Update: MEZZO 650B Test Ride

Update: Our newest hardtail will be called MEZZO 650B. Mezzo means 'middle' in Latin and the name is fitting since the 650B wheel size (27.5") sits in the middle of popular 26" and 29" wheel sizes. The website has been updated to include more information about this unique frame. Click link below:


------------------Test Ride Report-------------------

Today Rob and I headed out for a quick loop on Rocky Ridge, a local trail with a nice mixture of climbing and descending. Since the ride is short with a rocky descent, I thought it would be a good (albeit brief) testing ground for the new 650B prototype. Weather was cool with overcast skies; the trails were tacky with some muddy sections.

So how was it? The ride was enjoyable even though climbing was hindered by excessive mud buildup on the Pacenti Neo Motos. On the main climb, the 650 wheels felt similar to 26" wheels and my out of shape butt managed to make it all the way to the top without too much drama. I need to mention that the geometry of this new frame is identical to similar 26" frames I've designed in the past. Chainstays remained tight and both head and seat angles are a little slack like all my trail hardtails. Here are the specs:

Fork Length: 19.055" [484mm]
Fork Rake: 1.732" [44mm]
Head Angle: 70 deg
Seat Angle: 72.5 deg
Top Tube (eff): 24" [610mm]
Chainstay: 16.9" [429mm]
BB Height: 12.375" [314mm]

Once downhill sections started, most of the mud flew off and traction was more predictable. The larger diameter wheels rolled over rocky sections with ease and I felt immediately confident on the bike. Since I've ridden many incarnations of my aluminum frames, this baby felt stable and well-balanced the minute I hopped on the WTB Laser V saddle.

Rob seemed to have fun too until a little slip on the descent caused him to spill. After dusting off, we were back on our way through some serious mud sections. Rob's steel frame (finished in 'Larry Bird' green and pictured below) shed the cake-like mud very well and his post-ride cleanup won't be nearly as involved as mine!

Why is this bike nicknamed Dirty Harry? Because this 650's first ride was a dirty one that started at 650 Harry Road! I'm looking forward to taking this bike over to UC Santa Cruz and Wilder Ranch for a more extended ride as soon as I can...stay tuned for more updates.


Happy Kirk Day

Just finished assembling this polished prototype 650B frame while listening to Kirk Hammett 's guitar in true Metallica form. Another Kirk - Kirk Pacenti - was kind enough to send over a pair of his Neo Moto tires to try out. These meaty tires are 2.3s and have serious side knobs for added stability. The fork is a custom White Bros made specifically for the 650B wheel size and there's plenty of clearance under the arch. Build kit is mostly new Shimano XT and the Hope brakes and Easton carbon components were scavenged from my steel hardtail. Wheels are Velocity Blunt rims, Hope Pro II hubs laced 3X with Wheelsmith double-butted spokes. It's a durable and relatively light wheelset that should hold up nicely. As shown it weighs in at 24.5lbs.

I opted for full-housing from the top tube's rear cable stop to the rear derailleur; this should help keep shifting smooth in wet/muddy conditions found on local trails this time of year.

Even with 2.3s there is enough clearance provided by the machined yoke.

The new XT front derailleur has nice clearance from the rear tire also...no more Dremel reworks to the forged derailleur body like we've done for 29ers in the past.


650B Update

Yesterday I picked up the prototype 650B frame from Mario's Metal Polishing in Santa Cruz and it shines like the Star of David. Looking forward to building up this beauty after Christmas..stay tuned for more pics and the first ride report.


Christine Vardaros Sustains Concussion

Pro 'cross racer Christine Vardaros suffered a concussion and we're all hoping for a speedy recovery. If all goes well, she will be at the starting line the day after Christmas at the next world cup race. Click here for the press release. Good luck Christine!


The Liz Hatch Interview

Liz Hatch was recently interviewed by 'The Sporting Life Society' and the best line is below:

Ol' Sport: What's your favorite bike that you've ridden or raced?

Liz Hatch: ...my current bike, my Ahrens prototype road bike. It's pretty hard to beat a custom frame.

The entire interview can be found here.


Here's My 650 Cents

Mountain bikers now have another wheel choice for their quiver - the 650B. Kirk Pacenti showed a 650B mountain frame at the NAHBS event earlier this year and the buzz was immediate. Larger wheel sizes roll over obstacles more easily and like to maintain speed. The 650B wheel size measures ~27.5" placing it between the standard 26" and ever popular 29" wheel sizes. Although the 650 wheel size has been popular for many years on touring bikes, it's now making it's way into the mountain bike realm. I'm very excited at this new development and prototype frames are in the works from Ahrens Bicycles.

Here's some background on the 650B activity:


Click on link below and vote for 650!


Here are pics of the Pacenti prototype with a White Brothers fork and his own Neo Moto 2.3" tire. Tire and rim selection continue to increase and by next spring there should be a nice variety of 650B wheel/tire components from Velocity, Sun, Panaracer and Kenda.


World Cup Gate Slammer

Here are some pics of Gil's 2008 Gate Slammer slalom/4X frame. It's setup to compete in European World Cup events and you can tell from the build kit that this bike is truly high-end. Hope Moto V2 Brakes, King Titanium Headset, King Wheels, Carbon DH Cranks - the list goes on. Gil worked with Tray and crew at AWWBS to assemble this beauty - great shop that I highly recommend.


