot dryers

Pretty much just self-important hairdryers, but damn if a boot dryer hasn't been a revelation this year. I got this Hotronic Tech Dry boot dryer last year and it's been amazing. The obvious part is that it dries your shoes after wet (or sweaty) rides. It's also quiet, goes up to 70 °C, has auto start and stop functions, and an overtemp switch off so I don't burn my garage down.

If there was any question about Pinkbike employees being so soft we break the Mohs scale, this should answer it. This winter I've started putting my cold riding shoes on the boot dryer before my rides too, while I prep my bike etc. Laugh all you want, I'm shopworn and will take small comforts where I can.






8. Brage Vestavik


Yep.





AirTag mount

9. Zéfal Magnum Pro 975ml bottle


Two hydration-related things on this list? I know, my life is very exciting.

There are a lot of rides that don't need two bottles, and a lot of bikes that can't carry both of them anyway. I am a big fan of Specialized Purist bottles, but they top out at 26oz (765ml) so I picked up a few others. So I've been on a quest for a good large bottle this year.

The Elite Fly Elite (not a typo, just a confusing name) holds 950ml of water and is ultralight at ~69g, but deforms too much and has an annoying drinking valve. It also doesn't fit as securely into some cages—I think it'd be a lot more home on road and gravel bikes.

The Zéfal Magnum Pro is even larger at 975ml, sits securely in all of my cages and has a great valve. It's a little heavier at 120g, but it feels more like a normal bottle and has great uhhh squidge-ability? Also, unlike the huge 1125ml Soma Further bottle it doesn't feel like two regular bottles taped together and still fits into a lot of frames.
Elite Fly Elite 950 bottle
Elite's Fly Elite 950 is a good lightweight option as well.

The only major downside I can see to the Magnum Pro is that it doesn't seem to be readily available in North America. Anyone have a source?

Zefal Magnum Pro
Fits well in my cages.
Zefal Magnum Pro
Any excuse to write squidge-ability again.

Details
• High 975ml capacity
• Double-closure system for watertightness
• Compatible with most bottle cages (they recommend using open cages rather than closed ones)
• Odourless, BPA-free polypropylene
• Dishwasher safe
• 270 mm tall (measure to see if it'll fit in your frame)
• 120g
• Made in France.
• Price: 8,40 € if you can find them
• More info at zefal.com





Slim Donut Solaris CoticMAX
You're looking at a dropper post.

10. Vecnum Nivo dropper post

Seb Stott already wrote about this one in his list, so go read that. I'll just add that mine has been trouble free for over a year as well, I love having full drop even as a short guy, and it's the lightest long-travel dropper by a long shot. More info at vecnum.com.

Slim Donut Solaris CoticMAX
There's something slick about a dropper that you can adjust flush with your seat tube.





Raaw Madonna V2
Going into year three now.

11. Keeping the same bike next year

Raaw announced a new, refined Madonna V2.2 this year, so my 2.0 is practically garbage now. Despite the indignity of having a bike that's a couple years old, I'm keeping it. Since my bike check last year I've replaced a few things (another set of Magic Marys, an EXT shock to try out, North Shore Billet Daemon pedals, and a new set of Trickstuff brake pads), but I'm blown away every time I ride it.

Lack of availability is frustrating right now for so many people, so having the bike I want and not coveting any upgrades is an amazing, privileged feeling.





Dumonde Tech Original Lite
So good.

12. Dumonde Tech Original chain lube

I couldn't take a photo for this one because I don't have any left. Dumonde Tech's Original chain lube isn't readily available in Canada and I haven't left BC much this year, so I ran out last month. I'm a huge fan of the Original Lite in the summer and the Original in the winter. I've used pretty much everything over the years and am definitely on team Dumonde Tech.

It can't be shipped anywhere because of the VOCs, and I assume that the low-VOC Pro X versions they sell in Canada don't work as well. I'm sure the Pro X versions work well, it's just the psychology working on me—whether it's mosquito spray or chain lube, the more warnings something has the better it tends to work.

To be clear I'm 100% definitely not suggesting anyone smuggle some Original formula up for me. That would be wrong.

Details
• Forms a low-friction plating
• Bonds to chain and can’t be washed off
• Components stay cleaner, last longer, and run quieter
• Designed to be applied sparingly
• Price: $20 (4oz)
• More info at dumondetech.com





The thick forest here in West Virgina may look peaceful but today it was anything but as racfers battled it out for World Cup titles
There's a long ways to go.

