First things first, we need to get one thing straight: Cane Creek’s proprietary Climb Switch Technology is not a lock-out.
In fact, we’re strongly against a full lock-out, and we’ll explain why below. For now, suffice it to say, if you experience a full lock-out, it will feel like riding a rigid fork, and could be down-right dangerous if you forget to re-open the compression for the descent. That’s why we, and most other suspension manufacturers, tune the closed compression (“lock-out”) damping force so that it only feels really firm, appropriate to the bike it is on, and will “blow off” (or re-engage) when the suspension takes a big hit (like if you forget to re-open the compression). So why do manufacturers and riders use the word “lock-out”? The term connotes a firm force in the compression damping, but it does not denote a fully rigid setting. It’s just a matter of semantics… call it what you want, but we’re going to stick with Climb Switch.
Now that we’ve settled that little issue, what is “Climb Switch” and why do you want it?
What is Climb Switch Technology?
Traditional “climbing modes” (aka what a lot of riders call “lock-out”) only address half of climbing dynamics, requiring the rider’s body to respond to the rest. Climb Switch provides climbing-specific damping in both compression and rebound. The suspension firms significantly, but is still active while you climb, which results in better connection to the trail, more control, and increased efficiency without annoying pedal-bob.
Why Climb Switch?
HELM Works Series 130 is equipped with Climb Switch Technology, seen before on Double Barrel suspension. Why would you want Climb Switch? As alluded above, suspension gives us two things: comfort and better traction & handling. Utilizing suspension in technical climbing is helpful for maintaining traction and not getting jostled around, but too much bobbing can create inefficiency in your pedaling. HELM Works Series 130 allows you many clicks of high speed compression adjustment to tailor the amount of squish you need for your climb, but the final “click” restricts the flow of oil so that the fork has a very firm pedaling platform (and you can leave your low speed compression adjustment alone). Double Barrel Climb Switch works very similarly.
TECH SPEAK: Our Climb Switch Technology is a dedicated compression circuit with completely different internals than the high and low speed compression adjustment on the standard HELM. When you activate the Climb Switch on the HELM Works Series 130 or Double Barrel suspension with a Climb Switch lever, you are completely restricting the flow of oil through the low speed circuit. This prevents the high speed circuit poppet from “blowing off” except under extreme forces (like forgetting to open up your compression on the descent). In essence, it feels really stinkin’ firm.
On the standard HELM, you would have to close both high and low speed compression to mimic the same feel, but it still wouldn’t be as firm as Climb Switch. HELM Works Series 130 is optimized for cross-country and short-travel trail bikes. Climb Switch Technology is a crucial feature for long days in the saddle and optimal performance on climbs and descents alike.
Did you know? Cane Creek has four different sales channels: retail dealers, OEMs, distributors, and eCommerce. Our retail dealers and eCommerce channels are only open within North America, which means we rely heavily on our distributor network to represent the brand globally. Extra UK Ltd. is a long-standing partner who has exclusive distribution rights of Cane Creek products to the UK and Ireland. It’s no small task, but Extra knocks it out of the park.
We caught up with Michael Braybrook, Extra’s Marketing and Events Manager, to discuss Extra’s UK presence as well as their first impressions of the HELM Works Series 130 suspension fork. But first, some background:
Extra UK Ltd. was founded in 1995 by Brian Stewart and John Phillips who still own the business today. The company is a B2B distributor supplying to over 750 bike shops, outdoor and sport retailers in the UK and Ireland. Extra’s partnership with Cane Creek began back in 2001. “As the exclusive UK distributor of Cane Creek, we carry pretty much the entire product range including spares which amounts to almost 700 SKUs! eeWings have been a big hit with UK riders, both for MTB and Road/Gravel use. However, our best-selling product over the last year or so is the DB Coil IL shock, as UK riders look to improve the suspension performance of their bike.”
Today, they also support seven appointed Certified Cane Creek Suspension Service Centres located around the country to help customers with everything from sales to set-up to servicing and spares. These Service Centres, like J-TECH Suspension and Sprung Suspension Workshop, are experts in Cane Creek suspension and are guaranteed to help you get the very best from your Cane Creek products. Cane Creek insists that riders only service their Cane Creek suspension through certified service centers. “Our suspension isn’t like ‘everyone else’s’… for the best performance and best service, you need to have your products serviced by people we’ve trained. They use specialized tools and required equipment, like a vacuum-fill machine, to ensure that your fork or shock is leaving the facility as though it is brand new,” explains Brian Williams, Distributor Sales Coordinator for Cane Creek.
As a distributor, it’s easy to feel disconnected from the end-user, as there are several parties in between. However, Extra has made a point of being highly engaged within their community, showing up at major events throughout their region to connect directly with riders, shop owners, and service technicians. This allows them to keep a finger on the pulse of the industry from the rider’s perspective, something that has undoubtedly contributed to the success of their business. They are able to find out what products rider’s want, not just what products manufacturer’s want to sell. As a result, Extra is able to share this information with our sales and product teams in order to make sure that Cane Creek, and thus Extra, is able to work to stay ahead of the curve.
“I think UK riders appreciate the quality and durability of Cane Creek products as well as the adjustability and performance enhancing features of many products. [As for us,] Cane Creek are great people to deal with, both on a personal and professional level. The products are well thought out, wonderfully engineered and genuinely unique which is really refreshing in an age of lots of me-too product coming from the same vendors with just a different brand name.”
Extra UK Ltd. received one of the very first HELM Works Series 130 suspension forks on the market and took it to the Fort William World Cup. Michael gushes, “The [HELM] WS130 offers the control and stiffness of a long travel Enduro fork in a shorter travel and lighter package which makes it perfect for most UK trail riders. The initial suppleness of the fork right out the box feels identical to the longer travel HELM Coil fork, and it took no time at all to dial in the settings for our preferred style of riding which is fairly typical in the UK.”
