Weekly Roundup: Thelonious Bike Edition

Consistency, the man said, is the hobgoblin of little minds. When I returned to BMX riding about sixteen months ago, I didn’t have a lot of respect for the so-called “dirtjumper” bikes, those odd and awkward hybrids of 26″ wheel, suspension fork, and BMX geometry. I thought of them as “easy buttons” for big jumps and difficult lines down a trail.

The more I saw of them, however, the more I liked the idea of having a little more stability. Breaking my ribs and my arm at an indoor bike park last year made me even more receptive to the idea of a bicycle that would dial back the penalties for small mistakes in the air. So here’s my brand-new Chromag Monk dirt-jumper. It’s basically a dead-stock Chromag complete with different colors on a few parts. It took Chromag a full six months to deliver it to me, because these things are only in slightly less demand than new Ferrari 488GTBs.

This loneliest Monk and I are getting along pretty well. One thing I don’t like about it: the frame was made in Taiwan. I offered to pay Chromag their standard frame rate to do a Canadian-made Monk, but they refused. So I’ll probably have Mike Laird duplicate this frame in titanium over the upcoming winter then rebuild the bike around Chris King wheels and the new frame.

To see what these bikes are really capable of, and to catch up on my writing from last week, click the jump.


Alright, that’s not a Chromag at all. That’s my boy doing about the same drop (minus a stair) on his Cleary Meerkat. He’s a cool dude. I’m lucky to know him.

For TTAC, I did YET ANOTHER ACCORD PIECE that you can read here.

At R&T, I wrote a farewell to my kinda-sorta friend Jean-Marc Gales and a recommendation for SCCA’s new Time Trial program. It’s great. Check it out.

Oh, and here’s what a Monk can do in truly capable hands. Take a look. Don’t expect the same out of me; I like to stay within about five feet of the ground at all times.

45 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: Thelonious Bike Edition”

  1. E. Bryant

    I recently picked up a Trek Ticket S, mainly because I wanted (or more accurately, needed) some squish at both ends if I was going to do any hucking with 42-year-old joints that got worn out by the same behavior more than two decades ago. Cased landings still hurt, but less so than on a little (and extremely rigid) BMX. It’s kinda weird to thrash around the skatepark on a bike that has more travel than a full-tilt downhill rug from my youth, but such is the modern age where showing up for a cross-country ride with less than 150mm of travel makes one look a bit wimpy.

    I suspect that the Ticket S (and most any modern dirt jumper) would also make a killer dual-slalom bike, but best that I can tell, that racing style became obsolete during my 15-year self-induced exile from cycling while pursuing misguided career goals and figuring out the early years of fatherhood. Too bad, because slalom was a ton of fun even on the crappy equipment that was available to a privateer in the mid 90s, and while a modern bike wouldn’t turn me into Brian Lopes, it’d at least make the trip through the gates a bit smoother.

    The near-complete lack of domestically-produced bicycles is still depressing, especially when I saw first-hand just how many skilled Americans were employed by companies like Trek a couple of decades ago. Hopefully those talented folks at least got a brief chance to cash in during the oil boom a few years ago.

    How does your son like the Cleary? He certainly looks like he’s handling it well. My boy is still a couple years and a few more inches from stepping up to a 24″ rig, unless we begin his doping program a bit early.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      The Cleary has turned out to be a great choice and it’s a fraction of what you’d pay Spawn or Trailcraft.

      Reply
  2. -Nate

    What a great video ! .

    I’m actively looking go get back in the saddle but my mangled knees mean I’m looking at electric start Motos…..

    I can only dream of ever having been able to ride like this kid does, great stuff .

    -Nate

    Reply
    • Dirty Dingus McGee

      Over the years, I have become a BIG fan of the “electric leg”.

      35 or so years ago, the first street bike I bought that didn’t have a kicker, I immediately set out to have one added. At the cost of just the parts, I realized I could buy about 10 batteries. Needless to say, my money has gone to batteries since.

      Reply
      • -Nate

        n dig that .

        Many decades ago when I rode with the Vector McLaglen Motor Corps I always kick starter my 1965 FL Harley PanHead, it did have an electric start but you know, young and dumb/proud…..

