PressCamp ’14: Part IV

PressCamp ’14: Part IV

If I were on the singles’ market, I’d list among my favorite pastimes “talking to engineers.” God, I’m such a freak. My meeting with the guys at Kali was really mostly a guitar solo by Kali’s creator in chief, Brad Waldron, talking about evolving helmet technology. We share in common both concussions and parenthood. Kind of a weird club. However, those details make you think about what can be done to decrease the odds of other people experiencing them. Much of our conversation was less about their latest model, a multi-impact sustainable enduro helmet called the Maya, and more about what’s necessary to make a helmet safe enough to withstand multiple impacts.

The shot above was taken following three impacts on Kali’s Saha commuter helmet. It’s a hard-shell helmet and the EPS was removed following the third impact—in the same location—to reveal that colossal dent. The shots below show them executing the helmet.
IMG_8780 IMG_8782 IMG_8783

What was remarkable—and they told me to listen to the impacts—was how muffled the sound was following the first impact. The second impact was louder, while the third impact sounded like that metal ingot was striking the bare head form. Following the little demo, Brad then posed the question, “So what constitutes multiple impact?”

“For us,” he said, “That number is 10. We want a helmet to be able to absorb energy from 10 impacts.” Granted, a helmet is unlikely to sustain multiple bashes in exactly the same location, but still….

When I think about my son and the likelihood that he would remember to tell me about every time he hits his head in a fall once he’s out riding on his own, the idea that a helmet might remain safe for use following a half-dozen impacts is pretty attractive. It’s not that I’m unwilling to replace a helmet, it’s that I might not know about all of them.

This is a helmet not yet on the market but one they are testing that uses a polyurethane in the liner that feels like an ultra-dense foam rubber. Think skateboard wheel. IMG_8793

For my road riding, I’m interested in aerodynamics, stylish looks and light weight. But when I’m mountain biking or putting something on my kid, those priorities change. Tons of coverage, a smooth surface that my son can put stickers on and a stout construction that will still do its job after a series of knocks, well, that’s the sort of thinking that makes Kali one of the more interesting helmet manufacturers.

So last winter roughly half a dozen of SRAM’s new hydraulic brake units failed. The failures were all in very cold or freezing conditions. To the company’s credit, they were ultra-proactive in the recall and communicated where they were in the process with regularity. And while the new brakes took longer to produce than they promised, the all-hands effort resulted not only in a replacement brake, but in hydraulic brakes for Red, it also saw units introduced for Force, Rival and the CX group. IMG_8795

The changes were numerous. Some, like the redesign of the master cylinder bore, were vital to the new brake, but also make for somewhat esoteric conversations. Other changes to the brakes, such as the fact that you can now adjust both lever reach and free stroke, as well as the changes to the self-advancing pads, are less important to the viability of the system, but hugely important to making the system friendly enough for daily use.

I’m expecting a bike with these brakes later this summer, so watch for a full review soon. IMG_8799

Stan’s NoTubes is best known for their tubeless conversion kits, but their biggest contribution to the advancement of tubeless technology, once the history is written, will go down as what they did in rim design. IMG_8800

The rim profile for the new Grail wheelset should have everyone wanting to run road tubeless on unpaved roads salivating. The wheel was developed specifically for GT’s Grade which I detailed in my last post. The Grail rim has a 21mm inner width and a 24mm outer width, perfect for making a 25mm tire ride like a 28mm one. IMG_8801

The rim, at 460g, is pretty heavy, but thanks to its rounded spoke bed and 24.5mm depth, it is arguably Stan’s most aerodynamic rim ever. The rim will be available in two drillings, 28 and 32. GT chose to go with the 28 for a slightly lighter overall build. If you purchase the built wheels, the Team version features 24 spokes front and 28 rear for a wheelset claimed weight of 1570g. The 32-spoke Comp build is said to come in at 1720g. Pricing, given all the pricey sets out there is refreshing: $695 for the Team and $645 for the Comp. Like other Stan’s sets, you can choose between quick release and through-axle options and either 10 or 11-speed options on a Shimano/SRAM freehub.


Purely Custom may not be a name familiar to you, but the company produced the Serotta fit bike that many top fitters use. Their tools and software are used by the likes of Paraic McGlynn of Cyclologic and Bike Effect’s Steven Carre. The laser setup above allows a fit analyst to determine X and Y coordinates for an existing bike and then quickly replicate those on a fit bike as a reference point, as well as work backward quickly from a fit bike position and check that it’s identical to the new position on an existing bike. IMG_8805

The laser makes quick work of the measurements. IMG_8804

Purely Custom’s fitting tools are ideal for a shop that is attempting to gradually increase their fit services because the tools are available a la carte and there’s no recurring royalty payment to the system manufacturer. IMG_8802

What I found most intriguing in my visit with Purely Custom was the new bike database that Cyclologic’s McGlynn walked me through. They have built a database of most manufacturer’s bike geometries. You input the X and Y coordinates for both the handlebar and saddle position and the database will feed back to you what adjustments must be made to each size within a given model to allow you to achieve your proper fit, right down to how many headset spacers. I’ve seen some fit systems moving this way, but this is absolutely the most thorough job I’ve seen so far. IMG_8803
Like I wrote earlier, I’m such a geek. This piece of software gave me chills. It’s one of the most powerful fitting tools I’ve ever seen. And it’s available for PC or Mac—holy cow! I plan on running this here in my office so when I’m selecting bikes for review I’ll know which size is the best fit, in advance.  

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  1. Sidamo

    re: helmets, you should buy Australian Standards helmets. My understanding (open to correction) is that for Euro & US standards, there’s a new helmet used for each test within the standard, whereas the Aussie standard requires that the same helmet passes all the impact tests.

  2. Hackintheback

    Padraig – Were you able to get a fit on the Purely Custom setup? If so, I’d be interested in seeing how the numbers compare to the fit you did on a similar setup (was it Guru?) last year.

    1. Author

      Hackintheback: I didn’t do a fitting at PressCamp; my meeting with them was only about an hour. That said, the tools they offer are what were being marketed under Serotta’s name previously. That fit bike is what Bike Effect’s Steven Carre used when he fit me last year. It’s a really great tool, but fundamentally it’s still just a tool. A great fitting comes down to the knowledge and insight of the fit analyst and Steven is one of the Cyclologic instructors. He’s one of the best I’ve met.

  3. Les.B.

    I am surprised to see that Purely Custom makes a cutting edge fitting system. I have known them as a purveyor of trinkets for tricking-out bikes, such as colorful bar-end stoppers. Quite a paradigm shift!

    Their parent company, Seastrom, is one I was familiar with in my career in electronics, as a premier supplier of hardware for electronics and aerospace, and industry in general. You like geekstuff? This is as down-to-earth geeky as it gets:

  4. Shawn

    “We share in common both concussions and parenthood. … However, those details make you think about what can be done to decrease the odds of other people experiencing them.”

    Children or concussions?

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