While Cane Creek is headquartered in Fletcher, North Carolina, USA, we have a wide global reach thanks to our distributors and industry original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). As a brand, we are particular with the firms we choose to do business with. It’s essential each of our partners has a mission closely resembling our own, as they are, in essence, our most tangible presence within their regions. Extra UK Ltd. is the exclusive Cane Creek distributor for the United Kingdom and Ireland, and we couldn’t be more honored by our 18 year partnership with this highly motivated team.
Extra UK Ltd. is located at Morris Close, Park Farm Industrial Estate, Wellingborough NN8 6XF
Special thanks to Extra UK/Mark Greshon, Michael Braybrook, Andrew Searcy
All photos provided by Extra UK.
Cane Creek’s Senior OEM Sales Manager, TR Maloney, is no stranger to endurance races…
“I am a cyclist and ultra-runner. In the past, I was an Ironman triathlete and even did some track racing. I am currently training for Leadman in beautiful Leadville, Colorado. Leadman is a 5-race event that includes a trail marathon, 50-mile mountain bike race, a 100-mile mountain bike race (the Leadville Trail 100), a 10k run, and a 100-mile run (also the Leadville Trail 100). All of these events take place within a 9-week span and at an altitude of 10,000′ and higher.”
We recently sat down with TR to discuss his training, why he chooses to train with Stages power meter, and whether or not training with power works well for both endurance athletes and for “Joe/Jane Shmoe” (aka the rest of us).
Cane Creek: You train with Stages Power meter – why? Does it help with non-cycling events?
Training for two 100-mile events simultaneously is tricky – especially when they are from two different disciplines (bike & run). I need to teach my body to absorb a lot of workout volume to be able to ride and run silly long distances back to back. This means I am in constant danger of over-training and injury. By working with a coach and a power meter, we can make sure I am working hard enough – AND SMART ENOUGH – on the bike to promote fitness advances while not destroying my legs for the run training. It’s a delicate balance.
CC: How does training with a power meter impact your training, and thus riding/racing?
TR: While the idea of being fed a lot of data can be overwhelming (it was for me at first) it’s a great tool. I work full-time and my training can be a 15-20 hour a week part-time job. I don’t have time to waste on junk miles. My training needs to be specific and with a result. The Stages Power meter keeps me on the path during interval or steady state workouts. I can see the difference in the power numbers and know I am on the right training plan. Before, without a power meter, I was left to rely on heart-rate (HR) and speed. The problem with HR is that, if I am tired, my HR can sit a little higher than usual. If I had a huge coffee before the ride, it can tick up a bit. Just being in a nervous pack of riders can lift my HR, [so it can paint an inaccurate picture]. Likewise, speed is a crazy number to solely rely on for training. One day’s tailwind can be tomorrow’s headwind.
CC: Can you notice a difference when you are quantifying your workouts?
TR: My coach puts me in pretty specific power parameters. It allows me a nice warm up, then I get to work for a couple hours and then cool down. All of this is controlled by watts. My favorite climb is up Highway 64 to the Continental Divide. Earlier in the year I held an average of 250 watts up the climb. Recently I held 284 watts up the same climb. The difference in the two efforts is my targeted training and the 5-pounds I lost, both of which really help when the road points up.
Another feature I pay attention to is the average watts on the two weekly Cane Creek lunch rides. These rides can get really rowdy. Having the Stages Power meter lets me know how much effort I’m adding to the group. I also use the wattage number to not blow my engine. I know what wattage I can lay out and not blow up. As the year progresses I can also figure out how many watts it takes to drop certain friends in the pack.
CC: How would a “newbie” get started with training with a power meter?
TR: What I like about Stages is that it’s a discrete, crank-based meter, and you have the option to go with only one sensor on one crank arm. This saves weight and money while painting a clear picture of your power. While there are plenty of long technical books that will easily put you to sleep, I suggest a basic – crude – approach to start. Go out on a ride and find a mile long hill that’s not too steep (4-5% grade), but enough to get your heart pumping. Ride up the incline at a pace that you think you can hold for 5-minutes. If you can’t catch your breath and you’re rocking your shoulders you are going too hard. The goal is to make this a strong steady effort. Hit the “lap” button at the bottom and again at the top. Keep this data and see how your wattage improves from week to week.
On group rides or training rides you will start to see patterns like being able to hold 180 watts for most of the ride or soon learn that you tire out your legs/lungs trying to hold 290 watts for more than 30-seconds. You really learn you. As you progress, you can start pairing your heart rate and watts and really get into the details of your human engine.
CC: C’mon… is training with a power meter really worth the cost?
TR: Once I put a Stages Power meter on one bike and realized what it did for me, I put Stages power meters on two more bikes. Yes, there is a cost to having this awesome technology. Cycling is evolving and the riders are evolving with the sport. Back in the 90’s I was installing small wireless (non-GPS) computers on bikes. Those were about $29 to get speed/average speed/time and distance. Today, most riders won’t ride without a $250 GPS device and usually carry an $800 phone too!
CC: Any final thoughts?
TR: Cycling makes my life better so I am happy to invest in my equipment. I’ve been in the cycling game for 25-years. In that time I would say the biggest game changers have been power meters, disc brakes and dropper posts. A power meter will really be beneficial if you are tracking your fitness. It’s an investment in your well-being. That’s always money well spent.
