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Rocky Mountain and Demo Bikes Sale Starts Tuesday!

The Tuesday after Memorial Day Weekend can be a bit of a buzzkill. After three days of fun in the sun (on a bike), it's back to the grind. Well we've got a few things to make it a TON better.  First, all Rocky Mountain bikes are 15% off! But that ain't it. We're trimming our demo fleet, which means you get a SWEET deal on 2015, 2016 and 2017 demo bikes. 

Get yourself up to 40% off retail on hot demo rigs from Kona and Rocky Mountain. You already know how much we DIG the Hei Hei  and you can grab one for a nice deal. These bikes are in great shape and are carefully tuned-up to make sure it'll feel like new, even if they aren't actually new. 

Below is a list of the bikes up for grabs. Stop by to check the bikes out for yourself! 

2015 Kona Hei Hei. 18"

2016 Kona Hei Hei. M

2016 Kona Hei Hei L

2017. Rocky Mountain Blizzard-10. L

2016 Rocky Mountain Altitude 930 L

2016. Rocky Mountain Instinct 930 M

2016 Rocky Mountain Instinct 950 M

2016 Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt 920 L

15% off ALL Rocky Mountain bikes, and up to 40% off on demos....Tuesday is going to be a darn good day! And yep, we're closed Monday to go shred, too! 

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The Kona Hei Hei Line Up Is Ready To Roll!

It's the time of year where we've got some good miles in and the big one-day adventures are calling! Ready for your biggest day on a mountain bike yet? The Hei Hei gives you the forgiveness you need for rockin' day in the woods. 

Kona does a tremendous job with the Hei Hei line-up, and every year they seem to tweak the spec to make sure there's a Hei Hei for every type of rider. From aluminum to carbon, race-ready to trail-tough, they always mix things up to the point there's an almost hand-picked parts list coming stock on their model choices. 2017 is no different, and with a slew of 100 mile races and weekend rides coming up, it's a great time to take a closer look. 

The base level Hei Hei is all aluminum and features 100mm/120mm travel, perfect for West Michigan. The spec is solid, with a Race Face Aeffect crank and Shimano XT 1x11. It's a bike that really balances race and trail geometry without feeling like it comes up short on either end. 

From there, things get carbon, and there are no fewer than four build specs to choose from. The 'Race' options forgo the dropper post for a lighter option, with the Supreme builds cranking it way past 11 to 12 speed SRAM Eagle. The Hei Hei DL is the best bet for Shimano lovers, coming with XT 1x11 and a Fox Float 34 fork paired with a Float Premium shock. We think this is a great bike for around Grand Rapids, especially if you do more than a few Quadfectas throughout the season. 

Plus, that green is so, so cool. 

For us, the top of the line is the Supreme. It keeps the same 120mm travel fork, but in the shape of the Rock Shox RS-1. Internally routed dropper, WTB's sick Ci31 rims, SRAM Eagle 12 speed in *GOLD*, all on the FUSE suspension platform that's stiff but playful. It's a dream bike, for sure, but after seeing these in person, you really appreciate how much things have changed since the Hei Hei first came out as Merlin titanium, fully rigid 26" rig with canti brakes.

 

 

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Adventure! Into The Wild with James, Chris and Dave

While Nate put on the Short's Brewing MTB  Series opener in Suttons Bay, James led a fearless expedition into the wild with Dave and Chris. 

After a long spring of Adventure Series bikepacking nights, James led our first bikepacking trip of the season. Scheduling anything in May is an adventure in and of itself, but aside from some seasonably chilly nights, it was warm and dry for the three brave explorers. 

Some special propers for Chris T., who showed up and joined in as a first-timer. Mile for mile and pedal stroke for pedal stroke, he was up for anything and made two new friends and brought a spark of eagerness that was greatly appreciated. 

The trip started with 42 miles to the first campsite, taken at an easy pace to open up the legs. After setting everything up, the guys rolled out for another 27 miles of fun, exploring the Hardy Dam and Coolbough Natural Area. It was tough pedaling, but the views and terrain was totally worth it. 

After an evening at the local public house and a night of much-appreciated rest, the guys rolled out on some season roads that went from smooth and fast to deep, soft and sandy. It was a goo mix of 'cross bikes (including a Kona Jake the Snake) and Chris' well-chosen Rocky Mountain Blizzard, which proved a great option for the bushwhacking and sand-crossing of such an adventure.

All in all, over 110 miles of exploration and fun, and three pretty tired but happy dudes! 

