2013 Intense Carbine SL – 17.5″

OK, I think I have a sickness. I’m addicted to bikes! The Carbine SL was always at the top of my list, but the price was just outrageous. $2800 for the frame alone. That’s just crazy talk! But when I heard that Intense was closing them out at $1599, well, I had to consider it.

Even though I just bought the Felt Virtue LTD in May, and was relatively happy with, I knew deep down that I had to have this frame. Fast-forward a few weeks later and here it is.

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It’s a pretty sweet frame indeed. The matte carbon finish looks really stealth and the red accents are a nice touch. I added in the bling red Chris King Inset headset to top it off. The cockpit carried over from the Virtue, but along the way I upgraded to these superlight, but supertough Ritchey Superlogic carbon hoops with DT240s hubs. I also managed to find the Dual Position version of the Revelation World Cup fork, in Keronite grey no less. The “2P-Air” allows on-the-fly travel adjustment from 120/150mm; great for dropping the front end on climbs.

The best part? I dropped over a pound vs. the Virtue with the same build. Total build weight is just under 23lbs! With pedals! 22.96 to be exact. Woot!

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This is my first experience riding the VPP suspension design. Honestly, it looks a lot like DW-Link and even Felt’s Equilink to me. But right away I noticed the rear was much more plush, similar to how Trek’s ABP felt to me. With Felt’s Equilink, I left the platform full open all the time and never fiddled with changing it for climbs. With VPP I’m back to flipping the platform to “Trail” or “Climb” settings. Not a huge issue, but I can tell that the design isn’t as well-suited to climbs when compared to Felt’s Equilink.

Overall, though, the plushness makes for a better ride than the Virtue. I feel like the trail seems smoother and quieter. The Carbine seems to just float over the bumps. With the Virtue, the rear was so stiff that it felt like the platform was always set to firm. And by stiff I mean that it didn’t feel very active, especially on the smaller hits.

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Anyway, only 2 rides on this bad boy so far and I’m digging it. But one other bike is also on the radar: The SL’s bigger brother, the Carbine (non-SL).

The standard Carbine has a different rear triangle than the SL, and it features the ability to swap the rear dropouts to accommodate the latest craze: 27.5" wheels!

It also adds about half a pound frame weight, but when the bike is only 23lbs to begin with, what’s half a pound? I must say my eyes are open for one of those to come up at the right price…

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How to find out the Best Offer accepted price in an eBay auction

Ever wondered what price a seller accepted a Best Offer at on eBay?

Well, if you use a desktop browser to view past auctions, eBay won’t show it to you. eBay simply lists the original selling price with a slash through it and a message “Best Offer Accepted”.

But I stumbled on a way to see the prices. All you need is your smartphone and the eBay app.

Just do a search for your item in the app, then Refine the search to view Sold Items only, which will then show you the past auctions.

Voila!, the Best Offer prices that were accepted are now shown and you can make or adjust your offer using that information.

Hopefully this doesn’t become common knowledge so eBay can fix this “bug”…so keep it to yourselves!

2000 Dekerf Team SL

I had one of these on my eBay watch list for years now and I don’t think I’ve seen more than one come up if that. This one was in my size and the price was right: only $600 for a complete bike.

The bike was very well used indeed and it shows. The frame’s paint is chipped and flaked off in many places. The bike included a nice Chris King classic wheelset (but hurting for a cleaning/rebuild!), a much-too-long 120mm Marzocchi Bomber ETA Pro fork, Chris King headset, and XT/XTR 8spd drivetrain. Do the math and this BuyItNow was a no brainer.

Before:

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Anyway, I sold off the parts I didn’t want or need and actually made a small profit, ending up with the frame and a few other parts for free. Heh. I then swapped parts over from my (now sold) Bonty and here’s what we have now:

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Being a 2000 yr frame, the geometry is capable of taking a 100mm fork. The fork is from the Xizang build and I took the spacer out to bring it back out to 100mm travel. I’m considering sending it back to Dekerf for a repaint and to also have disc tabs/routing added to the frame. The barrier is the cost: with cross-border fees and duties on top of the labor, it may be upwards of $600 or more! Is it worth it? Dekerf’s Team SST frameset goes for $2100, and that’s basically the same frame in every way. So for $600 or so I could have essentially a brand-spankin’ new Dekerf frame with new paint and decals and the modern luxuries of disc brakes.