For more than two decades, Cane Creek has set the standard for bicycle headsets. By introducing the world to threadless technology, Cane Creek helped redefine modern bicycles; making possible the introduction of suspension forks, shaped head-tubes, carbon steerer tubes and other innovations that continue today. We don’t stop at designing and manufacturing the world’s best headsets. Cane Creek is also committed to providing the resources you need to guide you through the increasingly complex headset landscape. As always, all of our headsets are backed by our unsurpassed commitment to customer service.
“There is so much value and performance packed into this headset. With most of the major features of the 110 – including the Hellbender bearing – at a more accessible price-point, the Hellbender 70 is going to allow more riders to have better quality headsets on their bike. That’s a big win for everyone” – Sam Anderson, Product Manager (to Pinkbike)
Put simply, the Hellbender 70 is designed for abuse. But what really makes it a great headset? It’s all in the bearings. Our Hellbender bearings are made from high quality stainless steel with a higher ball bearing count and housed in a stainless steel cartridge. It’s 40-series ZN40 counterpart is made from bearing grade steel and housed in a steel cartridge with zinc coating. The Hellbender bearing has more durable, robust, and tight sealing and a more viscous grease. What does this mean for you? A longer-lasting, high-quality bearing that will withstand the dirt, sand, grime, sweat, and water that covers your bike ride after ride. But you don’t have to take our word for it… Find out why the pros choose Hellbender 70.
We chatted with three pros running the Hellbender 70 headset to find out how they really feel about premium headsets, why an upgrade is worth it (or not!), and why they trust Hellbender 70 and Cane Creek.
Caroline Washam, Pro DH
1. Hometown? Mooresville, NC, USA 2. Who are your sponsors?SRAM, RockShox, Liv Racing, Industry Nine, Schwalbe, TLD, Flat Tire Defender, Joes No Flats, Fryer Performance, Thunder Huck Bikes 3. What is your favorite trail/where is your favorite place to ride? I love riding anywhere in Western NC! Wilson’s Creek, Dupont, Pisgah…it’s all so good. 4. What do you do when you aren’t racing bicycles? Riding bicycles, teaching other people how to ride bicycles better, and working on content about bicycles! Life doesn’t suck. 5. What do you know about headsets? What’s your opinion on what makes a good headset and what makes a bad headset? I know that on my DH bike, the headset usually requires a ton of maintenance. With all the mud, power washing, and pressure the headset is under racing downhill, I usually have to take my headset apart, clean and regrease pretty often. A good headset stays smooth under pressure with seals that resist abuse. 6. You’ve been riding Hellbender 70 this season… how’s it been going? What do you like? What do you not like? Switching over to the Hellbender from the stock headset this year has been awesome. Even after some of the muddiest racing I have ever done earlier this year (and lots of power washing to clean all that mud off after each run), I didn’t hear that all-to-familiar crunching sound coming from my headset, so I could get more runs before having to perform any maintenance! 7. Why would someone upgrade from a 10-series or 40-series headset to a Hellbender 70? Who is a candidate for a premium headset? Why does it make a difference? If you’re rough on your bikes, ride rough terrain, or just want a headset that’s going to last, the Hellbender 70 is the one! 8. Why Cane Creek? Because Cane Creek creates a top-quality product, they’re a great group of humans, and they do a lot of good for our local MTB community. I couldn’t think of any better reasons to support a company. 9. Anything else? I also run the Cane Creek AngleSet on my dual slalom bike to get slacker head angle for steeper courses with technical turns. It has been one of the most beneficial upgrades to my dual slalom bike for increased performance.
1. Hometown? Wilmington, DE, USA 2. Who are your sponsors?Pivot Cycles, Pearl Izumi, Maxxis, MRP, Julbo, Shimano, 9point8, Deity Components, Leatt Protectives, Stans No Tubes, Evoc, Topeak, Dialed Health, Cane Creek 3. What is your favorite trail/where is your favorite place to ride? Sunshine Coast of BC! 4. What do you do when you aren’t racing bicycles? I don’t race much as it is. Most of what I focus on is content these days. But off the bike I’m focused on parenting like a mofo! 5. What do you know about headsets? What’s your opinion on what makes a good headset and what makes a bad headset? I know that almost everything I do with my upper body while riding is transmitted to the bike via the headset. A good headset needs to have quality bearings, is well sealed, and will can hold up to the rigors of of the elements. 6. You’ve been riding Hellbender 70 this season… how’s it been going? What do you like? What do you not like? It’s been flawless so far. 7. Why would someone upgrade from a 10-series or 40-series headset to a Hellbender 70? Who is a candidate for a premium headset? Why does it make a difference? If you are intent on progressing as a rider, then you have to accept that you will be putting greater stresses on your bike. The more aggressive you are, the more you tend to start putting more down force on the front end, which makes the headset design and quality all the more important. 8. Why Cane Creek? Because the products are top notch, and the people are as well.
1. Hometown? Vernon, NJ, USA 2. Who are your sponsors? Spoke Apparel, Mountain Creek Bike Park, Cane Creek, Shimano, Onyx Racing, Santa Cruz, Boa Technology 3. What is your favorite trail/where is your favorite place to ride? Favorite trail is a tough choice; favorite place to ride would have to be Mountain Creek Bike Park. 4. What do you do when you aren’t racing bicycles? I weld dirt midfield race car chassis 5. What do you know about headsets? What’s your opinion on what makes a good headset and what makes a bad headset? I know good amount about headsets. What makes good headset is quality seals, cups, and bearings. 6. You’ve been riding Hellbender 70 this season… how’s it been going? What do you like? What do you not like? The Hellbender 70 is great! I used to run a 110. So when I got the Hellbender 70 I was amazed by the quality. It’s pretty much on the same level as 110, [but] at a affordable price. 7. Why would someone upgrade from a 10-series or 40-series headset to a Hellbender 70? Who is a candidate for a premium headset? Why does it make a difference? The Hellbender 70 has smoother higher quality bearings along with better seals to keep things clean. Anyone can be prime candidate for the Hellbender. As this headset comes such an affordable price for amazing quality. 8. Why Cane Creek? Cane Creek right here in the USA with quick knowledgeable staff that can help you out, whether it’s warranties, finding out what size headset you need, or servicing your suspension. 9. Anything else? I also ride Cane Creek HELM Fork and DBCoil CS suspension #HELMYeah!