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Choose Your Own Adventure: A Busy Week with Central District Cyclery

This week, spring is finally here and we've got a full slate of fun things to do. Choose your own adventure, 'cause there's a ride for every taste. Whether you're looking to race, ride, or bikepack, we've got some killer options for a terrific weekend! 

Thursday night, get your weekend appetizer with our next Adventure Series night! From 7-8pm, join us at the shop as we go over our checklist ahead of the BIG bikepacking adventure of the weekend. James will run you through what to bring, what to wear, and what to pack for your first bikepacking trip. 

That trip leaves the shop Friday, and you can see all the details here. Join for the full trip, one night, or even one leg of the ride! If you have any questions, give us a call at the shop and we can give you the full itinerary and work with you to make sure you get out there and give bikepacking a try! 

Ready to drop the hammer? We're heading north to beautiful Suttons Bay for the first race of the 2017 Short's Brewing MTB Series. The Barrel Roll takes place between the vines of Forty Five North Winery, with a 3 mile World Cup-style lap race that is a blast for riders and a treat for spectators. Nearly the entire lap is in view, and what an incredible view it is from one of the higher points in Leelanau County. The race offers multiple categories ranging from 2 laps to a 5 on a course with almost 300 feet of climbing per circuit! 

The final kick of the 45 Climb! It's STEEP! 

The final kick of the 45 Climb! It's STEEP! 

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CDC Shop Shirts Are IN!

Our shop shirts are in the shop and ready to get on your body! We've have people asking for months, and good news, the 2017 CDC shirt is finally in stock. These are available in store and by order over the phone, so show your CDC pride, wherever you roam. 

The shirt features our classic logo and a casual fit. They really turned out sharp, and the guys at the shop are digging them. 

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Zoic and Funkier Cycling Aparrel: Casual Style, Comfortable Performance

It's finally spring! It might even be safe to put away your winter riding gear and look towards your spring and summer clothes. Things looking a bit worn or dated? Freshen up your kit selection with the new line of Funkier Bike clothing, as well as plenty of options from Zoic

James and the guys have handpicked a selection of pieces that combine fit, function, and a few great price points. Funkier has been making high-end clothing since the 90s, slowly adding more and more cycling-specific lines over the years as they fine-tuned their materials and designs. They've shown a great eye for combining good-looking clothes that meets the demands of cyclists around the world, and we're very excited to have them featured right here in Grand Rapids. 

We can always order in anything you'd like from Funkier, but we brought in a selection of loose fitting and trail-ready jerseys and shorts that are comfortable, especially for mountain biking and bikepacking. Spandex is always going to be an option, but having a few quality baggy pieces is certainly nice for commutes, bike trips, and for looking like less of a geek stopping for coffee after a big day on the trails. 

We also have a big line-up of the classic mountain bike brand of Zoic. They've been making some of the toughest trail apparel around for years, and they've become a go-to for riders in West Michigan. We picked out some shirts and baggy shorts, as well as the all-important liner. Those short liners provide a comfortable pad and a breathable layer that make your baggy shorts just as cool and comfortable as simply wearing bibs. 

Get your fashion fix this weekend, and get the most out of your kit with Zoic and Funkier. 

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Rocky Mountain Demo Weekend UPDATED

Do you like Christmas? Easter? Halloween? The Daytona 500? For bike nuts, a demo day is all of those things wrapped into one, dunked in chocolates and sprinkled with carbon fiber. 

We've got a literal truckload full of awesome. The demo truck is packed with the latest Rocky Mountain rigs for you to enjoy. Test the line-up and see if the bike you've been lusting over lives up to the hype. Here in West Michigan, we're really lucky to have so many trails to ride, and we're making the most of the terrain at Cannonsburg for some thorough testing. 

Due to the copious amounts of rain in the forecast for the weekend, we've moved the demo to Friday from 3-? When will it end? When it's too dark, when you're too tired, or when we're out of beer. Whichever comes first. 

Weather permitting, we'll head back out Saturday from 10-3, but please check with us for official word on the Saturday demo.

You'll need a helmet, pedals, and a form of ID, then you're off on the bike that tickles your fancy. Rocky Mountain's demo truck is currently stocked and loaded with the following bikes:

-Thunderbolt 790 MSL BC

-Element 990 RSL

-Pipeline 750 MSL

-Instinct 990 BC

Stay up to date on all things Demo Weekend here on our Facebook page

Want to check out the demo bikes and the rest of the Rocky Mountain line-up? Here you go! Let us know if you have any questions. 

