Category Archives: tire

Rotation, Rotation, Rotation!

Don’t the size of the tires, on some degree, define what bicycle you have and who you are? Bikes such as monstercrossers aren’t that different than a regular cyclocross bike – just with wider rubber. And what about the veritable 29er? Not so different than a hard-tail 26in-wheel mountain bike in everything except wheel size! As it stands right now, there are four well-known sizes for bicycle wheels: 26in, 700c, 29in, and 650b.  Yes, 700c and 29in wheels and tires are technically the same, but for the purposes of everyday cyclists (and morover, the cycling industry), 29in is a buzzword for width.

26in is by far the most common – the VW Beetle of bike wheels if you will. Ubiquitous all around the world (especially the 3rd world, as the Beetle used to be!), and often easy to find cheap replacements, it is loved for its smaller size as this increases its durability. If you ride this size, you are a no-nonsense, function-over-form kinda cyclist. 

36er?!? Now you’re just showboating!

700c is for those who love the open road, and speed – the sports cars of bike wheels. The large diameter wheel and thinner profile tires make them roll over road bumps more easily, and have low rolling resistance. Often a little harder to find and slightly more expensive, the can be slightly more delicate as their larger diameter makes them less forgiving to rough treatment. If you roll on 700c, you are concerned about speed, and love the cruising on the roadways.

29in tires and wheels can be likened to SUVs in the car world – requiring a lot of energy to roll fast, but  fun when off road or in the gritty stuff. Also like SUVs, they can have a bit of a “status factor”. They can be a little more delicate the their 26in cousins, but that special ability to roll over all obstacles often makes them desirable for the offroading crowd. If you have a 29er, you like to be proud of what you ride, but you are willing to have fun along the way.

And of course, how can we forget 650b? They are the Austin Mini of the cycling industry, in that they once were very popular, but fell out of favour and production was stopped. With a ‘rebirth’ into the nostalgic minds it was launched, so just as new Mini Cooper, the 650b tire is making a come-back in popularity. An odd size in-between 26in and 700c, but with a 29er’s thickness, it is the French tire size from a bygone era. If your bike is equipped with 650b wheels, you may just be a “Retro-Grouch, loving the “tried and true” of yesteryear. That or, you are a hipster trying to keep up with the latest, if not most functional, cycling trend.


Of course, these are stereotypes – but I think from the websites of Velo Orange and TwentyNineInches and the endless personal and forum experiences we’ve all had, we can say they are often true!

New (old) Tires

I wanted to see how fast this bicycle would go when it had on more road-oriented tyres, so I pulled off the hulking CST Critters and pumped up my discount Nashbar buys – the now-discontinued “Transition” line of tyres. They are basic commuter/ touring tyres, with a 35mm tread. I picked them up after I had a terrible streak of annoying tire flats on crummy $5 rubber. These Nashbar models feature a layer of kevlar protection, just under the tread; it works – no flats to date, and these year-olds have been tried on >350kms of glass-covered city streets. I give the thumbs up to Nashbar for this one, but I have a sneaking suspicion these are re-branded Panaracer models (if one looks carefully, it has a  “Panasonic” hidden on it).

The rear tire is the Nashbar, the front is a 23mm Hutchinson
road offering…

Anyway, they are a ton faster than any bulbous mountain tire could be, as anyone should expect. I’d say average rolling resistance for its width, due to the circular dots used for the tread. If it had a directional tread, I would expect less resistance, but I’m not complaining for $7.50 + S&H. Frame of reference: compared to 35mm Vittoria Randonneurs (on my dad’s bike), they are a little softer @ the same PSI, offer more cushion and are more gravel-road worthy, but are noisier, and roll slower. My Rating: Definitely worth it – good tires for a commuting, touring or general road set-up, with superb (kevlar) puncture protection, and which can also take light dirt and gravel trails.

However, what you are seeing in the pictures are not Nashbar tires – that funny candycane red tire on the white deep-vee rim is a Hutchinson Nitro 23mm race tire, à la fixed gear. That is, the whole front wheel/tire combo was snatched from my Fixed/SS bike. The rim is Weinmann, and as such, is spectacularly heavy – something like 700g a rim. But the formula sealed hubs are nice, and the Nitros roll easily enough to make the weight penalty negligible. I simply decided to see what it would be like to ride “roadie” for a day, and so switched the wheel; I like it a lot, and it makes the bike’s additional tread clearance look almost comically large.