13. The bike industry finally having a bit of environmental self awareness

The irony of lauding chain lube and then highlighting the bike industry's 'hubristic self-congratulation' (as Henry would say) of environmentalism... I accept that mountain biking plays only the most infinitely small part in our world's problems, but it's still nice to see brands beginning to take environmental initiatives seriously.

I don't care whether anyone's motives are pure either—whether brands are being more environmentally conscious because consumers demand it, they have deeply held beliefs themselves, or just less packaging saves money. I'm sure it's a bit of column A and a bit of column B. The important thing to me is that people are thinking about it. As consumers it's important to vote with our wallets, and for those who feel strongly about it to keep the pressure on.

There's a long ways to go, and it's easy to be cynical with so many problems facing us... but I appreciate the work that's been started and I think that's worth saying.





Update: also @Jimmy0.


176 Comments

  • 174 1
 I'm not on anyones Things I Loved list. Weird
  • 178 0
 You are now.
  • 20 0
 I am reading this in the saddest way possible.
  • 10 3
 It's not for me, but apparently "Jesus loves everyone"
If he has a list though, red flag for sure.
  • 8 8
 @Waldon83: That's why Santa > Jesus.
  • 1 0
 @acali: 'He knows when you're awake'

@krka73: I hear chasing it with bleach virtually eliminates chain stretch
  • 1 0
 Top of my list, Jimbo
  • 1 0
 because sometimes we just don't deserve it
  • 1 0
 You ought to check mine jimmy! You're near the top, bro
  • 1 0
 Everyone' here likely could/should have "people who build iconic trails with hand tools",, which is right up there on your resume
  • 4 0
 @brianpark: seriously, best of the favorites so far. well thought out, a little humblebrag (which is great!) , def some bling, and a touch of self aware , human self contradiction . I loved it. Happy Holidays!
  • 2 0
 What @tadgercat said. This is best-in-class list. Great effort Brian and thanks for sharing.
  • 57 1
 Best Pinker end of year list. So sick. Brage... YEP.
  • 36 0
 "Keeping the same bike next year"

Good on ya, bikes are too good to only keep for a few seasons. I'm still on my 2013 Stumpjumper Evo, am starting to think about replacing it, but would really like a full decade of riding it. Having ridden the same bike for so long makes it easy to justify a big budget for the next ride.
  • 11 0
 It's a nice feeling, right? Hold onto something, keep it in good condition, learn all its quirks, then when it's time for a replacement you've saved enough to go all-in on something that will last another 5+ years.
  • 2 0
 That's awesome. Hope you can make it the full decade.
  • 1 0
 @TEAM-ROBOT: Kept my previous steel hardtail frame for a decade. I'm pretty sure I'm keeping this one for at least two decades.
  • 6 0
 @riish: Another plus is that when you find a frame you love like that and keep it 5+ years, the resale value is low enough compared to the sentimental value that, at least for me, it's easy to justify keeping the frame to hang on the wall to remind me of all the great memories.
  • 3 0
 You're so close now, it'd be a shame not to.
My MTBs are all 2018 models I believe, but the geometry is contemporary enough (after a bit of tweaking) that I don't NEED to change them - and I wouldn't be surprised if I were still riding one of them in 2028.
  • 4 0
 @chakaping: Honestly, big industry has some serious work to make any rational person froth for a 22' if they have a well sorted 18'. They got it right finally in 2017/18. alleliuea
  • 38 4
 If there was a list of lists, this would be on top! Amazing, I like the balance of gerheaded nerdness with social and environmental topics. Thanks for sharing!
  • 6 1
 Honestly expected to be annoyed by this list, but it was quite well done. Interesting and informative. Good stuff.
  • 11 0
 Regarding environmental impact, I was shopping for Isopropanol and went for the 10L canister as opposed to repurchasing a six pack of 1L bottles. Saved me 90 cents, got a lot less waste to dispose of and 4L more of the stuff.
  • 5 0
 I bought the 5L Muc Off professional use only chain cleaner because it comes in a steel can which can be re used or recycled. I fill a small reusable sprayer I’ve had for ten years with it.