Hypocrisy can hide in plain sight, and it can indirectly cost us even if we don’t know that it is doing so. We all have known people to say one thing and then do another. The reality is that no one is perfect, and we’ve likely done this ourselves from time-to-time. Usually we intended to do what we said, but then the reality of our situation made it difficult. However, hypocrisy as a result of never intending to “walk the talk” is an entirely different animal. In such a case, one presented oneself in a manner knowing from the beginning that one’s actions would be different. Sometimes this can be a form of perceived self-preservation, but at others it is a way to manipulate others.
Brands are increasingly conceived, tailored, and presented as personalities. By that I mean successful brands exude personal traits that appeal to their target customers. Like in the 90’s, if Oakley was a person, they would be a cool person to hang with. Most brands struggle transcending from a brand that is synonymous with an attribute like innovation to what defines an innovation lifestyle like Apple has (or did until Steve Jobs passed away). No industry likely tries harder to do this than the automotive industry – Subaru and Porsche are two of the more successful in this regard. And yes, bicycle brands are trying hard to do this as well. I’d argue that this does not have to be a bad thing, but when hypocrisy comes to the party there could be a hangover tomorrow.
The story can go like this: “Our brand is individual, rule-breaking, fun, no-fear, etc. like you, so you should adopt our brand as your own.” More so in the dirt than on the pavement, there’s an undercurrent of anti-establishment that brands are trying to surf. If this is done authentically, then fine. But sometimes brands are asking us to believe something, but they are not living by the same creed. You may disagree, and say that you choose products that get the job done and don’t care much for brand mumbo jumbo. But I can tell you for a fact that brand’s that have authenticity issues can also struggle with product integrity. And that should concern you.
So where’s my destination with all this? Consider the bike brands that present (aka sell) themselves to you as unique and different from the big guys like Trek, Specialized, Giant, Cannondale yet the only thing that is different is the (maybe) frame – they stay with Shimano groups on road bikes while mountain bikes get SRAM drivetrains and Fox forks. Don’t get me wrong, Shimano, SRAM, and FOX make some great stuff. But there are a number of other parts makers that may not be better, but can definitely offer different experiences. And sometimes those different experiences could resonate with you and me better. So we lose out.
Why the hypocrisy? The answer is very simple: risk management. Despite positioning itself as rebellious and unique, brand XXX wants to play it safe by spec’ing parts that will be accepted by the majority of people. That brand has a real opportunity to increase the strength and authenticity of its brand by spec’ing parts that are more closely aligned with the brand’s positioning but don’t because they’re scared. They’re asking us as consumers to take a chance on their non-mainstream brand, but they are unwilling to take chances to truly deliver on the brand’s promise. Hmm.
How real is this? I had a conversation recently with a marketing and sales leader of such a brand that I’ve known for years and worked with in the past. This guy is the real deal, smart, and I respect him. He said “You know, I’ve been thinking about this lately, and we should be looking at alternative spec. But big customers (i.e. distributors and dealers) just tell me to put SRAM and Fox on because it sells.” I totally appreciate making decisions that enables a business to survive, but we should be doing things for more than just because it “sells” or we should not be hypocrites by claiming we are company of riders that exist for riders.
So you know you want a HELM fork… why wouldn’t you? Get the low-down between the three different models so you can make sure the fork you choose will be best for your riding style! And if you don’t know you want a HELM fork, let us convince you…
Born in the mountains of Western North Carolina, HELM is designed to conquer aggressive trail, enduro racing, and anything in between. By isolating each damping and air spring adjustment, the HELM has the ability to be tuned for all types of terrain and riding styles and gives the rider ultimate control of their suspension set-up.
Why HELM compared to the “other guys”? HELM gets a bad wrap for being “difficult” to use and set up. Not so! The truth is, HELM has many of the same features as other popular brands – however, HELM’s features are external and more easily adjusted without additional purchases or wildly-specific tools, giving you more control over your set-up from the comfort of your own workstand. Additionally, with HELM Air’s minimum recommended psi as low as 30psi and HELM Coil’s lightest spring working for 90lbs featherweights, we believe HELM is the best fork on the market for everyone, no matter your riding style or skill. Take your HELM from bike-to-bike with quick and easy travel adjustment, and fine tune the feel of the stroke with easy air volume adjustment, independent positive and negative air springs, and high speed/low speed compression and rebound damping. And best of all? 100% of Cane Creek HELM forks are hand-built and rider-tested in our facility in Western North Carolina by a team of highly-trained mechanics and engineers. Why does this matter? It’s a rider, not a machine, building your fork. We know about leverage ratios, we know how suspension “should” feel, we each ride this exact same fork on our own bikes… and we know it makes a difference in quality, performance, and service.
Turns out, you can have your cake and eat it too.
Use the HELM “cheat sheet” below to compare the best features of each model. And check out our Quick Set-Up video to get your HELM rolling ASAP.
HELM Quick Set-Up Video
Wheel size: 27.5″ and 27.5+”/29″
Spring: Air. Independently charge positive and negative air springs. Minimum recommended 30psi.
