Dirt Rag Magazine

Andrew Crumpler

Andrew Crumpler

What do you think about when you're riding your bike?

It's amazing how heavy a 2-year old boy feels like when towed uphill.

How would you rate your coffee consumption on a scale of 8-10?

I hail from Old Blighty, so I'm a tea drinker. I wish I could turn on my kitchen tap and have hot tea pour out of it.

Complete this sentence: "My other bike is …"


What are you eating, drinking, reading, or fearing these days?

Everything and nothing. It all goes in one end and out the other.

Elvis or the Beatles?

The Beatles

Say something profound and meaningful in exactly seven words…

And we sat in the korova milkbar

I like your answers. How can I get in touch with you?

Email me

2010 Mountain Bike Hall Of Fame Inductees

The names of the 2010 Mountain Bike Hall of Fame inductees have just been released. The Folks selected for the class of 2010 are; Alan Bonds, Jim Wannamaker, John Ker, and “The Fro Riders”, Brett Tippie, Richey Schley, and Wade Simmons.

Alan Bonds, an integral part of the early Marin County fat-tire scene and former roommate of Gary Fisher and Charlie Kelly, Jim Wannamaker, AKA “Kenda Jim”, a knowledgeable, likeable, hard working ambassador for mountain biking and rider/racer support, John Ker, the legendary photographer for Mountain Bike Action, has been a staff photgrapher since the magazines inception, “The Fro Riders“, Wade Simmons, Richey Schley and Brett Tippie, pioneers of the free-riding movement.

The Inductees will be welcomed into the MTB Hall of Fame on Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010. The Ceremony will take place during the Interbike Show in Las Vegas.  All Interbike attendees as well as the public are welcome. Mark your calenders now!

For more information on the MTB Hall of Fame head over to:                     www.mtnbikehalloffame.com

Anatomy of a Crash

After a good 14 years of mountain biking, I finally earned my wings on a perfect summer day. The car was packed, and I was ready for the thrill of downhill riding at Seven Springs Mountain. As I pulled onto the interstate, I could hear my phone ringing. It was my wife, Maggie. Thinking I forgot something, I quickly picked up the phone. “I forgot to tell you to be careful out there. Don’t forget how much work we have to do on the house this summer. Have fun, but please don’t get hurt.”

I assured her that I would know my boundaries and ride carefully. Then I shrugged it off, not giving it a second thought. I was too busy thinking about how my test bike, the Trek Scratch, was going to handle the descents and drops.

The view at the mountaintop was exactly what I needed. All of my concerns about home renovations dissipated as I took in the scenery and the fresh mountain air. Although it had been a few years since I’ve ridden a long travel bike on a downhill course, I quickly rekindled my fire for this type of riding. It was my first time riding the downhill trails at Seven Springs since we had to put downhill riding on the backburner due to the time/money required for the sport and our home renovations. Maggie and I used to spend countless summer weekends at Snowshoe Mountain riding and racing their downhill trails. I was pleasantly surprised by what a great job Seven Springs did in packing in a lot of great descents for a smaller mountain.

The riding was excellent, and we got in so many runs that I lost track of how many we logged. Our fun day was nearing its end although I felt like I just got there. On what was planned to be one of the last few runs, I careened down the mountain and playfully passed another rider. Feeling great about the fun descent, I pedaled hard on a section of trail that was completely clear of massive boulders or debris. During the entire day, I could hear Maggie’s words, “Please don’t get hurt.” I took it easy on all of the technical drops and descents. I knew my limits and I wasn’t pushing them.

The great irony here is that as I pedaled hard on that clear section, fulfilling my need for speed and my last great rush of the day, I hit my pedal on a fist-sized rock that was firmly imbedded in the ground. That little rock slammed me straight into the ground. All I remember is hearing the pedal hit and me sliding down the trail on my right side watching another rider approach me. I never let go of the handlebars. I saw purple and red stars. Luckily, or maybe not, my helmet hit a tree and prevented me from sliding any further.