They shipped it to me in a huge plastic bag in case it leaked.
  • 1 0
 I had leftover Propanol / De-I mix from work that I use to clean my chain after it gets washed with ivory–! think Mr H Quinney mentioned he uses it.
  • 3 0
 I got myself 50kg of coke…should save a couple of trips out
  • 13 0
 I have one of those zefal magnum bottles, got it on amazon, took a while to get here but its great!
  • 1 0
 I had one 15 or so years ago. Kind of surprised to see it still exists.

Completely different model but I remember it being a terrible experience - my bottle cages couldn't hold it in and the bite valve was bad.

Kind of intrigued to give it ago now that it has a modern bite valve and bottle cages have improved from the $4 alloy Walmart ones I put up with in high school.
  • 6 0
 Hey @brian would love some article on 3d printing/cncing for hobbyists. Make pick some of your fav open source mtb related stls to highlight?

Also if you have contacts at lake please ask for a extra wide enduro shoe. Im dying over here.
  • 9 0
 More on that Cotic please. Slick looking hardtail.
  • 14 0
 The Slim Donut has an angleset and a 120mm fork that ends up with a ~62.5° HTA. It's got some scarier tires and lighter brakes on it now, sitting around 24lb with pedals. I really like a short travel downcountry hardtail, and I'm just trying a few geometry ideas out with this bike before I commit to a custom frame.
  • 2 0
 @brianpark: Sounds good and looks good. 24 pounds and that geo is fast and fun, I bet.
  • 3 0
 @AndrewFleming: A friend has one and absolutely loves it; he's got it long-forked at 130mm (I have a Pipedream Sirius S5 and it's an absolute blast but quite a bit heavier at 28lbs, and that's set up SS).
  • 2 0
 @dolface: Long forking for down country gets my up vote as long as it doesn't go sideways or I get short changed. Ya know.
  • 2 0
 @brianpark: Wow 24lbs!!? My Nimble 9 with decent spec and carbon wheels is 28.5... I almost bought a Cotic Solaris Maxx before I pulled the trigger on my my Canfield.
  • 3 0
 @Lewis73: it probably should be ~22lb with the parts I have on there, but the frame is so versatile it's built a little heavier than my intentions. Super fun bike though!
  • 1 0
 @brianpark:I am wondering how you like yours? I have the same frame and size with their Super Nova (Orange) color with 140mm Pike and 27.5 Plus tires and is my best bike to date after almost 20 years in MTB ing. Mine is 27.2 lbs with pedals.
Merry Christmas.
  • 5 0
 Congratulations Brian, you just made me purchase a printer from matterhackers.com.

Now please give me your personal phone number, so you can explain to my wife why a 3D printer is necessary, will you?
  • 4 0
 Keeping the same bikes! Yes, definitely. Pretty happy with the quiver and will be for some time. The list kind of has more of the DIY vibe to it with some of the products, ideas, and riders. This is my favorite one of these so far.
  • 6 0
 That bottle of makers mark is almost gone! One of my favorite things in 2021!
  • 3 0
 I've been really enjoying that Kaiyo these days.
  • 4 0
 Look, if we are making recommendations here; Eigashima Blended - Sherry Cask Finish - from White Oak Distillery in Japan at 50%.
Very hard to get a bottle of, but the price is right and dear lord it's an incredible blend, much like Hibiki Harmony.

Or Backwoods distillery in Yakandandah - Vic. If you can get a bottle of the Rye, it's like drinking whisky flavored Cadbury milk chocolate at 46%
  • 8 0
 @Waldon83: That last bit sounds horrible, admittedly.
  • 1 0
 @sherbet: reading it back, it does sound bad, but it’s actually incredible. Just a long chocolate finish. They did use chocolate malts though so
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: I've not tried the Kaiyo..will be next!
  • 2 0
 @brianpark: I like your style Mr Park. Merry Christmas
  • 5 0
 Does Pocket NC accept payment in gr*vel bikes?
But seriously would love to have one of these! Another awesome company from Belgrade.
  • 4 1
 Would love to have that 3D Printer but another $400USD for a 32-bit? Cripes, you'd think with every OS having 64-bit architecture that everything including drivers would be at least 32-bit. Crazy to see 8-bit operation still in this day and age. The company should throw in the 32-bit board, not as an upgrade, but as a standard package for that $900USD price tag considering Prusa and Creality 3D printers have been around for quite some time and are getting better and more affordable every year.
  • 4 0
 you do realize the prusa i3 still using an 8-bit einsy board?