Hmm, I think I’ve already made my decision… 😉

2012 Felt Virtue LTD

A new bike…

The flavor of the month is this sweet Felt Virtue LTD, Medium 17.5" with full XTR Trail package.

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Currently, I’m trying to downsize my bike collection a bit and having sold off the Trek and the Xizang frame, this popped up and it looked like a good buy. I’d been eyeing these bikes for a few years, ever since they redesigned their frames back in ‘09 I believe.

Anyway, the “LTD” (Limited) is their top offering, with an MSRP of, get this, $9999 (Are you out of your mind??!!). Of course I didn’t pay that much; let’s just say that the sale of the Trek and the Xizang more than covered this one.

The thing that sealed the deal for me was the fact that it was brand new, never ridden, plus it had a full XTR trail spec including wheels. I figured it was worth more in parts alone considering the price I paid.

I took it on its first ride last weekend, after a near 3-month hiatus from riding thanks to devbootcamp and various injuries. That ride was relatively painful and I was only able to hobble along for half the loop. Sucks. But it was still great to get out and I’m looking forward to getting back into a routine again.

The bike performed well. I wish I was in better shape to be able to have a better comparison against the Fuel’s ABP design, but one thing I noticed was that the LTD was much quieter on the rough stuff and the rear felt nearly locked out on the climbs. Felt likes to hype their equilink suspension, but I could care less as long as it works.

Flying Lessons

First of all, man, it’s only been 3 days??!!

Shereef took some time today to talk to us about “empathy”:  the interpersonal skill of interaction between human beings and how important  it is to refine that skill as a developer. Oftentimes projects fail not because of budgets or time constraints, but because the team couldn’t get their act together to pull it off. From experience, I know this is definitely true.

Another part of the empathy concept is to learn to give and receive feedback constructively. Without feedback, we can’t learn. But in today’s world, everyone is so PC, people are afraid to give feedback or worse, don’t know how to handle it and act on it.

A fun part of the presentation was a demonstration of giving and receiving feedback. Our group (“the banana slugs”) were given the task of molding a plane out of Play-Doh, and the rest of the group was to give us feedback ranging from “kind and encouraging” to “highly critical and negative”. I’m happy to say that most of my feedback was positive! 😉

Here’s mine:

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Unlock iPhone 3GS running iOS 6.1 and Downgrade Baseband 6.15.00

OK, the 3GS is a bit dated, but I recently inherited this device from my brother, who I [unsuccessfully] tried to convert to Android with a shiny new Nexus 4. He had been complaining that his 3GS was very slow and wanted the ability to tether to his laptop. He’s on my business plan with T-Mobile, and had been suffering with EDGE-only speeds thus far.

I told him that the best phone available for T-Mobile right now was the Nexus 4, and I went to some great lengths to get him (and myself!) one on launch day. When I got them I promptly rooted them, flashed a custom ROM, and sent it off to him.

After about a month using the Nexus, he aborted and hit the Apple store and bought an unlocked iPhone 5. He’s happy again, and since the iPhone 5 supports DC-HSPA (aka HSPA+ 42), he’s getting the best speeds currently possible on the T-Mobile network.

Anyway, he’s now sent me back the Nexus 4 and his old 3GS to sell off for him. Unfortunately, he unthinkingly tapped the update button on his 3GS and updated to iOS 6.1 and baseband 06.15.00, re-locking his iPhone in the process (he was previously unlocked with the now closed SAM method).

If anyone has ever tinkered with iPhone unlocking and jailbreaking, you know how much of a pain this sort of thing is to deal with. There’s a lot of crap information out there and it’s hard to sort through it all. Well, I’m happy to say that I’ve done the hard work for you and was able to get his 3GS unlocked and activated again. Here’s how:

Initial configuration:

  • iPhone 3GS (old bootrom)
  • iOS 6.1
  • locked to ATT
  • unactivated
  • firmware 06.15.00

Final configuration:

  • iOS 6.1
  • Unlocked to any GSM carrier
  • Activated
  • firmware 5.16.04 (5.13.04)

Step 1: Buy the IMEI Unlock service for $2

First, go to eBay and buy the IMEI unlock for the iPhone. It costs about $2 as of the time of this post. The seller is unlock_fusion. I would link to the actual auction, but it will undoubtedly expire at some point and then the link will be broken anyway. Just use the link above to go to his Store and find it.

