Archive for April 2016

Trailforks, Pinkbike, and OSM

For years I’ve been pretty enthusiastic about OpenStreetMap (OSM) and using it to map trails (MTB and otherwise). While there are a bunch of other ways to map trails online (Google Maps, MTB Project, Trailforks) I have stayed away from contributing to them because of the one-way nature of submissions; your contributed data gets locked behind their license. While MTB Project and Trailforks both claim to allow some manner of reuse of data, it’s nothing as useful as OSM‘s Creative Commons (CC) based licensing. Effectively being the Wikipedia of GIS makes it extremely useful for those of us who want to both contribute data and build open maps on the larger set.

Then suddenly last night I read this article on Pinkbike discussing how they took OSM data, parsed it to highlight mountain biking routes, and are now using it as the base map for their Trailforks mapping site. They built a tool on top of the open data and made something great.

This is really, truly excellent.

This sort of reuse of public, open data in OSM is the exact reason why I contribute to it. The folks at Pinkbike / Trailforks have taken a useful set of data from all over the world, processed it, and made something good. This would not have been possible with the data locked up in Google, MTB Project, or even the stuff contributed directly to Trailforks.

I look forward to where this’ll go. The Pinkbike article mentions that they’ll be reimporting the data a little different in the future, and talks about how they are going to have another article about tagging to better support Trailforks. While OSM has some minimal standards for MTB tagging (eg: mtb:scale:imba) I look forward to a bit more de-facto standard around this.

Flat Bars?!?

For years I’ve been riding mountain bikes with fairly swept handlebars (1, 2), commonly referred to as “alt bars”. After trying a few I’d settled on the 23 degree sweep, 710mm wide Salsa Bend 2, and it’s been comfortable for pretty much all of the mountain bike riding that I do. Whether fast single track, dirt roads, or winter exploring, they seemed to work.

I recently picked up a 2015 Salsa El Mariachi SS and it came with an 11 degree sweep, no rise, Salt Flat 2 bar. Not having any spare Bend 2 bars I decided to give it a go. At 700mm it’s roughly the same width as the Bend 2, and on the first few rides on the SS it was comfortable. I’d noticed that on the Bend 2, coupled with the Ergon GP1 grips, I’d often have my hand rotated so the grip sets diagonally across my palm, effecting the same grip as a less-swept bar. So, I decided to swap out the bars on my other two mountain bikes (the rebuilt El Mariachi Ti and the Blackborow) and give it a go.

Thanks to a combination of eBay, Facebook, the MMBA Forum, and some personal connections I was able to get a take-off 750mm Salt Flat 2 and a Salt Flat Carbon for a total of $100. Cutting down the 750mm bar was easy, and save for having to shorten the front brake cable on the Blackborow (to prevent rub) swapping bars on both bikes was easily done on a lazy Saturday morning.

Now I’m just waiting for weather to get better so I can put in some good, long rides and see if they work out as well as I’m hoping. At $100 out of pocket I think it’s a worthy experiment. If it works out I hope to sell the Bend 2 bars for about that, or if not, sell the Salt Flat bars to cover a Bend 2 for the SS. (I don’t really like the orange, anyway…)