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Kona Honzo AL: Shred-Ready For Under $2k

You know, you can get a heckuva bike these days for less than a 1998 Subura Legacy Outback. That's a pretty incredible value! 

We're taking a look at the 2017 Kona Honzo AL, the bike that opens up the Honzo line. With the addition of the carbon frames and high-end race specs, it would be easy to skimp on the aluminum options, but Kona always keeps every type of rider in mind. Nothing gets overlooked in the line-up, and certainly not the AL. At $1599, it's tough to beat the value and ride quality of this hot bike. 

That 'AL' is the 6061 aluminum frame you'll find on most of the range, with 29" wheels that rock for most Michigan trails. As Kona mentions, it's a more aggressive, trail-ready geometry than more traditional XC platforms, and the rubber is picked to match. The rig comes with a full 2.4" Maxxis Ardent up front and a 2.25" out back on WTB SX25 rims. 

Kona is totally dedicated to 1x drivetrains, and they sneak a SRAM NX1 setup on at a very competitive price point. Another nice spec is the RaceFace Ride crankset, which has a 32t ring on for now. That's a decent size for most riders, although some may opt to bump up to a 34t for flatter, faster races with less singletrack. (Iceman. We mean for Iceman.) 

There are two other things worth mentioning. The world, it seems, is drifting towards longer travel, and the 120mm RockShox Recon Silver certainly is heading in that direction. With the geometry of the frame (think short stays, long top tube, slacker headtube, and short stem) you're in a good position to make the most of that extra cushion, especially in singletrack. 

Of course, there's the dropper. Once you ride one, you'll get it. To see a KS mechanical dropper at this price point is awesome, and gives riders a chance to improve their descending and bike-handling. It's internally routed, keeps the lines clean, and looks incredible, too. 

We've got just a few of these left in the shop, so swing through and check out the Honzo AL and the rest of the Honzo line-up. 

 

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Our Dream Bike For Paris-Roubaix...

A few weeks ago, as the attentions of the cycling world turned to the hellingen of Flanders and then the legendary pave of Northern France, we mused of the potential of a Kona WorldTour team. Of course, that's not exactly the goal or vibe of the company, although more than a few people pointed out that, like the fun-loving Peter Sagan, professionally roadies could do with a bit more laid-back personalities at the upper level of the sport. 

So if we'll never truly know what a Kona Bicycle Co. WorldTour team would look like, we began to assemble (in our heads, at least) what their bike would be. What would Kona-CDC ride in the cobbled Classics? Let's imagine...

For the frame, we're bringing back the look, feel and performance of classic steel with the Roadhouse. With all the suspension, jelly 'serts, and wild frame designs many bike companies are cobbling (hope you caught that) together, and with their bike weights nearing the 18 and 19 pound range with all of those do-hickeys, why not just use steel? Reynolds 853 is relatively light and provides a buttery smooth ride over rough surfaces. Even the slightly taller head tube lends itself to a more endurance geometry. 


Wheels
Now, let's get dreaming. Discs are totally legal, and our frame is setup to make the most of it. With so many killer options, you'll probably have plenty of opinions, but we're going to go with some wheels we've seen in person and have spent some time with. ENVE's SES 5.6 offers a great balance between aerodynamics, lightweight, and incredible stiffness. ENVE is the official wheel supplier for a WorldTour team already, Team Dimension Data, and the team tends to use similar depths on their rim brake bikes much of the year. The 5.6 would have done us pretty darn well at Paris-Roubaix, where every team, by our count, was on tubulars. We think tubeless clinchers are finally ready for the big stage. 

Cockpit Bits
We'll leave ENVE to the wheels and select some other stuff for the cockpit. Since it's Kona, since it's Central District, and since we love the stuff, we're going for Thomson. We're going with the Masterpiece post, which comes in at just 158 grams. That's about the same as most carbon posts, and less than many, and with so much suppleness in the frame, we can afford a little stiffness in the post. We'll pair that with a 100mm X2 stem, Thomson seat collar, and our favorite drop bars, the Thomson KFC. Yep, we're going carbon on the bars, because they're light, tough, and Katie F'n Compton is a living legend. 

Saddle
This one is tough, but we'll stick with what we know. Sure, it's not a 'road' seat, but if your butt is on it and you're on pavement, voila, now it's a road seat. We're talking about the WTB Volt. Versions of this saddle come branded or unbranded on all sorts of Konas, and we always tell riders to give it a week, even if they don't like it at first. Almost all of them end up sticking with it, and some even upgrade to carbon or titanium railed models down the line. 