My office buddy, Matt came up to me right away to see if I was okay. He helped me wrestle my helmet off since I was winded and was gasping for air. As I was sitting there assessing the damages, I noticed a lightning bolt traveling down my shoulder. I had earned my wings, a broken collarbone. This blog is a tribute to all those riders who have endured summers off during the peak-riding season.

New Test Bike in the Office: 2010 Titus FTM Carbon

The new 2010 FTM Carbon is a beautiful looking bike.  I should know because I have spent more time admiring it from my armchair than riding it. We had a bit of snow in these parts and the trails are a tad impassable due the 22” of the white stuff getting in the way.

The FTM features a curvy monocoque carbon frame with internal cable routing, which adds to the sleek look of the bike. Titus has added a couple of stainless steel protection plates to help keep the bike looking beautiful.  A large plate is under the downtube to protect it from rock and other trail derbies and the other plate is a chain suck guard on the chainstay.

The FTM has 135mm of rear wheel travel via a custom-valved  Fox RP23 shock.  Up front we have a tapered headtube that flares from a 1 1/8” to a 1 1/2”. The fork is a Fox 32 Talas  RLC with the 15QR system and the new FIT damper.

Hopefully the weather breaks soon and I get some saddle time on this steed.

For those folks who are curious on how a carbon frame is made, checkout the Titus Facebook page for some great pictures.

Interbike Mini-Review: Brompton S6L

During Interbike week, we borrowed a variety of bikes from companies to ride from our rental house to the indoor show, plus to parties and happenings around town after dark. Not only did this make our experience much more enjoyable, it allowed us a closer look at some of the latest offerings in the realm of transportation and utility bikes. Over the next couple of weeks, we will be presenting our impressions of our time with these bikes as mini-reviews on the Bicycle Times website.

My introduction to Brompton bicyles was at this year’s Dirt Demo at Interbike. This is where I met Emerson Roberts and Andrew Finkill, who presented me with a nice clean Brompton to borrow for my remaining week in Vegas. They demonstrated how the bike folded, then tested me to make sure I was paying attention. After I passed the test, I was sent on my way to explore my new wheels. Click here to read the mini-review.

Under Test: Norco Jubei 1

Who kicks the most ass, a Pirate or a Samurai? This question has been tormenting me for a while now, and I have discovered the clear winner. A 17th century rouge Samurai, sporting an eye patch, kicks the most ass. His name is Yagyū Jūbei Mitsuyoshi. Most legends are known by a single name and this fella is no different; he is known only as Jubei. Norco honors Jubei by naming a bike after his rogue, ass-kicking nature.  The Norco Jubei 1 is my new test bike; I will give you a little insight into its mysteries, but all will be revealed in the full test, coming soon to Dirt Rag Mag.


The Jubei 1 rolls on blinged out 29” wheels that look like they were stolen off a hipster’s fixie.  The wide WTB rims and burly 2.35” tire thrash the roughest terrain, leaving it whimpering in defeat.  The husky aluminum frame features a Hydroformed downtube and is held up by a Reba SL fork. The 20mm Maxlelite on the 100mm / 3.9″ travel RockShox increases steering stiffness for a crisp feel.  For stopping power, Avid Juicy 5 hydraulics are used with 160mm rotors front and back. For forward motion, the Jubei uses a Sram 27 speed drivetrain with X9 rear derailleur and Shimano PD-M520 clipless pedals.  According to Norco’s scales, a medium bike is 29 lbs., not bad too for strong and reliable 29er.


That’s all I am allowed to reveal right now. If I told you anymore, you might feel a light breeze on the back of your neck. And when you turn around, you will be chopped in half by a 400 year-old Katana.


The Jubei 1 will set you back $1950.00, and the Jubei 2 is $1275.00.

For more Information on the Jubei  click here.

World Tour Report: 24 Hours of Big Bear

 Total Laps completed 1,832

Total distance traveled 23,449.6 miles

Total elevation gain 2,986,160 ft (565.56 miles)

We just returned from another great weekend of 24 hour racing at Big Bear Campground near Hazelton, WV.  Rolling in around noon on Friday, we saw that many riders arrived early to set up camp and to prepare for the festivities.  This year’s riders lucked out with cool and comfortable days, although rain from earlier in the week lingered as puddles on the old airstrip campground and trails. By Friday evening, the trails were soon churned up by hundreds of riders eager to preview the course.  Soon after dark, hundreds of radios were blaring the Pen’s game. Although we weren’t equipped with a radio, we were kept in-the-know by the crazed shouting and horns in the camp area. Go Pens!