Sooo muuuuch clearnce!!

Although the tires are very stiff, the deep-v rims even stiffer, and one would assume that a straight (not curved) fork w/ disc tabs would be too, the ride quality of the O8 frame is good. Road noise is what I’d call average, but small bumps, cracks and ‘blips’ in the road are absorbed by the well-designed frame/fork combo. My Rating: Thumbs up for a road-oriented set-up with this bike frame.

Oh, and you may have noticed the new (old!) front rack I’ve added – more about that next post!

All-rounder Update: 200km Mark

All is well on the bike front, and I’ve now made it up to the 200km mark. I know, not a lot of riding in three weeks, but I’ve been completing the final push of school into exams (I finished my Chemistry exam today, yay! Only physics left, which is tomorrow). The tires are wearing well enough, but the compound of the CST Critters is fairly soft, so even gravel skids have worn the rear tread down a *weensy bit*. Just enough so that the “herringbone” pattern imprinted on each of the knobs is barely visible.

The Herringbone pattern is wearing away quickly…
the skid spots are worse than the above picture.

So far, here’s what I’m liking:

– Off road handling
– On road handling!
– Overall weight
– Load Capability
– Comfortable seat/steam/handlebar height and position
– Top Tube length is good
– Rolling resistance ( Speed!)
– Gear range (it hasn’t been changed from before)

After about 125km offroad (light trails, gravel, a bit of chip seal road and a few muddy+technical bits of singletrack), I’m happy with how well the bike works. Lots of BB clearance for the roots/logs. The CST Critter’s are claimed at 2.1″ wide, but they are closer to 2.0″, in actuality. As many other tires are over-stated for width (see some tire specs here), you could fit a 29 x 2.3″ tire, if you want to really squeeze some large rubber in there. On road, the Critters sap energy, unless they are pumped up to their 65 psi limit. At this pressure, the small contact patch makes it pretty easy to stay going fast.

Below 40 psi, the tire makes a great shock absorber for trails.
Exceeding the reccomended limit is sometimes reccommended. 

The overall wight is 35lbs, complete. This is only 1 lb less than my previous bike, despite its frame weighing a full four pounds more than the O8 frame here. My hypothesis: the wheelset is the heavy hitter here, and adding 750g tires and 200g tubes to each wheel is only exacerbating the problem. When its time for those club rides/ summer rando sessions, you can bet I’ll shed these heavy tires and tubes and go for the 26mm semi-slicks I’ve got tucked away…

The frame nice dimensions to it, and the top tube is perfectly sized out so that the handlebars are not too far away for riding in the drops, and not too close to ride upright in the hoods or using the flat part of the bar. This upright riding is a lifesaver for quick downhill switchbacks & fast offroad turns, as well as getting over roots + rocks. An all-around nice ride quality and comfort.

This cheap Avenir stem is actually quality. Lightweight, and
it allows adjustment for offroad/touring/road handlebar heights.

Ooooh…. “Custom drawn”…. and “airplane grade”:
economic, and still fairly light, Cro-Mo tubing.

Here’s what I’m not so happy about:

– Delayed shifting/ Ghost shifting on rear
– Derailleur cable stop location
– Rear dropouts slightly misaligned
– Rear rack deck height
– Kickstand placement

The 17-year-old Alivio rear derailleur is shot, and has so much play that it allows ghost shifting and shifting under load, but won’t shift when the time comes! A well-loved (aka, used) Deore-level or higher mech. might be finding its way on the back as a replacement – “Bike Pirates” of downtown Toronto has a million of such used derailleurs in a box for dirt cheap. And such good quality derailleurs, if not too badly worn, can be cleaned up and will perform like new. The rear cable stop also poses an odd challenge – it was meant for full-housing cables, so I had to “improvise” with a ziptie, and was placed too far from the derailleur (the cable is almost too short).

I need to replace this. 

The wheel sits slightly too the left in the rear triangle, and I’m fairly sure it is because of the dropouts being misaligned. OTOH, it could be because of my 130-spaced hub, as I did add a washer to the left of the hub, and it helped a bit. The high-up rear rack allows lotsa tire+fender room, but it is so close to the seat, that only a few small bits of camp gear could fit atop it. The kickstand is overly bent, and mounts awkwardly on the rear of this new frame, and so a Pletcher 2-legger may be warranted soon, as well.