Once you buy the service, you will get an email with a link to input your phones IMEI number. Once submitted, it takes anywhere from 2 -12 hours to get the confirmation that your phone has been unlocked.

Step 2: Download the tools and firmware

Download the latest version of Redsn0w:

http://www.iphonehacks.com/download-redsn0w

Download iOS 6.0 firmware for the 3GS:

http://appldnld.apple.com/iOS6/Restore/041-7173.20120919.sDDMh/iPhone2,1_6.0_10A403_Restore.ipsw

Step 3: Downgrade the baseband from 6.15.00 to 5.13.04:

Watch this YouTube video to see how it’s done:

Note: The trick is to use the 6.0 firmware and not the 5.1.1 firmware that most of the tutorials mention (including this video). Using the 5.1.1 firmware will result in an error every time.

Step 4: Unlock and Activate that bastard

Now that your baseband has been downgraded to 5.13.04, the IMEI Unlock will now work (it’s not compatible with the 06.15.00 baseband).

The instructions provided by unlock_fusion had worked fine for my wife’s iPhone 4 several months ago, but I just wasn’t getting the confirmation message in iTunes that the iPhone had been unlocked with the 3GS for some reason. I tried it multiple times and never got it, nor was my T-Mobile SIM recognized.

But on unlock_fusion’s retail website, there are a few other methods to get the unlock confirmation. I’m not sure why they don’t include them all in their eBay instructions, but here’s the method that worked for me. You have to do a FULL restore, meaning restore from iTunes and install the latest iOS, not a restore of your iPhone backup.

This means it will wipe your whole phone. Everything. And when you’re done you will have to reinstall everything again. No big deal to me, since I’m starting from scratch to begin with.

The Restore Method

  1. Eject the SIM tray so it’s not readable by the iPhone
  2. Make sure your iTunes is updated to the latest version
  3. Plug your iPhone into your computer and wait until your iPhone is fully recognized in iTunes.
  4. Click the “Restore” button (not "Restore from backup") and accept the Terms agreement.
  5. Once the restore process has started, insert your non-ATT SIM card into the iPhone.
  6. Wait for the restore process to complete and iPhone to reboot.
  7. Once your iPhone has rebooted, iTunes will Activate your iPhone with your unlock ticket using your non-ATT SIM Card.
  8. You should see a message displayed in iTunes, “Congratulations, your iPhone has been unlocked!” 
  9. Your iPhone is now factory unlocked permanently and you can update freely in the future for newer iOS updates.

Yay! Got the confirmation in iTunes finally! And my T-Mobile SIM works perfectly.

You’ll notice that the baseband was updated to the latest 05.16.04 for the 3GS. Who cares, it’s unlocked now!

It’s Baaaack…’94 GT Xizang in da house!

Update: Sold(!) Again! I am now on a quest to thin the herd and sold the frame and am now parting out the rest of the build…I wanted to sell it as a complete, but got a very persuasive offer at $1200(!), so I couldn’t pass it up. I need to get rid of these parts before…before…something else pops up!

Never say never. After selling my pristine ‘97 Xizang a few months ago, I came across another one on ebay and decided to toss in a winning bid. These frames are always in high demand, so I see it as an investment (my wife would flatly disagree with me of course).

It was a bare frame, and while in good shape, it had lost much of its shine. I read several tips online about polishing it back up, and after a few hours with 2000 grit wet sandpaper, ultra-fine steel wool, numerous metal polishes and finally an orbital polisher, this Xizang got its mojo back.

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Most of the cockpit was swapped from my Bontrager for now. I also swapped out the black lowers of the ‘09 32mm SID Race with a NOS White set. ‘09 lowers with the v-brake bosses are not easy to find these days!

Speaking of v-brakes, one issue I hadn’t anticipated for was the cable routing for the rear brake. Since this is a ‘93 model, it was never designed for v-brakes, and thus does not have the cable stop in the normal v-brake place (the ‘97 model has a stop just before the seat stay tubes vs. in the middle of the triple-triangle of this ‘93 model).

