The poor 12 Days of Christmas…

I feel bad for that trite old rhyme. Everyone is sending you a gift list that uses the 12 Days theme. No one gets 12 presents anymore. That was back in the day before Amazon.

Here’s a list of things that Diane and I can’t live without on our bikes, and a little reason why. A few times in the last week I have been reminded that you folks who are fans of Bryson City Bicycles really appreciate that we “don’t give no guff” and tell it like it is on bike parts. So, here is a list of cool toys that Diane and I suggest and use:

Raceface carbon handlebars. We were both against carbon bars forever. With a really good reason in our heads. We didn’t want to crash and snap a carbon bar. That would really hurt the wallet along with some random bodypart, right? Fahgedabadit! Raceface is making their super strong bars that are so strong they are probably just as likely to break as a metal bar. Plus, the benefit of taking the last little bit of vibration out of your hands is so worth it. I found this out after riding my bike with the new bars, then going back to another bike with aluminum bars on the same trail. The difference is amazing.

A’me heated grips Diane swears by these things. She won’t ride on days when the temp outside is below 50 degrees. Unless she has these grips on the bike. These things are great. Don’t tell her, but I snuck them out on my bike a couple of times, too. Simply replace their non-heated brothers and slide the new ones one, strap the battery pack to the frame (it’s little and unobtrusive) and GO. Warm hands are wonderful. They now have them for road bikes, and I did an install of these not long ago. You can set them up on a road bike on the drops or on the tops, so you can have warmth at the right spots.

SRAM XX1 drivetrain. Ok, this stuff isn’t on my personal bike yet, but it’s on the Niner RIP 9 demo bike a the shop. It’s different. It’s weird. But, it’s wonderful. Most of us ride in the middle ring of our triples. Some of us ride in the big ring of our doubles. Occasionally, we all ride in the granny gear. But wait, the XX1 doesn’t have a front shifter! That’s ok. The 11 cogs on the rear wheel of the bike are all you need. Why? While it is tough to say without getting into gear inches, you are able to move the chain around the gears at the same rate as your granny gear without sacrificing the pedaling umpf of your middle ring. You create more torque in your middle ring than you do in the granny gear, but the 42T cog on the back turns the wheel at a rate similar to dropping into the granny. It’s a huge advantage to be able to use the same cadence of the 32T chainring and turn the back wheel around at a high rate of speed. So, you go up hills you probably didn’t succeed at in the past. And, really, most of us don’t ride in our big ring. But, for you top end junkies, there is a 10T cog so create some serious jam on the flats and downhills. The only problem is that your left thumb is going to get lonely. So get a bell.

Crank Brothers Candys Everyone needs pedals. And this is a huge can of worms. Everyone loves their current pedals. And pedals break. Frequently for some. It used to a running joke among CB owners that you had to have two pairs, one in the shop being repaired, and one on the bike. Those guys fixed that. My current pair hasn’t given me any problems for the last two years; since the redesign most folks haven’t had any issues. But, still, the CB guys do an amazing job of repair work when it is needed. Diane and I use them because we don’t like to fiddle with stuff. No adjusting screws anywhere on the pedals. They are super easy to use, and to get comfortable with. The cleat has the “adjustment” on it, as the edges are cut in different ways to make it easier or more difficult to get out of. They have built in float so your knees will love you at the end of the ride (float is how much your feet can move around without knocking your cleat out of the pedal). They come in 4 different versions from cheap to stupid expensive. The $60 versions come in lots of colors, and are low dollar enough that you can toss them out when you change the colors on your bike.

It’s Christmastime!

Time for those last minute gifts and ideas for gifts. Check out the Spokey Speaks page to see what Andy and Diane are riding and the things they can’t live without on the bike. This is an unabashed listing of cool things that make “the cut”. Great parts and accessories you gotta have.

Things in stock that your favorite rider needs:
Kazam balance bikes
Spokiz glasses
Kali helmets
BikeRay USA headlights
Osprey packs

Maybe a Bryson City Bicycles gift card? Any demonination, good for the entire 2014 cycling year, any products. Good and easy.

We have all these in stock and ready to go. Can’t make it to the shop? No worries, we’ll match the deal on the website and send them along! We’re cool like that.

What’s on sale???