Images from Photo Shoot

Special thanks to Kurt Harvey Photography for last week's photo shoot in preparation for the NAHBS event. Here are some images to drool over...


Neo Neo Retro

I finally built up my new road frame in preparation for a photo shoot. I can't wait to take this rig out for a real ride to see how it handles. Riding around the block it feels great...even without the right shoes and limited visibility at night. Total weight 16.9 lbs!


Neo Retro Road Frame

Finally a road frame for myself! Special thanks to Jason Grove for building this beauty and to Allan Neymark for the wet paint. It features an Easton 7005 Ultralite front triangle, Reynolds Ouzo Pro carbon seatstays and Columbus Zonal s-bend chainstays. It tips the scales at 2.9 lbs - not bad for a 59cm frame for my tall ass!

The paint scheme is reminiscent of open-wheeled race cars...metallic gray base coat, cream panels, Irish green decals and of course liquid clear coat. The gothic 'A' head badge is enclosed in a cream circle for the finishing touch. Stay tuned for pics of the built machine which will feature a full Dura Ace build kit and some delicious Reynolds Attack clinchers.


Interbike, Vanderlicious and MTBR

Interbike is a great show and this year was no exception. Flying in late Wednesday night, we connected with the Vanderkitten crew after Cross Vegas and headed over to the Sinclair VIP party. Nothing like a bunch of bike geeks jammed into a small space with music blaring and drinks flowing all around...

We're very thankful to Vanderkitten for displaying three complete bikes from Ahrens Bicycles at this year's show. Our brand new Whole Shot cross frame made its debut in Vegas and we couldn't be happier. For many weeks leading up to Interbike all parties involved worked diligently to get these bikes done! With a brown and pink color scheme, these bikes and complimentary VK kits will be a sure standout this season.

Thursday and Friday were very busy days and we had meetings with Reynolds, FSA, DT Swiss, Hope and Fox Racing. Of course we saw sick new products that will make their way onto new frames very soon! And after working in this industry for many years, it really is a small world. I ran into Francis from MTBR and he was kind enough to post a small blurb about Ahrens Bicycles in their show coverage blog....CLICK HERE to see it.

Good luck to Mandy Lozano this cross season! Check out her blog HERE.
Below is a shot of Roubaix Girl's (aka Liz Hatch) race frame. Soon to be outfitted with tubular carbon wheels from Reynolds, this bike has been raced numerous times this year. Twice in Vegas at both the women's and men's crit races! Check out the blog HERE.

Siren Bicycles showing off a new set of Sliding Dropouts from Ahrens Bicycles at the Cane Creek booth. Brendan Collier's new company is making some sick bikes - check out the work right HERE.




Whole Shot Cross Frames

Labor of love is the only way I can describe this project. Countless hours of work by all involved, the Vanderkitten/Ahrens team frames are nearing completion and I couldn't be happier. If you're going to Interbike next week, you can see some of these bikes in action at Cross Vegas and of course the Vanderkitten booth.

Tastes great. Less Filling.
The chocolate finished frames look so nice you will eat them up! And with frame weights under 3 lbs (size 52), these babies won't weigh you down during races. The plaid sticker kit is unreal and Vanderkitten has truly outdone themselves this time! Stay tuned for more photos of the assembled frames...


Dualrailleur by Wicked Racin'

Last year I was contacted by Mark at Wicked Racin' to assist in developing the Dualrailleur chain guide system. Mark had already hand-built a few prototypes that worked exceptionally well on his small fleet of Santa Cruz duallies. I immediately saw the advantages of this concept for long-travel trail bikes that typically use single-ring chain guide/bash guard setups. The Dualrailleur enables front shifting of (2) chainrings which doubles the number of gears available to the rider - how sick is that?!

From the Wicked Racin' website: The Dualrailleur is the first and only guide on the market to provide the precision of a single ring guide while allowing the rider to shift between two front chain rings.

Mark's novel concept encloses a Shimano XT front derailleur with aluminum and polycarbonate plates to create broad shifting surfaces to accurately control chain movement without any slippage. After a full introduction at Sea Otter this year, this unique design has caught the attention of pro racers, major component manufacturers, frame builders and of course consumers. Check out some recent reviews of this product in MBA and BRAIN below.

Here's a review from Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN) July 2007:


The challenge to designing the Dualrailleur was converting functional/hand-built prototypes to flexible 3D CAD models. The first step was to dismantle a working unit, trace the pieces onto a piece of paper and measure many of the features with calipers. Each plate has a specific purpose; the anchor plate mates to the front derailleur and is made from aluminum. The center plate bridges the anchor plate and outer plate while serving to stiffen the derailleur cage. The outer plate clamps everything together while adding more stiffness.

After many hours of modeling, the first design concept was prototyped and has served as the baseline for all future iterations. I believed we've reached the goal of developing a low-profile, high-performance design with minimal part count. If you're going to Interbike, you'll want to check out the Wicked Racin' booth in Vegas.

Exploded views of the Dualrailleur are shown below. Do you have an idea worth prototyping or patenting? I can help you bring your product ideas to reality - please contact me for more info.