Tires
Since we're kind of building this for the cobbles, we're going to give it some rubber to match. Kona nails it with the stock build, actually, with the 2017 Roadhouse coming with our pick, the Schwalbe S-Ones. It's a perfect tire for someone looking to do a bit of everything. It has the same dimpled patterned as its wider brother, the G-One, but slots in between the widest Pro One (a 28) and that G-One, which comes in a 35. At 30, it's a great width for gravel and pavement, and we've ridden it as low as 40psi on loose, sandy gravel and still felt like it was floating over the top. 

Drivetrain
It's 2017, folks. If we're making a rocket ship, we're making it with the best electronics possible, and we have to give SRAM eTap a shot. The wireless components group may not be quite as crisp as Shimano Durace Ace Di2, but the difference in minimal, and with their Hydro levers now available, we love the clean look. For Paris-Roubaix, we're going for a 52/36 with an 11-25 cassette. There's nary a hill between Compiegne and Roubaix, and of course we want something for the sprint on the velodrome...right?

Finishing Touches
We'll opt for Shimano Dura Ace pedals (taped over, because it's a SRAM drivetrain), Elite Ciussi bottle cages, ZIPP Service Course tape (single-wrapped), and a Quarq power meter, just to have something to tell us how hard Paris-Roubaix is. 

Alright, your turn! What's your build on the 2017 Kona Roadhouse?

 

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The Little Things: Getting Picky On Accessories

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Folks in the bike world are notoriously picky, and that shouldn't be a surprise. The industry that gave you guidelines on pedal alignment for pictures of your bike, rules to match your seat and bar tape, and athletes looking for 'marginal gains' are bound to have some pretty strong opinions on things like bottle cages. 

This weekend, getting ready to Barry-Roubaix and knowing full well that every item on bike and person would be tested by rain, grit, mud, and cold, we took a step back and thought about just why some of the things we get so excited about matter so much. Heading into the squalls and harsh conditions, surely there was an element of comfort knowing our meticulously selected things would stand up to the challenge. 

Here are a few of the small things that, we think, add up. 

1. Bottle cages. It's something that you start to get a preference for right about when you lose a bottle on a long, hard day in the saddle. There are several camps; die-hard King Cage fanatics, nostalgic ELITE Ciussi fans, Velocity cage adherents, and plenty of others, too. It's not unusual to walk into your buddy's garage and notice that he's got Whisky C3 carbon cages on his road, mountain, fat and urban bike...because you need to keep your '73 Varsity lightweight. 

2. Bar tape. This one is actually a pretty big deal. If you're spending 62 miles on wet gravel and tossing yourself and your bike over unseen and water-filled potholes, you want as smooth of a ride as possible. We're still fans of good ol' fashioned cork tape. It's easy to install, lasts just long enough to get sick of the color and change it, plus it feels great even after some big miles. There are also plenty of other options, including Lizard Skins, with multiple thicknesses and about as many color options as a bookcase at IKEA. 

3. Tires. This is a tough one. No matter what bike you're on, it's nice to have a few options to meet the demands of different terrain. But everyone still has a go-to that they trust for a wide variety of terrain or conditions. The Schwalbe G-One, for example, gets about 2,000 miles on my gravel bike a year, from late February until spring. You'll also find people that wouldn't imagine running anything but WTB, or Continental, or Panaracer tires. If something works, and works well, you have a hard time getting people to try something else. 

What about you? What are some products you stick with, no matter that?

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The Adventure Series: New Places, Tremendous Stories, Unforgettable Trips

This spring, CDC is rolling out an entire series of shop nights dedicated to the art of bikepacking. Find out about a fun, inclusive, and endless adventurous way to take your bike new places. 

The bike is a vehicle to so many things. From just getting around to world-class racing, somewhere the aspect of adventure tends to get lost in the shuffle. We lead busy, hectic lives, too, and we don't take the time to look at the bicycle as a way to escape the city limits, our daily habits, and our dedication to routine. 

With that in mind, we've put together a couple of nights a month to invite you to the shop, have a beer, and learn with us. We'll go through what can make a bikepacking trip more fun, less stressful, and perhaps a little safer, too. We'll cover what to bring and how to bring, how to find your way, and what to do if things get a little wet and wild with weather. 

Of course, preparation with a chance to put what you've learned into action is pointless. We've earmarked a few weekends that we'll meet up and head out for an overnight ride. Get somewhere new, spend time with wonderful people, and breakaway from the expected routine. Once you're prepared, we think you'll find it's something you absolutely love. 

