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I bought wide bars: and I f-ing love it

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(Extra)wide handlebars have become a bit of a contentious issue in the world of bmx. The “old dawgs” are adamant that it’s a fad, and the new kids are adamant (see I like that word… hint: ADAMant) that it makes riding more fun and tricks easier. I just bought the widest bars around, and here’s my lowdown.

First of all, let me just clarify: I’ve been riding bmx for 2 or 3 years now, and went from running 23″ bars, then a year ago I bought some 25″ bars. I’m also not one to buy bmx parts to look “trendy”. I can’t do any trendy tricks, and I think the image looks a bit gay anyways. And o yeah, I’m 5’11 (ish).

I just bought a S&M Grand Slam handlebar. 29″ wide, and 8.25″ rise … and I f-ing love it.

Why 29″ wide and 8.25″ rise bars actually make sense for me

First of all, the rise. Lots of bars nowadays come in 8.25″ rise, with 8″ being the standard rise. I run no headset spacers and I also run a front-load stem (just because it was cheaper and looks more aesthetic). Sooooooo, the 8.25″ rise actually fits me really nicely – despite everyone saying you need to be 6ft something to run high bars. The extra rise also makes nose manual and foot-jam tricks easier too. I’m sure manuals are easier as well, although the angle you run the bars probably makes a bigger difference. I could do some maths to prove it. But I just can’t be assssssssed.

And the width. Most importantly, it feels nicer – just like brakeless feels nicer. It’s hard to explain, but riding just feels “nicer” with wide bars. I ride cause it’s fun, NOT because I want to do a bazillion tailwhips. So, I honestly don’t care if 27″ bars make tailwhips or tables or x-ups easier. Regardless, there are actually logical benefits to wide bars. Stability for one. Leverage for another. The stability is commonly stated as a reason for wide bars, but leverage tends to get forgotten. Try hop 3-ing with 23″ bars, and then hop 3-ing a 29″ pair… Trust me, wide bars are an awful lot easier. Because its easier, it means you can do these tricks with less effort, and THAT makes it more fun. It’s the same principle as to why riding lightweight bmxs are more fun than heavy ones.

And finally, I run a long toptube and super long chainstays (21″ tt and 14.5″(ish) cs). This makes bigger bars more in proportion to the rest of the bike. I certainly wouldn’t have got the Grand Slams if I had a 20″ tt and 13.25″ cs. I would have probably gone for the standard 8″ rise and 28″ width. Why do I run such a retarded frame geo? I got a sweet deal on the frame :). And it kind of makes sense as I have 2 mountain bikes as well.


I had originally intended this blog post to be super analytical, precisely explaining why wide bars are better: but as you have probably gathered, I got a bit lazy and just rambled a stream of conciousness… It’s not like it’s the first time it’s happened eh?



Written by Adam Pollard

September 18, 2009 at 8:24 pm

Posted in BMX, Thoughts

Non-concordant Synergy

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Isn’t it strange how it costs more to build up a bike, when buying parts separately? Strange because they have no value to you unassembled. The bicycle is a perfect example of Synergy to me – yet there exists a lack of concordance.

Thatz whack!

Written by Adam Pollard

September 10, 2009 at 7:42 pm

Posted in Thoughts

I wish I was him

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I wrote this short essay a while back. It was originally going to be one of my essays for US uni application – but now I’m off to Cambridge soon, and it’s lying around a bit redundant. It’s extreme sport related, and I kind of like it, so on the blog it goes :).

Pictures are reminders of what a good time we’d be having, if we weren’t so busy taking pictures”, my friend would say whenever we stopped to take photos. It wasn’t that he didn’t like the images; he really enjoyed them actually. He would regularly see photos in magazines and say, “I wish I was him”. However, the process of taking photos can be tiresome, and he just wanted to carry on enjoying himself.

This paradox in action sport photography has crossed my mind many times while standing at the top of an ineffably perfect bike trail or ski run. As an avid photographer I would want to document the experience, to show everyone the beauty of the area we were in, the run I had just done, or to record some kind of dangerous stunt someone was doing. Nevertheless, my passion for getting the ‘perfect shot’ is usually curtailed – more often than not by my equally poignant passion for experiencing the euphoric rush that comes from mountain biking, skiing, skateboarding or whatever else it may be.

I’ve spent my life indulging in outdoor pursuits. To this day, I can say without qualm, that nothing ruins a day more than someone with a camera, assiduously making the group stop to take pictures. The sole exception to this is in the case of a big gap or drop that has taken weeks to build. Stunts like this are usually built only in the knowledge that the event will be documented through photos and film.

However, the products of arduously carrying around heavy backpacks and irritating everyone you know are those rare, memorising images that inspire and motivate. The image alone is enough to get you out in the rain building that ultimate line, or to get you hiking that secret backcountry powder stash you’ve been meaning to for seasons.

So, next time you find yourself at the top of one those perfect runs, in a verdant forest or snowy nirvana, take a moment to remember those photographers who gave you the motivation you needed to get out there in the first place. I’m sure if they could see you, they’d be thinking only one thing…”I wish I was him”.

Written by Adam Pollard

September 2, 2009 at 6:29 pm

Posted in Thoughts

8 Short Thoughts

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I’ve been on a bit of a break from blogging. I’ve been working quite a bit, and all my free time has been spent either with my amazing girlfriend, or down the trails digging and riding :). 8 short thoughts…

  • I bought an iPhone … definitely lived up to the hype :).
  • I’ve been toying with RSS feeds on my iPhone … haven’t decided whether or not they are a good idea.
  • I’m officially going to be studying at Cambridge for the next few years … STOKED!
  • Podcasts and Audiobooks are amazing – perfect for when one is digging or on long journeys.
  • Facebook and Google are set to take over the world.
  • Why can’t people accept that buying Apple products for the aesthetics is perfectly acceptable. Tech-whores may love open-source, good value tech, but most of us would rather pay more for a nicer looking, nicer feeling, and more-fun-to-use (yes that is staying hyphenated) product.
  • Tailwhips are 95% technique, 5% balls … it’s a shame I spent 6 months learning the technique, but still can’t man up :(.
  • Karl Pilkington is definitely the most interesting person/thing/entity/(round-headed, bald, stupid, manc) in the world :P.