Damping: Independent, external high speed and low speed compression and independent, external low speed rebound
Crown offset: For 29″ forks, you can choose between standard 51mm or reduced-offset 44mm. For 27.5″ forks, standard 44mm offset.
Stanchion diameter: 35mm
Travel: Easily internally adjusted in 10mm increments. Optimized between 130mm-160mm of travel (29″) and 140mm-170mm of travel (27.5″).
Air volume: Easily internally adjusted using our air volume piston assembly. Air volume is set from the factory at 2 notches down (out of 8 possible positions), leaving you room to make the fork more or less progressive from it’s factory tune
Axle: Quick release D-LOC keyed axle. Upgrade to new Bolt-On D-LOC axle with conversion kit.
Why HELM Air? HELM is the ultimate fork for the “tinker-er” or the rider who wants or needs complete control over his or her fork (aka: you!). Because of its low air psi capabilities (30psi minimum), lightweight and/or less aggressive riders will appreciate how well the fork can perform for them where other manufacturers’ forks can’t. Additionally, 8 “notches” of air volume adjustment (and a max 150psi) allows the heavier and/or more aggressive rider to feel appropriately supportive and progressive. Independently charging the positive and negative air springs also allows the rider to create a more supple feel off-the-top (first third of the stroke) without forsaking a supportive mid-stroke and progressive end-stroke. One of our favorite features of HELM is the ease of adjusting the fork’s travel: you don’t need to buy a new air spring, you simply add or remove “clips” (two included with the fork) to set the fork at your desired travel (max of 170mm). The fork is amazingly utilitarian, supremely adjustable and tunable, and unlike anything else on the market.
Wheel size: 27.5″ and 27.5+”/29″
Spring: Coil with spring pre-load adjustment. A 55lbs spring comes standard (ideal for riders 160-200lbs), but additional spring options include: 35lbs (90-120lbs rider), 45lbs (120-160lbs rider), and 65 (200-240lbs rider).
Damping: Independent, external high speed and low speed compression and independent, external low speed rebound
Crown offset: For 29″ forks, you can choose between standard 51mm or reduced-offset 44mm. For 27.5″ forks, standard 44mm offset.
Stanchion diameter: 35mm
Travel: Easily internally adjusted in 10mm increments. Optimized between 130mm-160mm of travel.
Axle: Quick release D-LOC keyed axle. Upgrade to new Bolt-On D-LOC axle with conversion kit.
Why HELM Coil? Coil suspension is making a massive resurgence in the mountain bike marketplace for a number of reasons. Coil forks allow the rider to have the benefits of coil throughout the suspension platform. Coil springs, as opposed to air springs, have a more linear feel throughout the entire stroke of the suspension (rather than progressive, which the Air fork provides). Why would you want a more linear feel? Coil suspension reduces stroke-fade (the feeling that you’ve lost support when the suspension heats up), completely mitigates friction (seal stiction) and improves small bump sensitivity (less “chattery” and smoother over the rough stuff). HELM Coil provides a more supportive mid-stroke and is inherently consistent, reliable and easy to use. The rider can “set it and forget it” – no need to remember to check your air pressure – it’s easy to set-up, easy to use, and easier to maintain (check, check, and check!). Plus, you get the added adjustment and tuning benefits of HELM – high and low speed compression, low speed rebound, coil pre-load, and travel adjustment!
HELM Works Series 130
Wheel size: 27.5+”/29″ only
Spring: Air. Independently charge positive and negative air springs. Minimum recommended 30psi.
Damping: Independent, external high speed and low speed compression and independent, external low speed rebound + Climb Switch technology
Why HELM Works Series 130? You know you want an HELM, but you’re into short-travel, XC, “down country,” light trail-style riding. Owners of short-travel bikes like the Yeti SB100, Giant Trance Advanced Pro, Santa Cruz Blur, and Trek Top Fuel rejoice! You now have a HELM fork option for your shorter travel 29″ bike. The HELM Work Series 130 is equipped with all-new, enhanced parts including a hollow anodized shorter offset crown, bolt-on D-LOC axle, high speed compression Climb Switch (hello, pedaling efficiency!), and optimized internals including both a shorter compression rod and damper rod. However, the HELM Works Series 130 shares the same 35mm stanchions as the HELM 27.5 and HELM 29 forks, making it stiffer than its competition. The optimized features of HELM Works Series 130 bring 100 grams of weight savings over HELM Air 29. Shipping from our factory in your choice of 120mm or 130mm of travel, your XC shred sled will be ready to go faster than you can define “down country.” It’s time to party like it’s… 1999 grams.
Whether it is riders stopping by after railing trails in the Pisgah National Forest or cruising the Blue Ridge Parkway, visiting vendors, meetings with bank executives, or media coming in for an in-depth product review, people are constantly surprised to learn about what we do here. And by here, I mean our 28,000 sq. ft. (2,800 m2) building in Fletcher, North Carolina. We are far from large in terms of space or people, but the 45 people that make up Cane Creek these days handle a wide range of tasks.
As we are a product-first company, I’ll start there. All Cane Creek product is designed and engineered in-house (If you’re wondering about eeBrakes, you’ll note that nowhere are they branded a Cane Creek product since the design is not our own. However, we did drive the G4 redesign). We start with an idea, and if it is validated it gets turned into a Product Brief that outlines all required features and parameters. From there we make our own prototypes to prove out the concept. Then, once specs are finalized we perform the required ISO lab tests as well as additional tests that we come up with. We design and fabricate our own test fixtures too. We regularly buy and test our competitors’ products as well to compare our performance. Ride tests with and without data acquisition are also conducted by our staff. It is also non-stop work to verify compatibility as all of our products will interface with products on the bike that we don’t make.