controller boards are not the same thing as general purpose computers. don't get me wrong, i am frothing at the mouth waiting for a 32-bit upgrade for my i3, to the point i've considered going to an aftermarket solution, but it's far from insane for a $400 printer to save a bit of cash on the controller board.
  • 1 0
 @groghunter: Definitely agreed. The only real advantages of 64-bit over 8/32-bit is the overkill amount of memory space available, and an increase in precision (this is dependent on so many other factors as well, not just on whether the computer is capable of such precision, but whether you have the granularity of control on the manufacturing components to even be able to use such precision). On the first point, to date, I don't think I've seen a hobby grade project really need that level of precision anyways (if my back of the napkin floating point math is correct anyway). Any performance gain to bandwidth and the like are likely moot points, as the bottleneck is the physical fabrication, not the computer itself.
  • 1 0
 @CMAT17: There's actually one other advantage you're missing, and it happens to be one of the most important to me:

being able to send prints to the printer directly via wifi, instead of using a separate octopi server that's forcefeeding code on the USB bus, which affects program complexity. With the enisy, I have to choose between print resolution (round things are round-ish sometimes) or having to fery prints to the printer on a SD card. convenience usually wins, and the resolution errors generally only become visible in large prints. but it would be real nice not to have to choose.
  • 2 0
 @groghunter: I definitely thought I was missing something in my post, so thanks for setting the record straight! I will confess that my job is mostly only on the chip architecture design end, and not anything on the software/application/actually-using-the-thing-in-a-system side, so forgive my ignorance. I honestly should have caught that 8-bit is quite poor for a lot of practical usage modes, so that is honestly an embarrassing mea culpa.
  • 7 3
 Hell of a list Brian
* Women's Freeride movement deserves a nod for sure, I hope it continues to grow!
* King Cages (I have one on my HT and it works/looks perfect)
* 3D printing AND a mini CNC? Fricken cool!
  • 3 0
 About a year ago I made a 3D printed bicycle model. My first try, so very limited. But a month ago I finished my second bike model, this time Giant Trance 1: 4. My biggest project so far. The total time of the realization is about 1000 hours.
Please, have a look www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EO8cwi9hGQ
  • 1 0
 What!? That’s ridiculous. Nice work!
  • 1 0
 Awesome job!!
  • 2 0
 Elite’s Jet Bottle is offered in 950ml, has a more standard construction for those that find the Fly too soft, and has an MTB option with a valve cover.
Uses the same valve as the Fly, but it’s my preferred type - better flow rate, less fiddly than some to use, and really easy to clean.
  • 3 0
 Interesting. I don't love valve covers on my bottles, and I didn't get along with the Fly valve, but the Jet looks a lot better for MTB. Any issues with the "biodegradable" material?
  • 4 0
 @brianpark: If you like those 1 L bottles, you'll love ⌀3.5" bottles (ex. Nalgene). 60% more cross-sectional area, more secure than a longer bottle, will fit your Cotic and Raaw, and easier to design a bike around than a longer bottle. Only two cages, currently, and a lack of low-profile tops with valves, so maybe this is a job for your 3D printer. Try an off-centre valve (picture a sippy cup) if space is tight.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: No - feels and performs like standard bottle material. Have heard complaints that it’s biodegradable claims are a little optimistic…
Not a fan of valve covers either, but some like them.
  • 2 0
 @R-M-R: oh neat, I didn't realize Nalgene does an "ATB" bottle with a normal valve for oversized cages. Just bought a couple.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: I have both the Zefal Magnum and Elite Fly and agree with your comments regarding the Fly being a bit too squishy. If you do want to run the Elite Fly, it stays super secure (almost vice like) in a King Iris Cage, which has a lot more cage tension (as it's designed for clamping non-traditional bike bottles).
  • 1 0
 @R-M-R: Thanks for the tip! Gonna pick up a few of these as well. Planning to throw one of them under the downtube in an Arundel Looney Bin as a second bottle for big pedally days on my enduro bike.
  • 1 0
 Canyon Eject System. Two bottles in a lower profile to suit frames with limited clearance. Long rides fill both bottles with water, short rides put pump, levers and repair kit in a zip bag and in one of the bottles.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: did you see the valve cover for the fitlock bottles?
I could open them with my thumb on the hand I grabbed the bottle with. Every bottle should have this cover. It's so essentially where I am riding.. normal valve's are shit even without a cover compared to this.
  • 1 0
 @lennskii: I quite like the Elite Fly and the Zee cage holds on to it fine. Bought it for the valve cover, which is super-useful for the UK mud & sheep shit.
  • 1 0
 @R-M-R: Great idea. Do you know of any side load cages that will fit these 3.5" bottles? I couldn't find any online.
  • 2 0
 @haen: No, I'm familiar with only the Widefoot and Velo Orange cages.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: I'm glad Nalgene's On The Fly top exists, but it takes up a lot of space. The Wide Mouth is the ticket for getting 1 - 1.5 L bottles inside the front triangle. Someone needs to make a similar lid with a low-profile valve.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark stick to Dumonde Tech Original, the Pro X chain lube is double the price and inferior in terms of wear (chain stretch). I wouldn't know or care about possible watts saved though...