Head over to shop calendar and look for all the Adventure Series events, starting with March 30's first intro to bikepacking from 7-8pm. After that, we'll spend a few nights preparing ahead of our first overnight from May 13 to May 14. There's also info on the Rocky Mountain Demo days, and plenty more. 

We hope you'll join us on a trip or two! 

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2017 Melting Mann! Mud, Beer, Fun in Vandalia

Well, it was another great edition of Melting Mann! Central District is proud to support the event, and there’s hardly a more charming town to visit than Vandalia. There are some thank you's we need to toss out there, and a few trends we are excited to see! 

If you were there, you know that a soggy week led to some soft road conditions, but that can also make a race like that even more fun. Walking through the parking lot and checking out the start line, there were a lot of diverse bike choices. There were two Kona Wozos in the fat bike class, two Kona Honzos, and plenty of Kona Jakes of various description taking on both the 22 and 32 mile routes. 

We also want to thank all the volunteers who were out in force directing traffic and keeping the racers safe at intersections. There were some vociferous cheering sections, too, which kept even the most tired racers smiling all the way back to downtown Vandalia for their promised beer. The volunteers make any race, and at Melting Mann, they really are a part of the face of the event. Thank you! 

We wouldn’t be bike nerds if we didn’t spot some interesting trends in the gravel scene this morning, either. One big change from 2016 is the amount of dedicated 1x drivetrains on cyclocross and gravel road bikes. Especially in muddy conditions like those we ‘enjoyed’, it eliminates a lot of the risks and issues of the front derailleur. Without a ton of long climbs, that smaller ring didn’t seem very useful anyway. We would say a 40t ring was the size of choice, although we saw as little as a 36t and as big as a 50t on bikes while we walked around the parking lot afterwards. 

With plenty of more gravel races, and so many miles of gravel to explore around Grand Rapids, it’s a great time to tweak your rig or even pick up something new to make the most of your time in the saddle. 

Thanks again to everyone who organized, volunteered, and raced Melting Mann 2017! How’d your race go? Let us know in the comments, or swing by the shop and regale us with your glorious tales.  

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Meet The Crew: Mark Hendershot

Name: Mark Hendershot
Age: I saw Evel Knievel jump the Snake River Canyon.
Job Title: Rodeo Clown
Astrological Sign: Leo
Baggies or Spandex: None

1. What was your first bike? Tell us about it.

Fast!

2. Where is your favorite place to ride in West Michigan?

Whatever trail I'm on at the moment! 

3. What's the one piece of equipment, one tool, or one piece of tech you recommend to everyone?

Pedals.

4. How would you describe Central District Cyclery? What's the vibe like?

It's like a porn show on acid.

5. How long have you been riding bikes? What got you into it?

Age two. The chicks dig bikers.

6. If you could pick any 2017 bike that's out or coming out, what would it be?

Rocky Mountain Suzi Q -90. It's such a sexy rig!

7. Do you have a beard? Why or why not?

No. Why would anyone as handsome as myself want to cover up his face?

8. Favorite beer? (There ARE wrong answers to this)

Root.

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Meet The Crew: James Gunderman, Sales/Mustaches.

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Name: James Gunderman
Age: 33
Job Title: Lead Sales
Astrological Sign: Capricorn
Baggies or Spandex: Spandex all the way

1. What was your first bike? Tell us about it.

Well, I don't remember what my actual first bike was since I was just a wee lad but I do remember what bike got me into cycling. It was a mid 80's Schwinn Worldsport. I stripped it down, repainted it, threw some upgrades on then ride that baby all over for a year before upgrading to a fancier machine. Still have it too.

Although it has changed into my single speed and doesn't see as much as action as it should I'll probably keep it forever.

2. Where is your favorite place to ride in West Michigan?

Pretty much any dirt road I can find. Other than that I thoroughly enjoy the stretch of Leonard between GR and Grand Haven.

3. What's the one piece of equipment, one tool, or one piece of tech you recommend to everyone?

Hand pump. Whether it's CO2 or a manual, never leave home without it. Flats can happen anywhere, anytime and you can generally patch it with just about anything to limp back home but if you don't have a way to put pressure back then you're screwed.

4. How would you describe Central District Cyclery? What's the vibe like?

My take on it is that it's a lot of bike shop in a little space; you're going to get great service without being overwhelmed by product. There's a sense of community there that you just don't find much of these days.

5. How long have you been riding bikes? What got you into it?

Going on 6 now. The sense of freedom that comes with riding is what got me started but after my first race I was completely hooked and the rest is history. 