Here’s a list of what we have in stock that is on sale right now! This list shows highlights, this is not everything we have on sale. If you want the really good stuff, you have to come on in!

61cm Rove (gravel grinder) was $1699, now $1299

L Rip 9 AL XX1 was $5399, now $4150
L Air 9 Carbon and RDO fork set up as singlespeed– 18lbs!!! $3199
S Jet 9 Carbon frame with CTD Fox shock was $2599, now $2100

Diane’s review of the Niner!

My Niner Maiden Voyageby Diane Cutler, Bryson City Bicycles

After two years of me saying I didn’t need a 29er because I didn’t have confidence to ride the kind of trails that required one, and Andy retorting that if I rode a 29er, it would give me the confidence, I finally bit the bullet. As a brand new Niner dealer, I test rode a few options and decided on the gorgeous and responsive Jet9. I’m 5’4” and could probably have gone with either a small or a medium, but because of my long torso and gorilla arms, I felt more comfortable with the stretch on the medium.

So with a group of nine fun-loving MTBers (4 of us on Niners) we set out to Bent Creek on a beautiful, almost 60 degree November afternoon. First we climbed, and baby, can this bike climb; zippy and stiff, the pedals spun with more ease than my 26” full suspension ever did. Then we climbed steep, twisty, rooty, rocky singletrack. YIKES…this is where I usually bail. But the Jet9 ate the roots even at slow speeds and handled the climbing better than my lungs.

Resting at the top, I absorbed the pep talk from my reckless downhill junkie companions telling me “the bike will do all the work if you just hold on”. So down we all went. And they were right. The Jet9 was nimble and graceful, devouring the drops, rocks and roots like a monster truck. My job was to steer clear of trees which I did with aplomb and I arrived at the bottom in one piece with a huge smile on my face.

Please understand I have not a single bad word to say about my old 26” full suspension friend… I loved that old bike, but my new Niner is a game changer for me, opening trails that I would never have dared to try.


4.5x4 ad tsaliDEMOday
Make certain you are in Bryson City on Saturday, the 4th of May. We will have the Niner Demo van on site, along with a nice selection of Scott bikes for you to ride. Ever wonder what a Jet 9 RDO rides like? Want to see if your next bike should be a Scott Genius 27.5? As an exclusive, you can also ride the RIP 9 RDO and the all new RIP 9 aluminum bikes as well. See what 4 years of innovation has brought to the Niner 5 inch travel bike. Maybe the SIR 9 steel single speed?

Special deals will be available.

Make sure you also stick around for a special evening with libations from Oskar Blues and a yummy dinner at Nantahala Village after the riding as finished.

Dear IMBA Chapter and Club Leaders,
Jenn Dice here, IMBA Government Affairs Director. I am writing to bring your attention to the href=”” target=”_blank”>super important alert that we sent your chapter or club earlier today.

The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is in danger of being eliminated, and it is the single greatest funding source for trail development across the country.

If mountain bikers don’t call to support continuing RTP — which has funded 15,000 trail projects — the program will be eliminated.

I am asking you to take this alert and, if appropriate, post it on your website or Facebook page, and send it to your individual members asking them to call or email your U.S. Senators and Representatives.

The email we sent makes this easy; the phone number and a sample script are included. If you know of a trail project touched by the Recreational Trails Program in your state, please make sure to include it in your message, too.

You have probably received a few alerts from other bicycling groups during the last few days. It may be confusing and we stand ready to answer any questions you might have.

Bottom line, RTP represents a lot of money for our sport — $85 million a year. If it disappears, we will lose trails.
IMBA is one of the few national groups working to protect RTP funding, hence my request that you take our alert and forward it to your entire community.

Thanks for doing what you can to save dedicated funding for this vital program.

All my best,

Welcome 2014 Kahuna!

The return of the king! The 2014 Kahuna will no doubt be at the top of Bicycling Magazines Value Hardtail 29er catagory at the end of the year for the 3rd straight year. All that amazing geometry, racelight aluminum, a great parts spec, and you can rent it from us! All Shimano running gear and the Rockshox XC32 coil shock. Lighter, faster, and just as strong as ever. The orange powdercoating makes for a durable finish that is lighter than regular aint.

Come ride Tsali, again for the first time!