Basically everything involved in us telling the story of a product is done in-house. We create all our own marketing content, so everything you read in our website, owner’s manuals, social media posts, etc. are penned by a Creeker. With some exceptions, like when we need a real pro’s help, we perform our own photography and videography. Our Marketing team creates the video story lines, dubs in audio, and does the editing. While it’s not the most awesome website in the universe, everything you see there we did ourselves. We don’t hire agencies to come up with product names, trade show booth designs, mission statements, ad designs, or promotion ideas. We interact with all our customers directly, and we perform clinics for distributors, OEMs, retailers, media, and consumers almost year round.
Nearly 40% of our workforce is dedicated to assembling, packing, and shipping product every day. However, nearly every Creeker gets involved on the floor in some aspect – especially at month-end! The tools, fixtures, test machines, etc. that are used in production are designed and made here. We manage all our suppliers directly, and that includes enforcing Quality Assurance analysis and methods. Every shock and every fork is run on a dyno at least once to verify the damping forces are as they should be and there are no leaks. We also manually check every air shock for air spring leaks. And yes, we build forks, shocks, posts, brakes, and headsets in this building.
Cane Creek is owned by its employees. So we consider all spending carefully, and if we can do it ourselves, we do. We clean our bathrooms, paint our walls, weld our own desks, and maintain our phones, servers, and computers. But this ownership is not really about what we do – it is about why we do it. Our “Why” is what some refer to as a mission statement — “Riding bikes makes life better, we work to make bikes better.”
If you read this through a magic decoder lens, it may look like “we make cool stuff that we believe in, and we do it the way we think it should be done.”
We are not perfect, but if it’s Cane Creek, it’s truly us.
Editor’s Note: We do some really special, unique stuff around here. Interested in checking it out for yourself? Join us for a tour when you’re in town. Email us to set up a date and time (kindly allow us a week’s notice if possible).
PROBLEM: You’ve got a bad case of the “speed wobbles.”
SOLUTION: Bring harmony back to your rides with VISCOSET®
ViscoSet (patent-pending) offers viscous damping to make bicycles safer by inhibiting the uncontrolled steering oscillation… aka the speed wobble. Speed wobbles are vibrations that start small and get worse due to harmonics. This frightening shimmy can affect the handling of any bicycle under certain conditions and is the result of many different factors.
Utilizing specially designed damping plates above the bearing in the upper assembly, ViscoSet stops the oscillation before it can grow to a dangerous level. These micro-thin plates are inter-leaved in an encapsulated cartridge and connected to both the frame and the steerer tube. As they rotate against each other, a fluorocarbon gel between each layer provides viscous damping and stops the oscillation of the handlebars before it grows to a dangerous level. Check out our rendering of just how the damping plates stack up here.
Confused yet? Logan Watts recently reviewed the ViscoSet on Bikepacking.com. One of his key take-aways? ViscoSet isn’t just for e-bikes and city cruisers. Logan installed the set on his gravel bike and says, “…The additional stability [the ViscoSet offers] was a welcome benefit. It not only makes it easier to ride no-handed, it also makes holding a line that much less work. This brings up another noticeable benefit: the ViscoSet cuts down on arm fatigue. It firms up your steering and helps you hold your line without having to tightly grip the handlebars. When you’re railing down a gravel road, you’re constantly exerting little flashes of energy to keep the front wheel straight. While I haven’t conducted an arm wattage output study on one versus the other, it’s definitely noticeable.”
PROBLEM: You prefer an aggressive cockpit.
SOLUTION: SLAMSET, for when you really like to get down.
Vernon Felton wrote for PinkBike: “While the whole ‘slam your stem’ movement has historically been more of a roadie obsession than a dirt thing, a growing number of mountain bikers are starting to fixate on stack height as well. You can chalk some of that up to the fact that nobody can obsess like a cyclist when it comes to the subject of bike geometry and it. I mean, why not lose sleep over your handlebar height since you’re already twitching uncontrollably over your bottom bracket height or reach? There is good reason, however, to consider stack height, particularly given the axle to crown dimension on those 170-millimeter travel forks that spearhead a lot of enduro bikes these days or any of the 140-plus millimeter travel 29er forks on the market.”
The Slamset is a premium headset created for riders seeking to lower their handlebars further than the standard stack height without compromising bearing seal and proper preload. With the Hellbender bearing included, the Slamset excels at durability and longevity when it comes to steering performance. Slamset is sold in both IS (integrated) and ZS (zero stack) configurations. Vernon continues, “The IS Slamset top assembly has lost its sealing elements because of the emphasis on creating a low stack height; as a result, the [included] Hellbender bearing has to house all of the seal elements required to keep it from getting contaminated and freezing up.”
PROBLEM: Your bike can’t keep up with your charge.
Bike too slack? Bike too steep? Turns out you can teach your old dog some new tricks.
The award-winning AngleSet threadless headset makes it possible to change your game. You can transform the head angle of your mountain bike with ease with up to six adjustments. Steeper or slacker adjustments from 0.5 to 1.5 degrees, make dialing in the perfect geometry to attack the trail a breeze. The design of AngleSet is head-tube length independent, so it fits most popular head-tube standards for both tapered and straight steerer tube forks. Plus, this goodness is made in our facility in Fletcher, NC, USA.
This MTBR article explains the specifics nicely: In a nutshell, the system uses upper and lower bearings that are housed in gimbals, which then self-adjust themselves within the headset cups (sort of like a ball joint), one of which has an offset for the actual angle setting…. The self-aligning feature between the system’s main components, the bearings, gimbals and cups, and the steerer tube ensures a proper fit, and easy fork installation.”