6. If you could pick any 2017 bike that's out or coming out, what would it be? 

The Kona Sutra LTD we currently have in the window at the shop is really calling my name! 

7. Do you have a beard? Why or why not?

In the winter, yes because it keeps my face nice and warm. The rest of the year I tend to go with just a stache.

8. Favorite beer? (There ARE wrong answers to this) 

I sure am a sucker for espresso. I've been hitting up all the local coffee shops trying to find the best one in town and so far Rowster's has been my favorite.

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Meet The Crew: Alex Voorman, Service Manager.

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There are some new, handsome faces around Central District Cyclery these days, and before things get to hectic with summer, we wanted to take a second to introduce everybody. Our crew are experts in the business, but more importantly, they're just great guys. First up, Service Manager and total Leo, Alex Voorman! 

Name: Alex Voorman
Age: 33 years old
Title: Service Manager
Astrological Sign: Leo
Style: Baggies over top of spandex

1. What was your first bike? Tell us about it. 

My very first bike was a blue and white BMX bike from Montgomery Ward that my parents bought me for my 5th birthday, and I really don't remember much about it.  My first proper, memorable, bike was a 1997 GT Timberline with awesome blue/black flame decals.  In 1998 I got my first suspension fork (a Manitou something or other) with the stipulation that I install it myself.  I don't recall having tools beyond a hacksaw, screwdriver and hammer, but somehow I got it together and rode it for years without dying.  

2. Where is your favorite place to ride in West Michigan?

My favorite trail is Fort Custer, which was the first trail I ever rode and is still my favorite.  It's long, challenging, and has more features than my second favorite, Yankee Springs.  

3. What's the one piece of equipment, one tool, or one piece of tech you recommend to everyone?

A good floor pump is invaluable.  Properly inflating your tires is like remembering to tie your shoes - it's not 100% necessary but not doing it makes things needlessly difficult.  

4. How would you describe Central District Cyclery? What's the vibe like?

I haven't been at CDC for long, and I'm sure my impression will evolve with time, but I've always liked the small shop feel and the diverse clientele that has me working on everything from local commuters and neighborhood bikes to high dollar racers and everything in between.

5. How long have you been riding bikes? What got you into it?

I originally got into cycling as a kid through my dad who is himself a lifelong avid cyclist.  I fell off a bit in college but rediscovered cycling as an adult while living in Chicago, where I discovered that it was far and away the fastest, cheapest way to get around town,  

6. If you could pick any 2017 bike that's out or coming out, what would it be? 

The Kona Unit.  I've got a thing for single speed and plus size tires.  Throw a suspension fork and dropper post on there and you've got a winner.  

7. Do you have a beard? Why or why not?

I do have a beard, both because it's warmer in the winter, and because I'm a walking stereotype of a bike mechanic.  

8. Favorite beer? (There ARE wrong answers to this)

I can't commit to a single favorite beer.  How about favorite brewery?  Shorts is my pick for favorite brewery.  

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Why A Chain Wear Indicator Is The Best Tool You Can Invest In For Cycling

It's one of the most inexpensive, simplest, and useful tools you'll ever find, and yet, too few avid cyclists have one. A chain wear indicator helps you save money by showing you when to replace your chain and increase the life of other components. 

Aside from maybe a rag to wipe your bike down, the humble chain wear indicator is the best investment you can make. Walk into my garage, and you'll find one hanging from a string that's tied around the repair stand. If a bike goes in the rack, it gets checked. Every time. The chain wear indicator gives you two numbers that gauge the wear of your chain. .5 means it's a good time to replace your chain. This is an amount of wear that should allow you to use the same cassette for a while longer, at least, and almost certainly the same chainrings. We've had riders that can get two, three, four or more chains worn with the same cassette, just by staying ahead of wear. A chain is less expensive than a chain and a cassette, and the savings add up. 

The second measurement is .75, which means you may have left it too late. It's definitely time for a chain, but due to the amount of wear on your drivetrain, that fresh new chain may bounce and skip over your old cassette. Your old chain has actually rounded and warped the old cassette, and it's just different enough that shifting may not be crisp, no matter how the bike is tuned up. If it's close on the gauge, some people will try the new chain with the old cassette, especially if they want to wait to replace the cassette ahead of specific event, or if there is rain or bad weather in the next few days. If it's well past .75, we recommend replacing the chain and cassette together the first time and avoiding the headache. 