From the early morning on Saturday through the afternoon of Sunday, there were few dull moments. Even when trying to doze through the night, we could hear riders talking about experiences out on the trail or cursing about unexpected light malfunctions. Between the trials competitions, 24 minutes of Big Bear, and the 12 hour race, there were many events to either partake in or watch.One of the most memorable aspects of this weekend was hearing about a rider who has overcome adversity. This incredible and admirable rider is Matt Gilman.  Several years ago Matt became blind due to his diabetes, yet he has persevered and relearned how to trials ride. Since he can only see about a foot in front of him, he carefully inspects the course with his hands before each competition. Check out these links to learn more about Matt and the trials competition.


Although the campground, exhibitors, vendors, result tent, and transition area were bustling through the entire weekend, a rider on the race course could feel miles away from civilization riding in the darkness of the night.  The course was rocky and rooty with peanut buttery muddy sections.  Since the weather held up so nicely, by the time we rode on Sunday late afternoon the trail started to improve.  Because we were out with the last riders, we had a chance to talk to some of the race volunteers at the aid stations.  What a great group of people!One of the best parts of the World Tour events is hanging out with the friends of DR at our expo tent.   As always we had a great number of renewals and new subscribers.  This year our sponsors provided some great treats for them.  Princeton Tec provided the Swerve Tail light, Fuel Headlamp, and EOS Bike Light. WTB supplied GTO clamp-on-grips, Technical Trail grips, Prowler tires, Wolverine Tires, and tubes.


Overall the event was great fun. We had a chance to hand deliver some tasty Troegenator to new friends we made while crashing their camp fires during our night hike. We had the chance to meet and talk about the race with spectators and racers.  And we had a chance to enjoy the trails.  If you haven’t participated in a 24 hour race yet, you’re missing out on an interesting and entertaining experience to say the least.  Check out the gallery.


Photos By Matt Kasprzyk

World Tour: 24 Hours of Big Bear

big bear 24 hoursIt’s that time of year again! Time for the Dirt Rag gang to roll down to the beautiful mountains of West Virginia to attend the 18th Annual 24 hours of Big Bear on June 13th and 14th 2009. Get geared up for around the clock mountain bike racing, trials competitions, and the legendary 24 minutes of Big Bear kids race.

Our world famous Dirt Rag booth with all the trimmings will be a highlight in the expo area. Be sure to swing over to see us and load up on your favorite merchandise at discounted world tour prices.

And by the way, if you start a new subscription or renew your old one, you will receive some fantastic swag from one of our fine World Tour sponsors. Princeton Tec has supplied us with Swerve tail lights, fuel head lamps, and the Macgyver of the light world, the Eos bike light. In addition, our friends at WTB have supplied us with GTO clamp-on grips, Technical trail grips, Prowler tires, and Wolverine tires. Come on down for a weekend full of good times with your friends at Dirt Rag.

Mavic Caliper Adjusters

Do you own a 26-inch wheeled mountain bike that you ride more on the road than on the trails?  Have you ever wanted to make that slow mountain bike faster on the street?  Have you tried skinny tires, but people on their road bikes are still whizzing past you? By losing the small, sluggish 26 inch-wheels and installing a pair of light, nimble 700c wheels, you will be able to turn your mountain bike into a road-worthy machine.

It’s an easy job when you have a frame with disc brakes.  All you need to do is pull out the old wheels, slide in those thin, fast 700’s, and your ready to roll. But what if your bike doesn’t have disc brake tabs, are you out of luck? No, that’s where Mavic’s caliper adjusters come to the rescue.

When you try to install 700c wheels in a 26 inch-wheeled mountain bike frame, the brake pads don’t line up with the rim, they hit just below it. The brake pads need to be a little higher in order for them to line up with the braking surface.  This is where Mavic’s caliper adjusters will come in handy.