The cantilever brakes work well too, but lack a bit of the “punch” that
V-brakes or disks manage to have. No regrets, though.

Overall impressions bode well, and I think this will stay my primary rig for the foreseeable future.

A fine beauty, that!

Screw It; I’m Making Studded Tires

As the title of this post implies, I’ve gone and gotten myself a pair of studded tyres on the cheap – by fabricating them. Those old Chen Shins I had on the bike’s rims came off without a single stud, but went back on with a ice-grippin’ 104 studs per tyre. Total cost: $12.78 for 250 1/2 in. 8-size screws, compared to $100 + tax for the cheapest pair I could find elsewhere (including the interweb).  My time is valueless, so I won’t put a dollar value on the 2 1/2 hours I spent on the endeavor.  

Drilling, and a lot of screwing-in 

On the road, they are really grippy on ice – like being glued to it, even while riding on an outdoor skating rink! But, since the tread pattern isn’t that deep, it still has trouble in the slush or packed snow. On fresh snow, however, it performs quite superbly! One really can notice the clickity-clickity-clickity of the screws on the pavement, and feel the drag also.

Tyre #1, finished – look at that! 1/4 in of spike showing!

Here’s how I done it:
1. Pulled off the tyres
2. Flipped tires inside-out
3. Drilled holes, from outside in, into the knobs I wanted studs in.
4. Spent a whole lotta time screwing screws into these holes, inside to out.
5. Turned tyres back to right-side-in
6. Got duct tape, and covered all the screw heads with multiple layers of tape to prevent puncture
7. Re-install and re-inflate. Be careful – it’s like wrestling with a rosebush!

Mounted and ready to roll!

I plan to get at lest 100km on the tyres this winter, if for nothing else but to measure the longevity of the screws.

Slings ‘n Things

There is going to be a shorter post today – I’ve homework to get though, and a laser-quest game! Yes, laser-quest; I am a Scouter (well, scouter-in-training) with a scout troop (good for the community hours, and having a few outtings isn’t so bad either!), and I’m there supervising tonight. But I get to play too, so I’m not complaining! I’ll post some pics of this later… its sure to be fun. Ahead of time, I would like to apologize for my poor pictures – my Sony DSC just doesn’t cut the mustard anymore.

On friday, my friend and I built some mini-crossbows out of rubber bands and rulers in math class – it was a free period – and perforated apples with ’em. This gave me an idea: what other ‘weapons’ can I fashion from things lying around my house (or school room)? The result: the humble sling, made from cotton twine and a strip of an orphaned sock for the basket.




My homemade sling. Can you believe Goliath got toasted by one of these?

 

Slings work by multiplying the working force upon the stone, by effectively acting as an extension to your arm. One end of the string has a finger loop, the other, knots. You swing the sling to build up momentum, and then release the knotted end, thus throwing the rock. This homemade sling does the trick – it does indeed fling stones a good distance, to about 100 meters. Unfortunately, due to the sock pouch, rock tend to slip out, and also the thin strings always get tangled.
I tested this sling in a park nearby, and got there by biking. It was snowing today, and since I always am looking for an excuse to snow cycle, this testing was one excuse that couldn’t be passed up. Too bad it was a little windy – otherwise, it wasn’t too cold. About -7C by my estimates.



Ignore the purpleness – it was actually quite nice with a white covering of snow everywhere. I had to beware of ice, though. 



Right now, I’m running my ‘winter’ set-up: I’ve switched into some 41mm Chen Shin ‘Dual Sport’ tyres, which really have quite a bit of traction even when at the max. 75 psi. Still like skates on ice, I found out. I’m thinking of ghetto-winterizing the tyres by shoving some tacks through them – anybody out there with advice on this?
Back to the story: Found some rocks and tested it. Knocked a tree ~30m away hard enough to knock down snow from the braches.

Rock in the sling.

 So, for anyone wondering, Yes!… David probably wouldn’t have had a hard time taking down Goliath, especially since he had years of training and I was still able to whack a tree with 5 minutes practice. 

Camera, taking picture from sling. Note: No cameras
were harmed in the taking of this pciture
That’s about it for today, I’m off to do math.