Last week while I was doing my World Championship training regimen at the Chula Vista BMX Track, Maris Strombergs also came out to do some riding in a small pro group training setting. Maris was looking to switch up his training environment from the usual Perris California scene. After I was done with my one hour training session (5 all out laps with short rest) Maris was almost done warming up as he took his time to get quite a few passes though the rhythm and pro section. Towards the end he wanted to do some gates. It was cool to hang out with Maris and drop gates for him, talk strategies on training perspective and the challenge of keeping pro racing life fun and refreshing. Of course, we talked about bike parts and set ups as he didn’t hesitate to say as he was looking at my new Chase bike “those cranks are old school!” taking note of my set of old school Profiles. I explained to him that they we’re the only cranks I had in my closet that were of the 177.5mm variety until BOX Components gets more in stock. Maris was riding a new carbon bike which sparked lot’s of talk which led to this Pro Bike Inspection.
THE FRAME SET – CARBON TALK
Being that Maris had been on an aluminum Free Agent close to 8 years, this is the first time since 2009 that he’s not only made a bike brand switch, but a bike material one as and this new bike is made out of carbon. I asked him how he liked the carbon material, and he said “it’s loud,” meaning he hears the subtleties of track feedback while navigating the track- it wasn’t a bad thing he was implying, it was the only thing that he had to get used to. Maris was quick to mention he does like the way the acceleration feels out of the gate and down the first straight. Saying he liked the stiff responsiveness and felt rewarded for his efforts.
THE COCK PIT
Maris would prefer a longer frame of 22 inch top tube, but is fine with the Envy BLK’s longest frame available (Pro XXL 21.75) and so he made up the preferential difference with a 60mm long Tangent Split Stem which secured the Tangent Flat Iron bars (6 degrees back/4 degree upsweep) wrapped with ODI Lock On’s.
The bars are lined up about one degree forward with the beautifully designed Speedline Carbon tapered fork (1 1/8” – 1.5”) with the aluminum heat treated 7005 aluminum steer tube. Tyler Brown was quick to ask Maris “do you have the carbon steer tube?” and Maris was quick to response with a “no, the frame and the fork is enough carbon for me to start with.” Fair enough, Maris is a big guy who is easily one of the strongest guys in BMX who stands around six foot two inches and weighs close to 200lbs. – Maris is no Donny Robinson.
THE DRIVE TRAIN
One of the features of the frame that Strombergs’ liked was that the frame had a standard European bottom bracket shell which allows Maris to run the classic and reliable Shimano DXR cranks (180mm). A Tangent 47 tooth chain ring was mounted, wrapped with a classic Shimano HG-71 8 speed chain. I measured the chain stay length cut at 15 7/16th. Appropriate for his height and power as the length limits the risk of popping long and high wheelies out of the gate and or looping out manualing through a deep rhythm section.
An interesting thing occurred when I took Maris’ bike down the start hill for a quick test – I couldn’t clip in to his Shimano M424 pedals easily, they we’re frickin’ stiff to get in. His Latvian mechanic had customized his pedals so Maris would be limit the risk of clipping out as he is damn powerful. The pedal springs we’re replaced with stiffer ones and they cut the rear plate deeper so that the bottom rounded edge of the cleat wouldn’t leverage itself easily to disengage for a clip out. Hard to explain, but basically you reach a point where the float ends and any movement past that the cleat disengages. With the cut out, it doesn’t allow it to disengage near the end of the float. It was ridiculously hard to get in and out of. I want to send my pedals to Latvia now!
Moving to the wheels, Maris runs the classic Stealth Pro hubs with the front being the new industry standard 20mm axle diameter for more stifness. The Machine still opts for the classic and light weight 3/8th rear axle as he prefers the feel over the 15mm and 20mm options that are available for both the Envy frame and Stealth hubs. The Envy BLK will accommodate all three sizes with it’s proprietary chain tensioners. The hubs are laced with Bombshell SL Pro aluminum hoops which have a nice 31.5mm width. These are wrapped in Tioga Powerbands in the 1.85 size (both front and rear wheel). Maris runs 47 tooth by 17 tooth and with the 1.85 rear Powerband tire this places his gear inches approximately at 55.18 gear inches.