The caliper adjusters remind me of the old school brake boosters that were popular back in the nineties, but with a set of brake bosses welded to the adjusters to allow you to mount your brakes higher on the frame. This will bridge the gap and perfectly line up your brake pads with your new 700c wheels.

Installation is simple, just remove the brakes and bolt the caliper adjusters to the brake bosses on the frame using the supplied stainless hardware.  Then bolt your brakes to the caliper adjusters.  The next step is to install the new wheels.

Pay close attention here to avoid purchasing a wheelset that will not fit your bike.  Essentially, don’t simply purchase a standard 700c road wheelset.  Here is why. When it comes to buying a set of wheels, you need to be sure to get a pair of wheels that match the spacing of your frame.  Mountain bikes have 100mm front-wheel spacing and 135mm rear-wheel spacing.  Road bikes have 100mm front-wheel spacing and 130mm rear-wheel spacing.  As you can see, the front wheel has the same spacing, but the road bike’s back wheel is 5mm narrower.  So be sure to get a 135mm-spaced 700c back wheel.

Hybrid bikes as well as some touring and cross bikes use 135 mm spacing, so it won’t be hard to find a new 700c wheel.  You may also pick up Mavic’s Speedcity wheelset, made specifically for this purpose. Once again, Mavic has another easy solution.

The last part to sort out is the tire size.  If you plan on sporting your super tight Lycra to dominate the roads, you can put on the smallest tire your rim will allow.  If you still crave a little dirt and prefer a little cyclocross action, you can fit a 32mm tire onto your sweet new rims.  However, when you take the tire size up to 35 mm, you tend to pick up a few noisemakers (i.e. leaves, sticks, and stones) in the gap between the adjusters and your tire.  Once you’ve slapped on your new tires and your cassette, go ahead and put your new wheels onto your old mountain bike frame.  All thats left is a quick brake adjustment and you’re ready to roll.

I used to race my old, rigid mountain bike at cyclocross races, and after I switched to the larger wheels, I could really feel a big difference.  I was glad I made the switch to 700’s.  The caliper adjusters were a great way to transform my ride into a completely different machine.   Whether it’s a great commuter or cyclocross bike you’re looking for, there are many options for that old 26 inch-wheeled mountain bike.

Japan: Bikes Here, There and Everywhere

I recently returned from an amazing trip to Osaka, Japan with my wife, Maggie, and her awesome parents/tour guides, Bill and Kazuko. We saw many great sights, we ate way too much good food, and saw more of the country than the most seasoned Japanese tourist.
Reclining Buddha
Before we left for our travels, I thought that I had a good idea what bicycle culture would be like in Japan. But, wow, I had no idea. The sheer volume of cyclists blew me away. Bicycles are an integral part of life in Japan. Everyone of all ages and backgrounds ride bikes. Bicycles seem to be the number one choice for transportation. It’s a common site to see suit-wearing businessmen pedaling to work in the morning, busy moms picking up the kids from school on their bike in the afternoon, and teenagers with their date sitting sidesaddle on the rear rack. Bikes are everywhere.Most of the folks in Japan ride their bikes on the sidewalks. To an outsider it may look a bit chaotic and dangerous but all the mayhem seems to work. Pedestrians and bikes seem to flow on the bustling city streets. Just remember these rules; if you are out on foot to keep to the left side of the sidewalk (walk with the traffic not upstream), if you hear a bell ringing be sure to get out of the way. Sometimes you are given a warning to move when you hear the high pitched squeal of drum brakes.
In many business districts, bike parking can be a real problem. The sidewalks are overflowing with parked bikes. Many business owners, tired of having clusters of bike blocking their storefronts, place no parking signs outside of their storefronts. However, they are largely ignored. To help with this dilemma of parking, many buildings in the city have covered parking shelters. And, in order to provide ample bike storage, they have double-decker areas. Another convenient place for parking bikes was found underground in the walkway entrance for the subway. They even had ramps built into the center of the stairway to aid in the descent/ascent of pushing your bike. So many people use the subway and the bicycle for their daily commute. It was great to see so many people traveling without a car.On our travels, we managed to tie in a handful of bicycle related sight-seeing. We rented bikes a couple of times, we visited the Shimano funded bike museum in Sakai, and we watched Kirin racing. Check out the photos in the gallery. All in all, we had a great trip. The amazing variety of bicycles ranging from the cushy electric assist bikes, track bikes, utility-delivery bikes, to the super-compact folding bikes made for a trip filled with daily surprises.Enjoy the pictures in the photo gallery .