Using the wear indicator can actually be pretty interesting, and you might even find a mix of components that last long and perform better. On my trusty Kona Private Jake, I went through chains non-stop. Finally, I started actually paying attention to what I was replacing. I found that PC-1130 chains, the least expensive, tended to last only a few weeks of hard, daily riding. Likewise, the PC-1130 cassettes wore out every two chains, even if the chains were replaced on schedule. After some experimentation, I've stuck with nicer Red 22 chains and 1170 chains, and I now get a new cassette every three chains, with each chain lasting much longer due to harder materials. 

Stop by the shop and we'll show you how simple this handy tool is, plus more simple things to check for to make sure your bike is in great shape heading into spring! 

 

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Melting Mann 32 Mile Course Preview

Thanks to Strava, technology, and an active imagination, we're taking you on a preview of the Melting Mann 32 mile route from the comfort of your own home. Because we know you wouldn't be reading this at work. 

Melting Mann kicks off the gravel season on March 19 in Vandalia, Michigan. The race offers two distances, 22 miles and 32 miles, which are nice options for people looking to test their legs just a week out from Barry-Roubaix. The 32 mile route includes nearly 1,500 feet of elevation which is a good measure of climbing prowess, and of course, the 32 mile distance means it's all out from the gun. You can see the entire 32 mile course as a segment here. 

Much of the climbing comes in the middle of the race, between miles 10 and 25. It's more undulation than grinding, and it being West Michigan, there's nothing like an Alpine grade or a string of Belgian hellingen with cobbled 'bergs to tackle. Still, at high speeds, those hills can add up, and the gaps from a potential crosswind in the opening five miles could be well open and tough to cover. 

Last year's winner, Joe Thomas, took the title with an average speed of 20.3mph in a time of 1:37, incredibly quick. His 1,437 feet of elevation gain looks pretty accurate compared to the data from other riders. 

Our segment to watch is Kirk Lake Rd. Lungbuster. The climb comes with just four miles to go and it's the last selection point of the race. It's .6 miles long and averages 3%, with a gain of 102 feet. But it's the pace riders have to keep going over it, nearly 20mph with an average over 16mph to stay in that lead group. 

With the race coming up quick, it's a great weekend to head to Vandalia and give the course a closer look. Be sure to get a hold of us at the shop with any questions, and head to the race site for the finer details. 

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Plus Is More: 27.5+ For Under $1700

Dedicated 29+ and 27.5+ (or B+, if you're down) rigs are becoming more and more popular, and for good reason. More tire means more aggressive cornering, better floatation in sand, more traction when you're out of the saddle and scampering up a climb, and smoother than more traditional 2.25" tire widths on narrower rims. There's been a big gravitation toward plus bikes, and a big part of that is the massive increase in rim and tires options. From in-house brands to components specialists, the options are almost endless on rims, rubber and even what you can do with the bike itself. 

But just as exciting as the options are what that plethora of choice has done to the price points. For a long while, even inexpensive plus wheelsets were at or above $1000. For 2017, the options for complete bikes is only a little bit more, and what you get is a whole lot of bike that will be a whole lot of fun. 

Kona went all in on plus, with options on the famed Honzo and Kahuna framesets to choose from. The Honzo is one of the most talked about, trail-shredding bikes around, and armed with that geometry, the guys at Kona went crazy. Perhaps leaning toward that trail pedigree, they developed a BOOST (148 rear hub) spaced rear end and the slack headtube that made the Honzo so fun, tossed on a 120mm travel fork, and dialed in the rest of the geometry to balance the new wheel size and the beloved ride qualities of the original Honzo. Because the actual diameter of B+ is so close to a 29er, the tweaks are really small, and the characteristic carry-over nicely. 

The 2.8" Schwalbe Nobby Nics seem to be the choice, and Kona does tend to err on the side of shred-ready rather than race ready. The Nics are an aggressive tread, a good option for singletrack lovers and riders that rely on a side knob to keep them out of the trees. For other, more weight conscious riders, something like Schwalbe's Rocket Ron in a Liteskin will save few grams, but still offer a predictable and grippy tread. 

The Big Honzo is a smart mix of SRAM's GX and NX component groups, so it's always going to be 1x11. The stock 30t might be a touch light for West Michigan, but it's a good chance to grab yourself a Wolf Tooth or Absolute Black oval ring in a 32t or 34t. And yes, it comes with a dropper post. Because they're awesome. 

