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Final Bout

Final Bout © Andor (10)

ClubFR came up with a truly great event, which promises to be the continent’s most beloved annual drift spectacle. Teams from coast to coast, north to south, gathered in a small town in rural Wisconsin. Unlike most drift events, this was a battle of teams, as opposed to individual drivers. The stage was set at My favorite track, USA International Raceway, known to most as UsaIR. A hilly, winding cart track located just outside of the town of Shawano. To those of us from the midwest drifting comunity, this place is also called the rollercoaster of love. Now, the love has been shared with a selection of crews from far beyond our region. I hope they all enjoyed it and come back for more next year!

Final Bout © Andor (8)

Never have I seen enough people to be called a crowd of spectators at this track, until now. They certainly got to see what they came for. Two days of tire shredding, wall riding and relentless attempts to get right up on the door of each other, the drivers in attendance left nothing on the table. The judges for the event were three heavy hitters, though one is more a regional legend, they were a good choice of respectable drifters. They narrowed down the field to four teams and after another run from each, made the verdict. Fourth place was taken by ShaDynasty, a crew from Washington State. In My opinion, the cars driven by these guys were the most interesting collection there. Third place was handed to regional heavy weights, Risky Devil, from Chicago. Second place went to the Hot Boyz, hailing from Alberta, Canada. They were outshining just about everyone on the first day, but a concrete barrier decided to intervene and change things up. The winners of the first annual Final Bout, team drift battle? High Fade, also from the Chicago area. They were very consistent all weekend. It looked to Me like they had been practicing team driving more than anyone else. Before launching for each run, the lead car would rev it’s engine twice and wait. The last car in line would then rev it’s engine once, signalling everyone was ready and off they went. Most of the crews ended up spreading out during their runs, but High Fade stayed together every time. Some may argue otherwise, but these guys earned the win for sure!

I was not on the media roster for this event, so this is not a complete coverage kind of post. In fact I spent half of the weekend working the entry gate, so I did miss an awful lot of the action. However, for Me, there is no such thing as going on a road trip and not taking a ton of pictures. Happily, the ClubFR family are friends of mine, so they thanked Me for helping out and let Me go do My photo geek thing for a while. Phill, Maggie, Simba, Ilia and the rest of the crew, thanks a bunch for coming up with the idea for this event and making it into reality! I had a great time and I’ll see You when I see You, hopefully that will be soon.

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Rolling In Style

My Mercedes 2014 © Andor (1)

Ten years ago, I discovered this frame on eBay. I wanted a full suspension set up, but had pretty much given up on finding such a frame that wasn’t stupidly heavy for My purposes. I was looking for a light weight mountain bike frame to build up for riding the city streets. This beauty weighs in at 4.55 pounds, that is the frame, shock and the black seat mount together. It just doesn’t get any better than that, unless You want a rigid frame. It was made by a company called Amp Research, formerly Amplifier, in the late 90’s. Originally, these bikes came with disk brakes, the first bike ever with disk brakes in fact. Though that made for some complications in My build. Now, there are standard mounting points for brake calipers and rotors, but since this was before standards came to being, the only ones that work are the original Amp brakes. Unfortunately Amp Research is an engineering group, that dabbles in many different types of things and at the turn of the century, they ended their decade-long run making bicycles. Needless to say, finding all the hardware, without buying another one of their bikes, whole, was not an easy task. Over the next couple years, I actually bought two more variations of them. This one aquired on auction from a police department in Michigan.

Only the frame and fork were from that auction, along with a set of the old Amp disk brakes. These black and white bikes were originally made for the New York police department, amp added the rack to their standard issue Mercedes-branded bikes and sold them to cops around the nation. I love the front fork on this bike. A second generation Amp model, which has a mere two and a half inches of travel, but they are so smooth and absurdly light. This is a B3 series frame set. Which recieved all of the rest of it’s components, less the brakes and wheels, from My old specialized rock hopper. I bought the Vuelta wheels and a set of Shimano IS Hydraulic disk brakes once I figured out an adapter to be able to mount the now standard brakes. Which was a four year hassle that eventually led Me to sell this bike in frustration. The front worked just fine, but the rear brakes were mounted in a pretty shody way. At least I doubled My money on it.

My Other Mercedes 2010 © Andor(4)

Shortly after selling that bike, I found an Amp F3 front fork, with the carbon fiber pipes, from their last(B5) frame. I proceeded to replace the Girvin Cross-Link Elite that had been on My silver B4 frame for 5 years. This was a welcome change, since the old Girvin fork was nearly twice the weight. Oddly, the carbon fork is actually heavier than the older, all aluminum one. It does have a longer range of travel, but it is not as smooth as the elder fork was either. It does match the carbon rear end of My frame and the bike is much nicer to ride than it was with the cross-link on it. I must admit though, I liked the look with that girvin fork too.

Me and My Mercedes 2006 © Andor

I was happy to aquire My third Amp Research bike(not pictured) because it had the v-brake clamps. If I had not worked out a way to run them, I would have had to switch to some regular wheels and run the same lack lustre rear disk brake arrangement as on the police bike above. I really did not want to take the non-disk braking, carbon composite Spin Tri-Spokes off of this bike. They just look so great and if You haven’t connected the dots, just think, Mercedes-Benz logo, only they are the wheels. Yeah, I went there… Having rode this bike for 4 years with only front brakes, clamping on the mounts for the rear end was a nice feeling. So was the feeling of being able to stop really fast, without flying over the handlebars. Six years after getting the frame, the bike had reached what should be it’s final incarnation. I wish I could have fit a larger front gear, but the angle of the lower-rear fork will not allow more than the 48 tooth that’s on it. She rides like a champ, quite fast, easy to accelerate and it has a firm ride, but takes the edge off of those massive Minnesota pot holes.