PROBLEM: You’re a weight weenie, and you need to save all the grams.
Long recognized as the world’s lightest headset, the new AER now offers a hybrid steel and aluminum bearing that provides even greater durability and a 40% weight savings over comparable models. Strategic machining and precision contours provide an optimal balance between weight savings and strength. The new AER headset is now an ideal headset choice for road and mountain bike applications- a high quality durable headset with durability and lightweight performance in mind. For an ultralight “Race Day” application, road riders can outfit their AER with a Norglide composite bearing.
Only need a new bearing? The AER-Series hybrid Steel/Aluminum maintains the quality and durability our bearings are known for, while shaving 35% of the weight.
For all you EXTRA weight weenies… the eeTop and eeNut offer a beautifully functional new concept for an extremely lightweight preload assembly. A total weight of only 9.6 grams for the full assembly, the eeTop and eeNut saves 30 grams over the typical top and preload. The eeNut is a unique and patent pending design providing ultra light weight, solid locking action and ease of installation in one package. The recessed cone shape provides greater tension stiffness. This increased stiffness facilitates precise headset adjustment and sets it apart from other lightweight caps.
Fresh off the launch of the new Cotic Flare, we caught up with Cy, Richard, and Hannah from Cotic Bikes to discuss the brand’s “Sweet 16” years in operation, their history with Cane Creek, and some exciting new initiatives…
What would you do if you wanted to ride a bike that didn’t yet exist? If you’re Cy Turner, you design your own.
In 2002, Cy was a young engineering professional with few “adult responsibilities”: no kids, no mortgage – just a wife and a few dreams. Cy combined his love of cycling with his knowledge of engineering principles and designed the frame he wanted to ride, what would eventually become their legendary hardtail the Soul. Through a little bit of chance and luck, he ended up ordering 100 of them. He sold enough to repay the loan, and poof! Cotic Bikes was born.
Cotic is headquartered in the UK in the heart of the beautiful Peak District, just 20 minutes south of Sheffield, England. The brand was born in 2003 with the Soul, but Cotic now designs and sells hardtail and full-suspension mountain bikes, as well as drop-bar/straight-bar road/gravel/cyclocross utilitarian bikes. Almost their entire range is steel, and each of their products are anchored in five key attributes: fun, durable, clean lines, interactive, and confidence inspiring. Cotic sells consumer-direct globally, and they’ve seen their frames travel to all corners of the globe. Almost every single bike features Cane Creek products including headsets, forks, and shocks, and consumers are able to customize build specs mixing and matching parts to their heart’s content. Cy recalls the beginning of Cotic’s relationship with Cane Creek,
“Cotic started working with Cane Creek on a small scale for headsets in 2011. As a very small brand back then, we appreciated [Cane Creek’s] open, friendly attitude to having our business and treating us as a valued customer despite our small size and modest ordering. This is very much in contrast to the ‘unless you’re ordering $250k worth you aren’t worth my time’ attitude of one or two of the larger suppliers in our industry. I have always appreciated that, and it’s always nice to work with people who respect what you’re doing. Cane Creek have always been that way. When we were coming back into production with the Rocket in 2015, we needed a high end suspension offer to compliment our other options. Cane Creek were the go-to partner. I had been testing the DB Air, and when the DB Inline became available it was the perfect partner for our new bike. Cane Creek were again more than happy to work with a small, but growing business, with very small volumes to start with. However, we were still granted our own part number for the shock, our own base tune and tuning card. This gave our bikes a premium feel when our customers specified the DB Inline shock. It helped us sell the bike. [Editor’s note: Cane Creek works hand-in-hand with select OE manufacturers to achieve a bike-specific tune. Cotic customizes all of the Double Barrel tunes for their bikes – their custom tunes can be found here]
Over the next few years our suspension offering grew and developed out of all recognition, and with now DB Air IL, Coil IL, Air CS and HELM, we have awesome suspension offered on our bikes, which sets us apart from the crowd both in terms of performance and image. Last season Cane Creek took another step of trust with us and become a sponsor to our race team, which has carried through to 2019. We like to race on what we sell, so the fact our biggest selling bikes are equipped with Cane Creek suspension made it a perfect partnership to have the HELM and DB Air CS on the team bikes. Along with this, we are now actively consulted by their engineering and sales teams regarding our needs and preferences, which makes us feel very much appreciated. My highlight of the last Eurobike show was sitting down at the end of a long first day and having a yarn with TR, Luke and Ian. Add in the sales and tech support we get from Bryan and Andrew, we love working with you guys!”
As it turns out, their customers love Cane Creek too. Cotic’s customers get to experience Cane Creek products for the first time on Cotic’s demo tour. Then, when it comes time to order their bike, most of them choose to build or upgrade their bike to Cane Creek because of the products’ performance.
There’s more to Cotic than just developing bicycles. Cotic’s team of professional riders, the Cotic CC, and the Cotic Women of Steel are heavily community-focused initiatives with the goal of promoting and supporting their local riding communities. Richard Baybutt of Cotic notes, “The team will be out on the road this year at the Scottish Triple Crown events, [Enduro World Series] rounds, and other awesome events. The Cotic CC (cycling club) is running and hosting events all over the country exclusively for Cotic owners, hoping to get people riding things they wouldn’t normally get involved with – skateparks, uplifts, ride with the pros, bikepacking, etc. It’s always fun getting out of your comfort zone.”