Written by Adam Pollard

August 22, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Posted in Thoughts

7 Things I want in Mountain Bikes:

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1. Internal Gears

Derailleurs are just a hassle. It seems logical to me that gearing should be isolated from the elements. External gearing like derailleurs would make sense if us mountain bikers didn’t ride in the mud … but we do. Internalizing the gearing system would reduce the need for maintenance by a factor bazillion. It could be totally be isolated from rain, mud, grit and grime. The components would just keep on going. If you think about how reliable industrial machinery is, you can start to see how internal gearing would offer a big advantage. By eliminating the problem of mud, etc… the gears wouldn’t need replacing for hundreds of thousands of miles, and they wouldn’t need maintaining for  tens of thousands of miles either. Sure, it’ll be comparatively heavier, but not necessarily significantly heavier, and I would MUCH rather the hassle free nature of internal gears.

2. Solid Disc Wheels

Spoked wheels are a dated technology. They are easier to manufacture, yes, but I’m pretty sure that engineering is capable now of producing decent solid disc wheels. Spokes mean that small buckles can be corrected, but solid disc wheels can be engineered to a greater strength to weight ratio, so you could just simply build a stronger wheel, a wheel that wouldn’t break as easily. Moreover, most of the mass of the mass of spoked wheels is around the rim of the wheel, which gives a very undesirable moment of inertia. The greater the moment of inertia, the greater the “rotating weight”, and thus because disc wheels could be built to a lower moment of inertia, they would “pedal better”.

3. More choice!

I know that it’s unlikely to happen, but I wish that components came in a wider variety of colors and styles. Awesome anodized colors are just awesome. They also sell better too, just look at the latest Spank stuff or the new DMR parts. But not just colors, many components have to settle on a generic “property trade-off”. Usually this is strength-weight, or durability-grip, and I wish that more components came in more varieties. Every rider has their own optimum compromise of strength-weight, etc… and the closer the rider can get to this, the better. I think it just comes down to business at the end of the day – the more varieties, the higher marginal cost. However, I still believe there is a market for very custom parts, and I think it’s something companies should really look into.

4. Less marketing BS

The level of marketing bollocks present in the mountain bike industry today is ridiculous. It’s beyond a joke. I’m fully aware that companies need to sell products and make money, but it’s going well beyond what I think are acceptable levels of marketing crap. How is anyone supposed to make an informed decision when choosing bike parts? Surfing the web doesn’t help. Every website brags about its own special technology, yet doesn’t compare this to its competitors’ technology, or even correctly explain why their respective piece of tech is the best. Magazines don’t help either. Although less subjective than forum reviews, they are still usually just the opinion of one person, and never really of much value. Is there any independent (and reliable!) bike part reviewer?

5. Mud-resistant frame finishing coat

I’m pretty sure something like this must exist. Some kind of final paint coat that helps prevent mud sticking to the frame surface. I don’t mind paying more for this special paint coat, but in muddy conditions I think this could make a big difference. What is the point in shelling out on lightweight components if the first time it rains, you end up with a few pounds of mud on your bike? Racers (especially XCers!) would benefit the most here, but even your average weekend warrior would appreciate it I think too. Think “Bigger Picture”.

6. Even larger pedal platforms

I’ve always loved big bodied pedals. It just feels easier on the foot, hurts less on big landings, and provides greater grip too. It’s one of the reasons I now run Twenty6 Rallye pedals on my big bike. I just can’t stand small, puny pedals. DMR V12s are pretty much the lightest, most reliable, and fairly priced pedal on the market – but they are too small for my feet. After a few big landings my feet hurt… I think pedal platforms could go at least 150% the size of Easton Flatboys. I at least want the choice.

7. Grippier Tyres

Ok, so I don’t quite know how one would produce grippier tyres, but I want them. The grippier the better. There must be a way. Sort it out.

Written by Adam Pollard

June 29, 2009 at 12:02 am

Fame is a mask that eats into the face

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I’m not usually one for poetic quotes. But with the recent news that MJ died, this one couldn’t be more pertinent.

“Fame is a mask that eats into the face”

I don’t know who originally said it, and I don’t even care.

Written by Adam Pollard

June 27, 2009 at 11:49 pm

Posted in Thoughts

Why do a blog?

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Why do a blog then? Honestly, I’m not too sure.

According to the media, everyone does one. Even though, no-one even knows what they are. Running a forum ( and generally being pretty internet savvy, I’ve come across them before. A bit of wiki-surfing, a free evening, and here it is. I decided I should do this blogging thing.

What will I post about? All sorts. Basically, anything and everything I’m interested in. From the latest BMX news, to my project bikes, throw in a few random posts, and back again. Whatever I feel like publishing really. I’m hoping it motivates me to finish all my video editing projects I’ve started, and finish organizing Aperture too. University application stuff has got in the way recently. 

Being a gnar junkie and a bit “special”, people have regularly said they wanted to see what’s in my head. They were being jocular – I know they didn’t really want to see the chaos going inside. Regardless, I guess this blog will have to do.

Check out the “about” page if you don’t know me that well.

Hope y’all like it…


Written by Adam Pollard

March 16, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Posted in Thoughts