However, Dumonde Tech Pro X Liquid Grease is great for those outer bearings in XD freehubs. It's basically impossible to re-grease those. But you can pop the seal off, clean it and get that liquid grease in there pretty easy. Works great!
  • 1 0
 I feel like the model year going is particularly useful for increasing the price of a new bike whenever the manufacturer feels like it.

*Press release *
We are now shipping our enduro bike with upgraded brake pads.

*small print *
Price now $500 more expensive.
  • 5 0
 I suspect most brands adjust their prices whenever they have to (or think the market will bear it) anyway.
  • 3 0
 Ok, Like the boot warmers but I'm a little concerned on whats on the other side of that door. King Kong coming or did he enter and leave with a 3d printer
  • 2 0
 The mean streets of East Van.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: OMG! You live in a vault? Thanks for reminding me to be grateful for living a sheltered life. Wink And your best-of list was an enjoyable read.
  • 1 0
 I might have to check out that water bottle cage. I use a wolf tooth morse cage and it won't fit on my bike (size S). If the king cage saves a few mm maybe it could fit...

Is the vecnum more compact than other droppers or just reliable? Seb Stott noted it because it is 212 mm but as you said you're short that wouldn't apply to you necessarily.
  • 2 0
 I don't think it's as compact as the OneUp post, but it's decent. It was only BARELY short enough for me with the size M Madonna (I had to run it at like 200mm or something). I'm running it ~208 or so on the Cotic (also M) and have room to adjust either way for different cranks/saddles/etc. and still keep it flush with the seat tube.

I think long droppers are worth it for short people too! We have less leg travel so we need all the help we can get.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: cool. I got a fox 150mm and it is exactly the right height at maximum insertion. I didn't need to buy shorter cranks which was good.

208 mm sounds like a trials bike to me! Impressive!
  • 1 1
 @brianpark: right on! I’d also note that OneUps tend to bind if you actually use them at maximum insertion. Especially on steel frames (like my Torrent).

Any issues with this one binding?
  • 1 0
 @brianpark, Have you ever heard of Mosaic Manufacturing? www.mosaicmfg.com

Great piece of kit that allows you to print in up to 8 colours and multiple materials at once. I highly recommend checking them out. It completely changed the 3d printing game for me. (I have a Prusa mk3s)
  • 1 0
 Dumonde! yeeessss! that stuff rocks! A bike mechanic (thanks Chuck!) turned me onto that stuff back in Fall 2016 when I bought a new bike, the bottle of original formula is just about gone so I'll be hunting down a new bottle. The lite formula works well too, and I have purchased it at REI.
  • 1 0
 #5 and #13! I love the shift away from the model year, especially in a world when most companies can't deliver a single thing on time. My shop has received several "2021" bikes within the last month. The fewer people who see them as "old" even though they were just in a box the better. As for the last one, I always wondered why the bike industry literally does nothing while the rest of the outdoor industry at least pretends to care. It's nice to see that changing.
  • 1 0
 I really like the "keeping the same bike" and breathing some new life into it mantra. I was on the same steed for 10 years and in 2020 picked up two new modern whips (long legged FS 29er and an aggro hardtail). Couldn't be happier, but of course you see 18 months later all of the new stuff, but the differences are 0.5 degrees here and 2mm there. Time to buckle up and enjoy what I have and get to know it over a series of years and know there are upgrades like anglesets, longer droppers and such that I can tweak the feel with, without "keeping up with the Joneses" which is so easy to do in today's Tic Tock world.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark @seb-stott could y'all comment more about how that Vecnum 'feels'?