Next Stop on the Dirt Rag World Tour: Massanutten Hoo-Ha!

It’s time for the next stop on the 2008 Dirt Rag World Tour. Justin and I are heading to the Massanutten resort in McGaheysville, Virginia, for the 20th Anniversary of the Massanutten Hoo-Ha! this weekend, May 31-June 1, 2008.  This classic cross-country race is the biggest and baddest in Virginia, and the plentiful supply of rocky trails makes it one of most challenging courses around. Because it is the Virginia XC State finals, you can expect to see some explosive and fun racing. If racing, spectating, or enjoying a trail ride aren’t enough to do, the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition is hosting a Super-D race on Saturday afternoon at 5:00 pm. So come on down and make a whole weekend out of it.

Be sure to swing over to the world famous Dirt Rag booth. We have a lot of swag for any new or renewing subscribers; this includes Platypus bladders, Jagwire brake /derailleur cable and housing sets, WTB Moto raptor tires, and much more. Stop by to say hi, shoot the breeze, become a new or renewing subscriber, or to peruse our selection of authentic Dirt Rag merchandise. See you at the event!


The New Kid


Hey, folks! Another new face has crossed the threshold of the Dirt Rag house. I feel lucky to be here and I am excited to share my enthusiasm and experiences in cycling with yinz (spoken in a true –Pittsburghese-British accent). Wow, all of the years I spent tinkering with bikes and reading Dirt Rag have resulted in the realization of my dream job. I suppose you’re curious about my life with bikes and how this cycling-crazed British yinzer came to be. Here’s the story…

Growing up in the small village of West Haddon in Northamptonshire, England, I had no idea that nearly 20 years later I would be obsessed with bikes (vintage VW restoration), married to a girl I call “Margie,” living in Western Pennsylvania, and working for Dirt Rag. Who knew those formative years I spent cruising my Raleigh Burner BMX around the sleepy English countryside would be the beginning of many experiences on the trail. After my family and I moved to the United States, I turned sixteen and left my bikes in the garage to collect dust and rust. Finally, when the novelty of driving wore off, I began to crave the excitement of my former mode of transportation, a bicycle. Soon after I learned of a great job, a bicycle messenger.


When I learned about this job, I said to myself, “You get paid to be outside and ride your bike all day. Where do I sign up?” I loved working as a messenger because I met some of the coolest people, including some of my best friends that I still have today. I also learned the glory of clipless pedals, essential bicycle mechanic skills, and became an avid rider. Ultimately, a group of messenger friends took me to my first outing on the trails of Western Pennsylvania. At that moment, I switched my tires from slick to knobby and never looked back.

I worked as a messenger for over three years and after having cars bounce me around the city like a pinball, I realized it was time to take a break from the messenger scene. This proved to be an ideal time to experience life again in England. It was great to be home again. I soon found a job as bricklayer and spent my free time riding my cross bike from village to village. After about six months, I began to miss my future wife, Maggie, so I returned to the States. Before leaving England, I learned of an upcoming cyclocross race and experienced my first taste of bicycle racing. At dusk, in the stadium-lit field in the town of Rugby, I raced around the cyclocross course hurdling barriers and hoping to finish the race in time to catch the last train home. I loved the excitement of racing and discovered my competitive streak. Upon returning to Pittsburgh, I still wanted to work with bikes everyday, so the next logical step in my mind was a position in a bike shop. The rest is history. I spent the next decade working at bike shops, mostly as a store manager and a mechanic, while racing just about every genre of off-road cycling available.


So here I am now, loving my new position as Fulfillment Guy. It gives me a chance to do what I love, working with bikes and great people who share the same passion for bicycles as I do. Look out for me, your British Yinzer friend in the upcoming issues, or on the trails !


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