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Instagram *Almost* Hit a Home Run with Image Formatting

By Social Media No Comments

I meant to publish this post almost a month ago when Instagram started allowing non-square image sizes, but then I moved to Philly and my life got flipped, turned upside down. But now I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there and I’ll tell you how I became a critic of an app called Instagram. 

To be perfectly candid, I was a little disappointed by Instagram’s elimination of the square image requirement. I suppose I’ve always liked the simplicity (and perhaps the challenge) of taking the right photo, cropping, zooming and positioning it oh-so-perfectly. The OCD part of me very much likes the perfectly square formatting that Instagram has always embraced.

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custom html tag google tag manager

Failed Experiment: Adding Meta Descriptions to Tumblr Using Tag Manager

By SEO, Social Media No Comments

Months back, a client launched a Tumblr blog. I won’t get into why they/we decided on a Tumblr blog, I’ll just say that we launched a Tumblr blog. I had never done much work with Tumblr before, so I relished the opportunity to dive in and see what I could do, Tumblr-wise.

Turns out Tumblr is much more versatile than I even knew. You can add an HTML theme and completely customize the appearance. You can add Open Graph tags and Twitter card data. You can add canonical tags and re-targeting pixels. You can add Google Analytics and track traffic similar to a regular website.

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Gladiator Panda Penalty thumbs down

Blocking CSS & JS Files Can Contribute to a Panda Penalty

By SEO No Comments

Let me start by saying that none of this is groundbreaking news – in fact it makes a lot of sense if you think about it a bit.

A new Panda algorithm update has recently been announced (v4.2) and the rollout is expected to take months. Not coincidentally, lots of SEOs have recently received notifications in Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) that blocking CSS and Javascript files in robots.txt can cause issues.

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Front Triangle Jigged Mitered (Bottom Bracket Side)

How To Build A Mountain Bike Frame In Your Parents’ Garage

By Uncategorized 3 Comments

Two weeks ago I outlined my design plans for a 650b steel all mountain hardtail frame. Since then an enormous amount of work has transpired in my quest to build my own frame and then ride it on trails that I built.

Homemade Frame Jig

Jigging is perhaps the main obstacle that separates backyard builders from professional frame builders (aside from knowledge and experience of course). I designed my own frame jig based on a lot of reading and a little design creativity on my end. I aimed for the easiest and most accurate frame jig that worked within my parameters as far as tools and budget.

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RattleCAD Hardtail mockup

Frame Building: Design and Concept

By Uncategorized 2 Comments

There are levels of bike geekdom. Your average rider buys a bike off the shelf and rides it as-is. A more particular rider might swap small parts like grips, saddle, tires, pedals, etc. Some go as far as to swap major components like wheels, cranks, forks, etc.  True bike nerds, however, scoff at the thought of owning a bicycle even remotely close to stock and insist instead on assembling their own bikes with parts of their choosing. Some might even go as far as to strip the bike down and send it out for custom paint or powdercoat. A VERY particular rider may even order a bike with custom geometry.

At the top of the nerdpile (trademark pending) exists a special subset of bike nerds for whom custom geometry and paint is inadequate and doing it yourself is the only option. I am about to enter the 1% of bike geekdom, the pinnacle of bicycle expertise, the top nerd echelon. I am about to build my own frame.

Is this at all necessary? Why would I even consider doing this? In short: 1) No and 2) Because I can. I’m of average proportions and there are dozens of stock bikes that ride well and would fit me perfectly. I don’t purport to be such a talented rider that I require something unique. I’ve simply acquired a level of knowledge that has deluded me into thinking I can build my own bicycle frame. Oh and I know a framebuilder.

Yes that’s correct, I’m lucky enough to be good friends with a very talented frame welder named Paul Dotsenko. Paul formerly worked for FBM Bike Co. welding steel BMX frames and last year I had him make some custom modifications to an existing steel hardtail I own. Stellar work, really. We’ve talked about frame building at length and Paul just moved to a location 40 minutes from me so the timing is right.

That being said, enough talk. What’s the plan?

The plan is to build a long travel steel hardtail based around a 150mm Rockshox Pike, 650b wheels, 44mm head tube, 142×12 dropouts and a 31.6mm seatpost (dropper post compatible). The geometry includes a 67 degree head angle, 73 degree seat angle, and short (425mm chainstays) attached to a 73mm threaded bottom bracket. The seat tube and top tube lengths will imitate similar large-framed mountain bikes at 19″ and 24″, respectively. Most of the materials will be American-made True Temper tubing from Henry James and machined parts from Paragon Machine Works. 

RattleCAD Hardtail mockup

Rough draft of the frame geometry


Next step: Frame jig design and tube selection/placement.