I've got a bike yoke 213 that I picked up after two OneUps failed in the same week, and actually found that I *love* the way the thing feels to use, the solid thunk at the top, general lack of slop, good feedback in the lever, etc.

Now have the oneup 210 on my new dc bike, but wouldn't mind to drop some weight if it also feels better than the oneup. By comparison the oneup feels a bit mushier in the lever, occasionally rattles at half drop, besides general fear of another cartridge failure.

Hard to find info on the Vecnum but y'all have me curious
  • 1 0
 The Vecnum feels a bit more mechanical. Not as smooth, but maybe a bit more positive? For a weight-conscious DC bike that would benefit from a full length dropper it's probably the best option out there right now.
  • 2 2
 You’re getting paid far too much if you have splurged on a pocket NC.
But seriously, how tricky does work holding get with five axis?

We have about 15 DMG Mori machines at work, and a few Trumpf laser machines. Laser AM is amazing. Next year we are getting a gigantic 12m x 4m F.Zimmerman 5 axis cnc machine installed. We had to build a new building for it. We literally have a container of tooling board due soon to put through it.
  • 1 0
 Also it’s a VERY brave man to attempt to ride on pedals printed like that. They wouldn’t make it 5m with me.
  • 2 0
 Link to mega cnc we are getting at work.
www.f-zimmermann.com/us/gantry-machines/fzp37
  • 4 0
 It's a loaner they were kind enough to send up. I'll be sad when I have to ship it back. Five axis workholding hurts my brain for sure. I also really struggle these days with a toddler and a job to get more than an hour or two in a row for focusing on this stuff, so every time I come back to a project I've got to spend a bunch of time figuring out where I left off. Also those 3D printed pedals have been great. The NylonX is a pretty strong material. I broke the first set with a hammer, changed the print orientation, and the second set has survived a bunch of hard rides without issues. Actually that reminds me I should swap them back onto the hardtail for the winter.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: that is awesome. It’s a neat machine. I wanted one for a while but realised I can borrow machine time at work so long as my piece is tooled up identically to what we’re making. I can just let it run with the automatic pallet changers.

We use nylonx and abs at work for the enclosures of my antennas. I still wouldn’t get five meters down the road. Now using sla to print it in titanium, that’s something that would be rad.
  • 2 0
 @Afterschoolsports: I have some ti filament from Element22 I'm going to try soon. It's a lot more involved though—printing scaled and then having to send it off to Germany for debinding and sintering.
  • 2 0
 @brianpark: what a pita. 3d printing is great but there is a point that it’s not the best option for manufacturing. There is a lot of chasing diminishing returns in the industry when subtractive manufacturing, direct deposit, or SLA is a much more practical option. We use carbon filament sometimes. It’s alright but not really worth the cost over other filament. Most of what we print is stuff to validate fit mechanically with the other mechanical systems in our integration work.

I see desktop SLA as the next big thing. There isn’t much to SLA that can’t be achieved with affordable technology. Having an alternative atmosphere is challenging but you can use cheap welding gas for some metal stock.
  • 1 0
 Brian, I'd love to get into making things with a 3d printer and CNC machine. How much knowledge is required when entering that space? Was it easy for you to learn on your own?
  • 3 0
 3D printing is way easier than I expected, I have zero experience with design, engineering, or CAD. Honestly just dive in and watch a bunch of YouTube videos. On the design side maybe start with TinkerCAD and then upgrade to Fusion 360 once you get the hang of it conceptually. And the cheaper printers are apparently pretty good too, so you don't have to break the bank. I am finding CNC harder, you have to think a lot more about each strategy, and there are more design limitations.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: that's the difference between additive and subtractive manufacturing! But it's pretty amazing how a good tool and die maker has to think to manufacture something
  • 3 0
 This was great, the cnc machine is very interesting and you summed up brage vestavik perfectly
  • 4 0
 @brianpark has made me 3d-printing curious...
  • 1 1
 This guy wasn't too happy about the chain lube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbFNrnQ4QUo&t=5s

Edit: Since link doesn't work. just search for "Best bike chain lube" on youtube and it's the video by Simply Mountain Biking. Pretty interesting test.
  • 1 0
 Good and interesting list @brianpark. CNC's (and manual milling machines or lathes) are reasonably inexpensive initial $$$ outlay. But the tooling ... that ends up adding significant cost.
  • 2 0
 @brianpark you already know, but engineers are NOT rolling their eyes at your 3D printer set up. It's awesome! The CNC has me envious
  • 1 0
 +1 for the vecnum nivo. I put a year on the 212 with no issues, Very light actuation, lightweight, durable, works the same in freezing temps.