        Then one day after a long shift the kick starter ratchet slipped when I jumped on it, it hurt so badly I couldn’t even get off the bike for 45 minutes .

        Much older now but apparently no wiser .

        -Nate

        Reply
  3. statick89

    Two words: disc golf. Doesn’t need to take away from MTB or road riding. Is additive, and way more fun than you might imagine.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      The problem is that nobody yet knows what DJ geometry should look like. Least of all Giant at al.

      Reply
  4. Chris

    Read your Accord piece in TTAC. Was wondering, if not dealer, where do you get work done? I live in Dublin and generally drive low maintenance Japanese cars so I don’t have huge ongoing service needs. Still, I’d like to have some informed idea about a good local mechanic I might take cars to instead of the dealer. Any recommendations? Thanks for any input.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Anything serious I have done by Jon Shevel at Albany Autoworks. That’s a real hike but I trust him.

      Reply
      • E. Bryant

        What qualifies as “serious” work on an Accord? The biggest task I had to tackle on my wife’s V6 coupe was replacing the cabin air filter (a task that was admittedly made slightly too complicated due to Honda’s tendency to use approximately 5x the number of fasteners that Toyota would for the same piece of interior trim).

        Reply
        • CJinSD

          A V6 Accord gets a timing belt, timing belt tension adjuster, cam seals, a crank seal, a water pump, drive belts, and spark plugs at 100K miles.

          Reply
  5. hank chinaski

    Accords are more pertinent to this audience than starlings, the duck pond and hand jobs.

    Well, mostly.

    Reply
  6. E. Bryant

    I guess that DJ geometry doesn’t get me all hot and bothered like it does on a road bike. It seems as if the main issue is getting the effective top tube or reach correct for the prospective rider’s arm and torso length; every other standard geometry measurement looks straightforward (short chainstays, 12.5”ish bottom bracket height, headtube angle in the neighborhood of 69 degrees, seattube angle doesn’t matter since the saddle just needs to stay out of the way).

    At least this isn’t like an enduro/all-mountain MTB where the internet crowd endlessly argues over headtube angle differences of two-tenths a degree despite the fact that 150mm of travel and squishy tires makes any geometry measurement a theoretical concept at best.

    What would be entertaining is to determine how strong is strong enough for a DJ bike. A rail-thin teenager might need a lot less beef throughout the bike than those of us who have been eating well for another few decades.

    Reply
    • Harry

      The more modern full suspension MTBs I ride, and I have been on at least 15 demo bikes in that last two years as well as my personal build, the less I trust/understand geometry as a way of predicting how a bike will feel. Gross numbers that sorta define categories of bikes are one thing, but within similar directly competitive bikes it counts for bupkis.

      Ah then fork offset.

      More people should just demo bikes, on their favorite trails, and then just buy what they like.

      Reply
      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

        In BMX it counts for more than you can possibly imagine since the bikes are tiny to begin with and there’s no compliance to be had anywhere in the system.

        Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Given that I just put my previously-broken arm in the ground today because I bent the freewheel cog under full steam, maybe the frame isn’t the worst of my strength problems. 🙁

      Reply
  7. rambo furum

    Is there something preventing paying off the Accord early? I see all these other inessential expenditures and am perplexed that there is an unpaid car loan.

    Reply
    • silentsod

      If someone is willing to give you money at low, low rates then it frees you to use cash on hand elsewhere for other things.

      I have a couple of 0% loans and I can’t believe lenders would do this because they’re literally losing money on that (if there’s no interested, where is the value they get? volume?) and I will not pay them off early.

      Reply
      • Brawnychicken

        I mean-you’re right. Why pay early for free or nearly free money?

        Anything that has available zero interest is marked up to offset the loss. .It’s pretty easy to do in today’s market-where banks are paying <1% to the Fed. You're paying interest-you're just not seeing it and they've eliminated any incentive to pay early. Very clever really.

        Reply
        • silentsod

          I don’t happen to know of a place to get a Surface Pro below MSRP and while I’m sure Microsoft has a mark up they’re not marking it up additionally over buying it in a storefront or from an official seller.

          Reply
  8. Dirty Dingus McGee

    ” I like to stay within about five feet of the ground at all times.”