Because of this, I couldn’t get the routing to work very well. Some other owners say to just use full length housing and zip-tie it to the frame, or get a bolt-on cable stop, neither of which I wanted to do.

The solution? Using a normal cable end doesn’t fit into the existing stop, so to get around this, you have to slightly squish the stop (I used a bench vise) to be more ovalized just in the front portion of the cable end, then use a small drill bit to make the now-squished cable hole larger and round again to allow the cable to pass through freely without any binding. This allows the cable housing to seat in the end normally, while the front of the cable end can fit into the frame stop. I should probably take a picture of this to illustrate, huh?…

Now, along with a slightly steeper 110-degree (135?) brake noodle (vs. normal 90-degree one), the routing is perfect and without any friction whatsoever.

Next up, the XTR crankset was set up for 1×9 duty using a Paul Chainkeeper and e13 32t Guide Ring (super nice quality ring!). It looks trick.

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The decals were custom-made…by me. I was never a fan of the elongated “GT” logo, so I decided to try and make my own design in the same spirit of the original Xizang decals. They’re just vinyl decals layered on top of each other to achieve the dual color effect.

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Future planned upgrades include a matching Red Chris King headset, lighter tires, and perhaps a matching WCS White stem.

21.50lbs including pedals.

To become a developer…

I did it. I’m going to Dev Bootcamp!

After submitting my application back in July, and never hearing back, I figured I had been passed over. Turns out the team at DBC was on a little vacay action and finally got back to me a few weeks ago to set up my Skype interview.

I interviewed with the founder, Shereef Bishay. I was a little nervous, but he’s a pretty laid back guy and it went pretty smoothly. He did throw in a little test to make sure I actually had a brain, but the exercise was sort of designed to be a team effort and we were able to solve it together. Phew.

Anyway, I’m on my way to attending the Feb 2013 session! I’m actually looking forward to the yoga – after my bike crash I am feeling all sorts of wound up and I think my body could use a good stretching for once in my life.

Here’s to something new and exciting and scary! Man, life’s a trip…

2008 Specialized Globe Centrum Singlespeed

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I don’t know why, but the first time I saw this bike in Specialized’s catalog, I wanted one. I thought it’s be a cool “city” bike for commuting or whatnot.

I don’t think they sold very many of them, as they killed the design/model after just one year. I think it was Specialized’s reaction to the success of Cannondale’s Bad Boy series of urban bikes.

I got this one off of craigslist a few years ago, and proceeded to swap out the parts as I do with all of my bikes it seems.

Now, the only stock parts left are the headset and brakes! Also, it was originally a 26er…turns out 29″/700c wheels fit just fine with lower-volume tires..

I would say this bike (like the Bad Boy) was actually designed to handle both wheel sizes, as the geometry seems largely unaffected by the increase in wheel size.

  • Chris King 29er ISO disc wheelset, with Stans 355 rims and Specialized 25c Rouxbaix rubber
  • Specialized low-riser bar and seatpost, with Format SL saddle
  • Ritchey WCS stem
  • Truvativ FireX crankset
  • 21.2lbs with pedals

Lastest updates:

  • Shimano hydraulic disc brakeset/levers
  • Swapped in a
  • DiamondBack OEM 29er wheelset (sold the Chris Kings)
  • KS Supernatural Dropper Post with Joplin remote (the 29er wheels make it a bit too tall to put my feet on the ground when stopped; the dropper is a sweet solution!)
  • Kickstand!

Future updates?:

  • I’d like to find an internally geared hub and turn it into a 7 or 8-spd bike. Or maybe find a compatible derailleur hanger, but I don’t think one exists for this frame.

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Latest build 06/17:

The Centrum has become my ‘city’ bike and sits in my office for occasional lunchtime runs, etc. The LEV was pretty unreliable, so I got rid of it and put on a Specialized Command Post instead. I’ve had a couple of those posts and they have never given me any issues.

The bars were swapped out with some FSA Metropolis mustache bars. And for grips I used some old bar tape.

Seems I lost a part of this post with a recent server migration, but I ended up selling the CK wheelset and setting it up with a set of Shimano 650b wheels, which lowers the bike back down a bit.