Totally agree about that dumontec lube too
  • 3 0
 Can you 3D print the last bunch of podcasts into my iPhone?
  • 2 0
 Brian step up to a formlabs to match that CNC quality and also have the ability to do castings
  • 2 0
 I give it two years tops before @brianpark is making his own bikes with CNC and 3D printed parts.
  • 1 0
 Is Vecnum's grand master marketing plan not selling droppers?
One bike in the PB classified has one.
None on ebay.
Google search wants me to translate the info.
  • 1 0
 shop.vecnum.com/gb

This should work. I own a moveloc 2 (bought one after my old man used one for over a year without breaking it) both of them are still running strong.

Vecnum makes great droppers.
  • 3 1
 Looks like they are only offered in 30.9....that's a big fail for me.

Not a fan of shimming posts, especially for long droppers. That just begs for frame damage ie Specialized Enduro which shipped with shims they year they came out...and had a rash of seat tubes cracking. Frown
  • 2 0
 Wow your Madonna looks frickin sick @brianpark. I'm still rocking my 2017 Banshee Prime but I'm drooling for your bike now.
  • 3 0
 Brage is who all grown men wish they could be when they grow up.
  • 3 0
 I want to be @brianpark when I grow up!
  • 1 0
 I've ordered Galfer rotors from these guys before, if you still need a source for the bottle.

www.bikeinn.com/bike/zefal-magnum-975ml-water-bottle/137816700/p
  • 3 0
 "Frick chores"??? are you based in Utah?
  • 5 4
 Companies that produce human assist electronic off-road mopeds pushing 60lb have a long way to go before they can claim any environmental awareness.
  • 6 0
 Context is important though. I bought an electric cargo bike instead of a second car this year. And I know a few folks who have gotten off motos and onto eMTBs. And people who stopped shuttling or driving to the trails when they bought eMTBs. eMTBs aren't really for me, but I don't think they deserve blanket environmental scorn either.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: maybe I'm jaded due to the horrific failure rate from batteries and motors. When I see so many dead batteries on brand new bikes, the idea of these things being in any way environmentally friendly smarts a bit. And none of this stuff gets fixed. Just replaced, resulting in a load of waste. Hopefully in 5 years time things will be better.
  • 1 0
 @wallheater: what are shops doing with these new DOA batteries? A keen DIY person can harvest the good cells or just replace the minimal faulty cells. I can see how bro who just dropped 15K on his new bike doesn't want a home soldering job on his new bike.
  • 4 0
 @shirk-007: the ones that I am aware of get sent back to the distributor. I don't know what happens to them then . It would be interesting to know. Maybe Pinkbike would like to like to do a more in depth look into the life cycles of E bike components and what happens to them when they are faulty.
  • 1 0
 @wallheater: Please do consider this @brianpark - we hear a lot about e-bike failures and brands offering good warranties to reassure consumers in that regard, but WTF happens to all the broken bits?
  • 2 0
 @chakaping: great idea, we'll do some digging in the new year.
  • 2 0
 i love the fact that theres a bottle of bourbon next to your cnc machine.... haha
  • 3 0
 My favourite list so far,great work on the engineering side Brian!
  • 2 0
 Dumond Tech Pro X is junk compared to the original. It is worth it to track down the stinky stuff and buy a bunch.
  • 1 0
 Agreed: It smells funky but it works.
  • 1 0
 “ This is where I go to hide from the comments.”

My hiding place is in the garage with my dogs, work bench and lots of tools Smile
  • 2 0
 Any recommendations for clipless shoes that don't have Cinderella toe boxes? Something more like an Altra?
  • 1 0
 Lake has wider widths for XC shoes. I like the ones with two boas to accommodate my annoyingly high instep.
  • 1 0
 +1 on the "drop the model year" movement. Instead bring in more frame colors per build spec! Sometimes the build kit you want is in the barfiest of colors.
  • 1 0
 I'm late to the game on the Brage train but damn. I really want to see a Rocky IV style training montage mashing up the video above with one of the Semenuk Raw series.
  • 2 0
 Good list, but then I am a sucker for anyone building their own bits in the garage.
  • 2 0
 Big fan of these products thanks for promoting them! I love it when others rep the things I like!
  • 2 0
 As a fellow nerd and Brage fan, I congratulate you on an awesome list @brianpark !!
  • 1 0
 @brianpark The Zefal Magnum is carried by Hawley Lambert cycling (HLC) in Canada, so most LBS should be able to order it easily if they don't stock it.
  • 1 0
 Interesting. The Magnum Pro or just the Magnum?
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: actually had to double check cause I didn't knew there is 2 version. HLC carry currently only the regular magnum.
  • 2 0
 #11. Agreed. My 2017 Kona Process 111 is not going anywhere for the foreseeable future.
  • 2 3
 On the topic of environmentally friendly:

1.) 3D Printing creates more plastic waste, and our ecosystems are filling to the brim with it...
2.) The chain lube is definitely not environmentally friendly, despite the company's claims. I am not a chemist, but per the MSDS, the ester is distributing the polymer on the chain, but what is in the "proprietary formula"? PFAS?
  • 3 0
 Yeah, this list was cool. Some machinery and Brage! Happy holidays!
  • 1 0
 I forwarded your list to people that may get me a gift… noted doesn’t have to be at Christmas. Any time next year is fine.

Great list!
  • 2 0
 Hey, Big Foot Brian! What flat pedal shoes are you using? Struggling since 5.10 dropped the Vxi
  • 1 0
 I've ditched my 5.10 Freeriders in favour of Ride Concepts Vice mids, but I am also wondering what Brian is running for flat shoes.
  • 1 0
 I haven't struggled as much with laced flat shoes, probably because a lot of my issues are from a high volume instep. I have some Freerider Pros that have worn in to where they're super comfortable. I get a bit more volume by running a thinner insole as well (I've got to double check, I think I just trimmed some NB ones to fit).
  • 2 0
 I didn't know that CNC machine existed and now I can't stop thinking about it. Thanks for the nerd out time Brian!
  • 1 0
 The real selling point with dumonde is in the huffing of heady voc aroma during the lengthy, surgical application procedure. One chain and you’re hooked
  • 3 1
 Loving my Cotic SolarisMax. definitely will have it for a while
  • 2 0
 And @mikelevy gets all the credit for wanting water bottle cage mounts...
  • 1 0
 Gotta ask, you have 2 bicycle shots. one on the sidewalk and one on grass. whats the trick to keeping them up?
Photoshop?
  • 2 0
 someone else holds the bike, you count down, they let go, you press the shutter, and then they catch it before it falls over.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: Nice. Thanks for sharing
  • 4 0
 @brianpark: And this is why you guys (and gals) make the big bucks.
  • 1 0
 Hey Brian, you could do an article simply asking us, "What's your favorite product purchased in 2021?".
  • 1 0
 I, too, am looking forward to riding my Madonna for another year. Having zero interest in a new bike is a nice feeling.
  • 1 0
 I really don't understand how someone can be excited about bottle cages when there's stuff like the Fidlock on the market.
  • 2 0
 Great List! Be awesome to see a bike check on that Cotic Solaris Max!
  • 2 0
 Such an appropriate brand of bourbon to put next to a CNC machine!!! Big Grin
  • 1 0
 thats a nice bike, could make the list next year again
  • 2 2
 You know boot dryers have been around for decades right??

Waaaay more important for ski boot liners.
  • 1 0
 All hail the cyclo-benzene ring!
  • 1 0
 Vencnum told me they wouldn't sell me a post since I'm in the USA.
  • 1 0
 B -
How do the cable clips attach to the frame pivot? Cool idea!
  • 2 0
 It's like a bar plug you flex into place. Holds really well. www.dropbox.com/s/pekge1vdnw1wh80/Raaw%20Madonna%20V2%20Main%20Pivot%20Cable%20Guide.stl?dl=0 should give you a better idea of how it works.
  • 1 0
 You hit all the talking points! Congrats.
  • 1 0
 I would have to add another printer to the list...for printing money!
  • 1 0
 I wish the Dumonde stuff didn't smell like death
  • 1 0
 What program are you using for your designs? Solid Works?
  • 2 0
 Fusion 360.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: cool. Thanks for that.
  • 1 0
 Veronique! She absolutely rips!
  • 1 0
 E-wings cranks on all your bikes didn’t make the list?
  • 1 0
 Number 8 was my favorite
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