    At this point in my life, that’s about double what I want.

    As a wee McGee, I was quite certain I would become the next Evel Knievel. Despite my best efforts, the only part of his career I successfully emulated was the crashing.

    Gravity sucks.

    Reply
  9. DeadWeight

    Hey Jack: If you totaled out the amount of money you spent on all the stupid, overpriced shit that you have over the last decade, from watches, to bikes, to guitars, and everything in-between, and forewent those highly discretionary purchases, and put even 50% of those monies allocated thereto (better yet, 75%) into a trust for John, he’d have a bigger advantage and hedge against future risk/uncertainty, and you’d be a less selfish prick of a dad for it, and could point to things you did and actions you took in the form of relatively minor sacrifices (90% of that shit you blow money on isn’t really going to make you happier, more fulfilled, or improve the quality of your life, and will just collect dust).

    Take control over your OCD to allocate real money towards the purchase of “stuff”for your selfish ass and think of your progeny. It’s never too late to realize that your priorities are wrong.

    Now cue Dirty Dingus McGee and your other cult of personality mindless followers to defend you and your irresponsible choices, with piss-poor logic, and as a bonus, slather three jars of Skippy peanut butter on your balls so that they can lick it off.

    Reply
      • Deadweight

        Let’s see if Jack admits that my tough love approach and advice is actually closer to true than not, or if he reflexively defends his spending priorities, and what sort of mental gymnastics he’ll engage in in order to rationalize his past/present decisions.

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          Again, thanks for your “tough love”, but I’m not sure it’s necessary.

          Tell you what. Why don’t you check in with him after I’m dead and see what he thinks about how I spent my money and lived my life. If he agrees with you, then you can go take a nice long piss on my grave.

          Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      It’s very nice of you to worry about my son.

      Thank you.

      He’ll be fine. Under no circumstances will I discuss his financial resources, away from and independent of me, in this forum. But he’ll be fine, regardless of whether I check out tonight like Anthony Bourdain or live to be a hundred.

      Reply
      • Deadweight

        It’s interesting you mention Bourdain.

        Something along the order of 99%+ of the population doesn’t understand the diminishing returns, down to zero and even bleaching negative territory (psychologically) of accumulating additional material goods, beyond a certain threshold, once the hierarchy of needs essentially established by Maslow are satisfied.

        Some of the most credible and preeminent psychologists AND economists hypothesize that the current threshold of income to get to that “marginal return” level is about $80,000 to $190,000 annually in the U.S. (depending heavily on where one lives and its corresponding cost of living).

        Most people don’t understand or can’t relate to the concept that people quickly become habituated to and numb by a high standard income and of living, quickly, in almost the exact same manner that drug addicts build up a tolerance to their drug of choice.

        I’ve experienced the former, from about 2002 to 2007, when I literally experienced the best of everything, all the way to have a massive salary with incredible perks while doing deal work at the very peak of the economic bubble between 2003-2007.

        I now realize that the human brain gets numb quickly to that excessive shit, and with the exception of core passions, which most people only have 1 or maybe 2 of, ludicrous monies spent on the best wine, vehicles, accommodations, clothing, food, etc., loses the ability to stimulate dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins, or otherwise engage norepinephrine systems.

        I now life below my means, but comfortably, focusing on core, true passions,’and dispensing with the meaningless, fruitless, but often very expensive extraneous bullshit.

        I suspect (conjecture) that many people like Bourdain (especially with addiction in their past, which re’wired their brain circuitry), have an exceedingly difficult time deriving pleasure, get depressed in a physical and brain chemistry sense, no matter how much access to stimulation they have (see all the overdose deaths of highly compensated celebrities/musicians/comedians/businesspersons for further examples of this, or the % of mega-lottery winners that end up bankrupt, divorced, addicted, isolated, paranoid and dead after “winning”).

        Reply
        • Deadweight

          For the record, I can truthfully state that I was spending $250,000 to $350,000 NET (not including state, federal or other taxes) on just annual living expenses between approx 2003 and 2007, and that I was receiving major perks from work in the form of travel to the best hotels with the best rooms (in some cases, a month-long assignment in a 2,500 sq ft villa with private pool and butler), eating like a total glutton at the best restaurants on the company, flying in one of the companies half dozen corporate jets (taking off from Oakland County Executive Airport – private – no public, no lines), and being/acting the baller bro part.