Mountain Bike Marketing Department

650b Mountain Bike Wheels: Technological Advancement or Marketing Gimmick?

By Advertising, Digital Marketing No Comments

Bicycle Wheel Size Comparison

26 is dead. This phrase has been uttered on the internet, on bike rides, and in bike shops all across America.

Log on to forums like MTBR or Pinkbike and you’ll read hundreds of posts bemoaning the loss of the 26″ wheel size and declaring that 650b is a marketing gimmick crafted by the bike industry to sell more stuff. You’ll also read posts from hundreds of riders who’ve just converted to the “Goldilocks” wheel size. So which is it? Let’s check some facts and then attempt to speculate.


Is 650b an effort to sell more stuff? Of course it is. The entire bike industry spends an awful lot of time thinking of ways to sell more product. For the vast majority of us, riding bikes is a leisure activity. We don’t need a new bike, we don’t need lighter handlebars, we don’t need an extra 10mm of fork travel. We buy these things because we want them. And despite the fact that our current bikes are perfectly good, we’ll always drool over a bike that’s newer and better. The industry would be foolish not to recognize this and capitalize on it.

Mountain Bike Marketing Department

Typical marketing department at a bike company.


That being said, some comments would lead you to believe that the marketing departments of bike companies are board rooms full of fat men in suits smoking cigars and trying to think of the next way they can screw the consumer to make a buck. That simply isn’t accurate. Sure, companies like Specialized, Trek, Cannondale and Giant have large marketing departments and have a big advertising budget. Every business has acquisition costs and for manufacturers of that magnitude, they are high. Realize too that a ton of marketing money is spent in ways that benefit riders (bike parks, events, races, etc.) In general, the people that work in the industry are riders too and their focus is to make better stuff, because better stuff sells.




Right now 650b mountain bikes are selling. Not just selling, but selling like hotcakes. In a thread on the MTBR forums John Pentecost, International Sales Manager for Yeti Cycles, claimed that Yeti’s 27.5″ wheeled bikes were outselling their 26ers at a ratio of 50 to 1. I’ll repeat that: 50 to 1. With statistics like that, any bike company would be foolish not to increase sales 5000% by offering a 650b model. The buying public has spoken with their wallets and 650b is the size they want.

Mountain Bike Crash

This guy clearly has the wrong wheel size.

“The Butt Test”

Saddle time and the butt test are what really matter. Santa Cruz claims that they test rode prototypes with both wheelsizes back to back and didn’t notice any substantial difference. They suspected that 650b would sell better, so that’s what they went with. The key factor to keep in mind is that the bikes certainly won’t ride poorly. Worst case scenario, there’s no noticeable difference from a 26″ bike and that won’t necessarily deter riders from buying one, if they’re already in the market for a new bike.


Numbers and Statistics

Anecdotal evidence aside, is there a quantifiable performance benefit? Let’s look at some numbers and dispel some myths. While “650b” may be confusing to consumers, the alternative is downright misleading. 27.5″ would indicate that the wheelsize is smack dab in the middle of 26″ and 29″ which is not true. Let’s compare the effective rim diameter (ERD) of the three wheelsizes.

Mountain Bike Wheel Size Diameter Comparison

Image Courtesy of BikeRumor

26″         559mm     (100%)

650b     584mm     (104.5%)

29″         622mm     (111.3%)


As you can see, a 650b rim is 4.5% larger than a 26er. Compare that to a 29er wheel which is 11.3% larger and 650b is not the Goldilocks wheelsize that some would suggest. Secondly, these calculations only take into account rim diameter and do not factor in variations in tire size, sidewall height or rim width. A 26″ wheel with a large tire can come very close to the overall diameter of a 27.5″ wheel with a slightly smaller tire. 29ers still have a significant size advantage over both wheelsizes, regardless of tire size.

The 650b Trend

So how did we get here? 650b has gone from niche fringe category to unbelievably popular in less than a year. Compared to the ten plus years it took 29ers to become truly mainstream, that’s unheard of. Consumers claim that they’re buying 650b because the 26″ option is gone and it’s being forced upon them. Manufacturers claim that consumer demand has driven the development of the wheel size. It’s truly a chicken-or-the-egg scenario and there’s no definitive answer.

I hypothesize it’s a combination of both. In this fast paced industry where developments occur rapidly and components can become outdated in a calendar year, consumers are tired and leery of investing in products that they suspect won’t be supported in the near future. They’re looking at the writing on the wall for 26″ wheels and spending their money on what they think will be the most future-proof.

Some hypothesize that to avoid more lost opportunities, bike companies have decided to jump on the 650b bandwagon early. A lot of manufacturers played the wait-and-see game with the 29″ wheelsize and lost out on potential sales because they had no bikes to offer and were late to market.



Let’s just ride our bikes, OK?