2017 Kona Big Honzo...with a drappah! 

2017 Kona Big Honzo...with a drappah! 

Of course, that 120mm fork might be a bit much for you, and that's where the Kahuna comes roaring into play. The Big Kahuna is asimilar story; take a proven and tested geometry, just tweak it to account for the subtle difference in tires, and then toss that 100mm, race-ready fork on the front to take the worst of the trail off the ride. We've spent some time, and the added volume of a wide tire does help with some vibration reduction, although it's certainly no substitute for true suspension. A shorter travel fork like the 100mm, combined with that 2.8" tire at correct trail pressure (think 9-12psi for a 150 pound rider) and you've got a stable, fast rig that would punch you in the throat. 

The Big Kahuna does come with a 2x10 Deore drivetrain, and there are certainly some people that will drop it pretty quickly to a 1x10. We say go for it, and hey, maybe upgrade to a dropper seat post, because at $1399, it's ready to go off the floor, but what's the fun in that? 

 

One of the very cool things about how Kona went about their plus bikes is how they present and spec the bikes. They don't treat them as some exotic, strange, otherworldly new thing that's foreign. Essentially, the plus bikes in the Kona line-up are just different builds of proven bikes in the Honzo and Kahuna line-up, right there as options next to the Honzo AL/DL or Carbon Trail. They're another choice for another kind of rider, or another kind of ride. There's a lot of credibility in that, and we really dig it. 

 

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Mark's 2017 Kona WoZo Review

Our own Mark Hendershot (yes, THE Mark Hendershot) has been putting Kona's new WoZo through the paces! See the bike, the build, and the feedback after some seriously fun miles in West Michigan. 

I’ve been testing the 2017 Kona WoZo (tubeless version) on the trails and beaches of West Michigan since early fall. My mind has been blown away!

My name is Mark F Hendershot and I have been riding bikes for a long time. Riding for Santa Cruz as a member of the OG Syndicate Team, I was the 24 hour soloist specialist wacko for several years. I’ve lodged many hours in the saddle! I have performed a ton of product testing. I am currently employed at Central District Cyclery in Grand Rapids Michigan.

The Kona WoZo is a fun bike to ride! It’s the step-father of the Kona Honzo, Kona’s trail and race ready 29er.  This machine handles like a full suspension bike without all the maintenance issues and weight associated with it. The Wozo is a four season vehicle that has been called a quiver killer. It truly is the jack-of-all trades cycle. After a lengthy test ride period, I think they’re right. I would be thrilled to only have the WoZo in my fleet.

First, the build. The 7005 Aluminum WoZo comes with a 100mm Bluto fork. The front and rear tires are 4.8 and 4.0 Schawalbe Jumbo Jim’s respectively. The Sun Ringle MuleFut rims and Jumbo Jim rubber easily sets up as tubeless. This rig has a very capable mix of SRAM NX/GX 1x11 components. The WoZo has external/internal dropper post ready mounts. The clever folks at the Kona shop equipped it with sliding dropouts that can be adjusted to as short as 420mm to make it extremely playful, accept a vast array of tire sizes, or in a pinch it could be set up as a single speed. Every little detail is thoroughly throughout and ergonomically planned, and works well together.

The conditions in my neck of the woods tend to be on the sandy side of things. Some trails can get rather muddy with roots and rocks just to keep you on your toes. The vast majority of trails in West Michigan throw a mix of things at you; tight, twisty stuff with short steep climbs and some fast, wide-open sections, too. Between seasons it’s not uncommon to find messy, slushy ground cover. We average around 75 inches of snow per year. Typically we have a few meltdowns throughout the winter, which causes sloppy, icy, downright disgusting terrain. I’ve not had to make a single adjustment and it still handles like it did out of the box.

The WoZo is defiantly a confidence-inspiring ride. It has made me a better rider. The one aspect of the WoZo that separates from other fat bikes is its aggressive geometry. It climbs like quickly and responds to power like a dream, and it descends like a jackalope. I was able to clear tricky lines that I hadn’t been able to on other bicycles. The Bluto’s small bump compliance paired with 4.8 Jumbo Jim is unmatched. The WoZo handles like a dream in the deep snow. It goes where I point it to, no questions asked. I was extremely impressed with how it handled the messy conditions. It tracked better than anything I’ve ridden. The Schwalbe Jumbo Jim Tires look like a three season tire, but I was amazed at how well it handled the white stuff. They felt like they were made of Velcro. It tackles the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan like a monster truck. It just plows through anything you put in its way.

The 2017 Kona WoZo has left me in a state of bliss. The nimble gazelle-like ride puts a perma-grin on my mug! I would highly recommend putting your tush on the $2,399 WoZo providing you can find one.


For more information go to http://konaworld.com/wozo.cfm

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