          In hindsight, it did not make me happy or sustain me, make me a better person, nourish my soul (just the opposite), or fulfill me in any meaningful manner. I reflect upon it now as a period of pure hedonism, that offered no lasting benefits other than to help me rearrange my priorities in life and fundamentally change the way I view the world and my role within it.

          Despite my very prickly and direct mannerisms, I am now dedicating more of my time and energy towards helping others who really need the help, and am even now engaged in a host of projects assisting genuinely impoverished, downtrodden people, who lost the lucky sperm lottery.

          Reply
          • Ronnie Schreiber

            Voluntarily helping others is anti-depressive.

            Life is full of suffering and it’s probably better to focus on giving your life meaning instead of on being happy. If your goal is happiness, something as simple as a flat tire, really any brushing up against reality, can ruin your day.

    • Dirty Dingus McGee

      I see that good ole DW is still letting me live rent free in his head. This amuses me more than I would have thought possible. in fact I hope it gets to the point where he stomps around the psych ward, swatting imaginary flies and growling at random people.

      As for your fascination with gay sex, you gotta understand that even though YOU like your husband being a butt pirate, the majority of us are heterosexual. It’s 2018 and you’re free to live your gay lifestyle out in the open, especially out in the area you alluded to living in. However you are quite misguided, when you assume that the rest of also want to work the glory hole at the homeless shelter.

      I do hope you continue to post your Quixote like thoughts. It shows the rest us just how many fries you are short of being a Happy Meal.

      Reply
  10. tyates

    Enjoyed reading about Jean-Marc Gales at Lotus. I’ve been wondering for a while how “peak porsche” will end. Since a company like Lotus wouldn’t have been able to compete against their full product line, it makes sense that focusing on just high performance cars would be the correct strategy, and you could argue that even a first year business school student could have figured that out. Now executing that strategy – well, that’s another thing entirely.

    Reply
  11. CJinSD

    Speaking of Lotus cooking the books, it seems entirely possible that they weren’t making money in Chapman’s day through the same technique. When he died, there was quite a bit of interest being expressed about where various government grants for DeLorean development had vanished off to.

    Reply
  12. VTNoah

    Congrats on the new ride Jack. I started out on a DJ bike back in 2002 or so. Specialized P2 with some Maxxis Hookworms on it. Moved up to a Geekhouse SG1 with a Marzocchi DJ3, Profile cranks, hubs, etc and a nice set of Atomlab wheels. I eventually dropped that and moved over to a DK four pack to try out “true” BMX and quickly got my ass handed to me. You’re right, a DJ bike definitely is more forgiving. Haven’t ridden trails or park in more than a few years because of it but this is giving me the itch.

    Reply
  13. Sumatraguy

    Deadweight your an interesting character. Your obviously highly intelligent and quite well read. I appreciate that and find your musings oddly delightful. I’m always somewhat intrigued the way you bash after Jack and Mark. There really does seem to be a bit of a fixation factor. At the end of the day, if Jack is paying his bills, providing for his family (financially, emotionally, morally, and even spiritually) then what business is it of yours how he chooses to spend his money? Isn’t that part of what makes this country great? That we get to choose how we wish to spend our earnings and our time. Also, it is his website so he get’s to choose what he wishes to write about, just as we get to choose whether to read it or not, and respond to such writings. In regards to your post about satisfactory return (emotionally) in regards to income, I’m right there with you. The “stuff” factor only goes so far and frankly the hit on the return dissipates fairly quickly. Ecclesiastes speaks volumes to the vanities of man and his ideological pursuits apart from the recognition of something greater than himself. Finally Deadweight I’ll leave you with this. Consider dropping the homosexual sexual referencing when your offering up a critique. It does nothing to solidify the merit of your points being made and colors your musings in such a way as to portray your character as nothing more than a petulant, juvenile boy fixated on homosexual pornographic imagery. Surely at this stage of your life your more than that (I sincerely hope). Regardless, despite a fair bit of blustering from you I often like what you have to say. With that I’ll bid adieu.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.