Just this past Friday, April 12, Cotic launched their Women of Steel program. As their webpage explains, Women of Steel is a new
space for riders to meet up, plan adventures, learn skills and get more involved with this amazing sport. While Cotic CC is limited to Cotic owners, Cotic has made it clear that Women of Steel is for all female riders, not just those on a Cotic bikes. Hannah Saxelby, Cotic’s Demo & Dispatch Assistant, writes, “It’s open to any female riders that are keen to get out, improve their skills and meet new people. We’ll be organising events throughout the year that members can get involved with such as ride outs, skills days and mechanic sessions to boost your confidence and meet like-minded riders. We’re going to be sharing the stories and creating inspiring content to motivate you to get out and ride your bike!”
Gallery – Photos by Richard Baybutt
Cotic Bikes is located at Unit 6, Calver Works, Calver, Hope Valley S32 3XH, UK
Special thanks to Cotic Bikes/Cy Turner, Richard Baybutt, and Hannah Saxelby
All photos provided by Richard.
Fun fact: Richard won Pinkbike’s 2018 Photo of the Year Contest and used a little bit of his winnings to purchase some eeWings for his bike. It’s just the sickest, don’t you think?
It’s probably slipped your mind, but today is, in fact, National Siblings Day in the United States. We’re sure you’re just thrilled.
Siblings can be your best friends, worst enemies, or somewhere in between. These Cane Creek “Perfect Pairs” won’t annoy, interfere, criticize, make snide remarks, borrow your clothes, monopolize the bathroom, leave the toilet seat up, or get in the way… In fact, with them you’ll share a mutual unconditional love, and we promise they’ll be there for you when you need them most.
Peas & carrots, peanut butter & jelly, grilled cheese & tomato soup… these go together (like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong):
1 | eeWINGS ALL-ROAD CRANKS + eeBRAKES EL PLATINO
It doesn’t get any better than this pair. eeWings All-Road crankset is made almost entirely of titanium, save the CNC aluminum bottom bracket preloader. The cranks sparkle and shine just as much as they provide a stiff, stable, and lightweight pedaling platform. When paired with the platinum-finished limited edition eeBrakes El Platino, your bike performance (and sexiness) will soar. In fact, your future’s so bright with the eeWings All-Road and eeBrakes El Platino that you’ll need to put on a pair of shades…
eeBrakes El Platino are limited edition and only available until April 19, 2019. Take advantage of this perfect pair before they disappear forever.
2 | HELM FORK + HELM CUSTOM STICKER KIT
Now your entire bike family can be matchy-matchy! Take your “twinning” to the next level by adding a colored HELM sticker kit to your order. Sticker kits are available in blue, green, orange, pink, stealth matte black, and stealth gloss black and will apply easily on any HELM fork, even the brand new HELM Works Series 130 (even though it has a larger, die-cut sticker).
At first glance, this may seem an unlikely pair. However eeSilk premium suspension seatpost and Hellbender 70 headset have one major quality in common: They disappear. The very best components are the ones you never notice: they’re working flawlessly in the background providing you with reliable performance and unmatched confidence. eeSilk weighs only 295 grams and is comparable in weight to traditional rigid performance seatposts. It offers 20mm of vertical compliance, improving control on rough surfaces and reducing fatigue on long rides, allowing you to ride farther, longer far more comfortably. Hellbender 70 headset is a dream for cyclists, especially riders who like to get out in all conditions. The low-friction upper bearing seal completely seals the headset cup and sealed stainless-steel Hellbender bearing from contaminants (read: dirt, dust, road grime, sand, spiders, etc.) and is fully captured by the top cover with no loose parts. The Hellbender 70 gives you the design characteristics, sealing elements, and quality bearing found on a 110-series headset at a more palatable price.
4 | DB IL SHOCKS + OPT REMOTE
This one’s a no-brainer. Cane Creek’s patented Climb Switch technology has changed the way riders think about suspension. No other shock on the market offers climbing-specific damping for both compression and rebound. Keeping suspension active while climbing results in better connection to the trail and increased efficiency without annoying pedal-bob. When Climb Switch technology was introducted to Double Barrel IL shocks, we knew we needed an OPTion for remote control over compression damping… see what we did there? Enter: Opt. Opt is the Climb Switch handlebar remote that gives riders the option to tune their Climb Switch to their desired riding preference without their hands ever having to leave the handlebars. DB IL shocks and Opt go together like a more delicious version of peas and carrots… which would be like ice-cream and sprinkles.
5| ROAD CACHE STORAGE POCKET + MULTI-TOOL
Brent Graves, Cane Creek President & CEO, acknowledges, “The inspiration for the Road Cache came from [a rider’s] use of a ThudGlove to carry his spare tube and supplies.” The Road Cache is a minimalist, water resistant accessory pouch designed to fit in a jersey pocket. It has room to carry a 700×25 or smaller tube, tire levers and a CO2 inflator. Unlike competitors, the Road Cache is about less is more – it weighs less than a gel (only 27 grams!). The Road Cache is a clamshell design made of black neoprene with sturdy water-resistant zippers. While the Multi-Tool is neither minimalist, nor lightweight, and it definitely won’t fit inside the Road Cache with your repair equipment, it is an vital tool to carry with you on rides of any length. The tool comes equipped with 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, and 6mm allen wrenches, T25 “torx” wrench, and Phillips-head screwdriver. Additionally, and arguably most importantly, the integrated bottle-opener doubles as a spoke wrench and the corkscrew… opens a bottle of wine. All this with a beautiful wood finish – you can’t ask for much more!
Consider this situation:
You have a mechanical, you aren’t carrying any repair equipment, but a good samaritan stops to help you with his/her own equipment. This is a six-pack+ or bottle of wine transaction. You have a mechanical, you are carrying your own repair equipment, and a good samaritan stops to help you get rolling again. This is a single beer or glass of wine transaction.
Moral of the story: Buy a Road Cache and Cane Creek Multi-Tool and carry your own $h!t.