The popular Tsali Recreation Area has long been a top destination for mountain biking in Western North Carolina, and even the entire eastern US. Containing nearly 40 miles of trails in a system with four excellent loops, it has been rated as one of the top 10 places to ride in the USA. The area is located on a hilly peninsula reaching into beautiful Fontana Lake, at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains. The four long main trails at Tsali wind along the lake shore and onto the wooded, steep interior ridges. There are several connector trails, gravel roads and extension trails that give a few more options for rides besides the main loops. Three designated overlooks along the trails provide sweeping views of Fontana Lake with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the other side. The trails are fast, hardpacked singletrack, and they’re extremely well designed and well used. Trails alternate use between mountain bikers and horseback riders on different days; two will always be open to mountain biking. There is a $2.00 trail use fee for one day.

Tsali’s jumping off point is the end of FR 1286, where the trailhead, campground, and boat launch are located. See below for directions to the trailhead.

“Tsali” is the name of a Cherokee Indian man who gave his life so that some of his people could stay in the Great Smoky Mountains region. In 1838, during the US government-ordered removal of the Cherokee nation to Oklahoma, Tsali and several others managed to escape the brutality and hide in the mountains. In an agreement to let some of the Cherokee stay, he, his oldest son, and his brother-in-law volunteered themselves as sacrifices for their people. They were executed and buried a community that is now under the waters of Fontana Lake. Tsali was survived by his wife and youngest son. They, and over 1000 others who had hidden in the mountains, returned to their homes and were finally allowed to remain. Generations later, their descendents form the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indian, some of whom live on the Qualla Boundary reservation in the town of Cherokee and in the surrounding region today.

Tsali can indeed be quite crowded on summer weekends. In fact, a lot of locals will tell you it’s just too crowded to even ride here. Don’t let this deter you, however, if you can only visit on a weekend. The parking lot will probably be pretty full. But actually finding a place to park is usually not a problem unless there’s an event such as a race going on. While on the trails, you might encounter other riders frequently – so keep that in mind as you pick up speed. Despite this, the trails are hardly ever so crowded that you can’t find seclusion. On a recent Sunday hike on Left Loop, I walked 2.5 miles without seeing a single mountain biker, though the parking lot was nearly full. Even on the most crowded days, you can often ride for miles without seeing anyone else. To avoid the crowds entirely, try to visit during the week.

Yes, hiking is allowed on all the trails on any day – but bring your bike unless you want to roast in the hot sun like I did in August 2007 without the breeze you get as you cruise down the trail on two wheels. It bears mentioning that the trails at Tsali can be open and sunny. The area is also at a relatively low elevation, and large clearcuts along with open, treeless expanses along the rocky lake shore can make for some truly miserable heat during the summer. Bring plenty of water here and watch for signs of heat exhaustion. If you’re like me, you won’t be able to resist a dip in cold, clear Fontana Lake at some point during or after your ride.

Content borrowed from

A missed ride

Another day passes, and I haven’t been on the bike. Been two weeks, I’d bet. Oh, I’ve ridden a couple of bikes around the parking lot of the shop, but the “weapon” hasn’t been out of its stand.

I’m kinda bumming about it. I hate having a nice bike, and I love the joy of riding. But the weather, my hyper-extended thumb, a couple of broken ribs, and work has gotten in the way. Unlike Scott Baste, I couldn’t muster the strength and frosty footed fortitude to get the bike out for a spin.

I did go to the shop today, and when I came back, I brought some flat BMX pedals and an air pump so I could make it ready. The air pump was necessary since Bern Peters left the air out of the front tire. I figured that if I had the parts, maybe I could find the will. No way.

Oh yeah- there is 6 inches or more snow out there. Would have been fun. Or maybe not. The snow can drive your drivetrain batty.

But, this week we get to see a warm up in the weather. So, later this week we should be done with the snow and maybe it will dry out enough to get out and take a spin. Maybe just up Deep Creek and Indian Creek. The climb will do me good. Maybe I’ll drive out to Tsali and recheck the trail damage done by the weather. Maybe I’ll just ride the bike to the shop instead of driving. I just heard that gas will be $4 a gallon this spring.

Regardless, I really miss being on the bike. Just the flow of zipping along, the numbing of the mind as I spring along trails I know so well. I love to push the threshold to the edge and get that buzz in the head and keep the cranks turning.

Some day soon.