Friday, July 08, 2011

Friday News And Views

Let's Try This Again...
Gates Redux: You may have read on this blog last year about my Gates Carbon Drive belt experiences, which weren't all that encouraging. Well, Gates hasn't been sleeping, and are working on solutions.

The latest is called "Center Track" and as the name suggests, the belt has a groove in the center that "tracks" along a ridge in the center of each cog. This has the effect of keeping the belt aligned on the cogs despite slight discrepancies caused by misaligned cogs, or flexing due to pedaling. The Center Track technology steps up the belt width to 12mm as well, which also alleviates tension issues, according to Gates.

I'm going to mount this on the Trek, Gary Fisher Collection Sawyer. Well, in fact, I did. Trouble is that due to a very limited number of Center Track combinations available now, the belt I have was juuuusssst a bit too short. It wouldn't work. So, Gates is sending out another, longer belt, which ironically enough, will be almost too long. Strike one: "The Chain"  is more adjustable than "The Belt". (But we already knew that from last time.) It's still true. More to come......

Ergon HE2 Gloves: Ergon, the company known for its grips and backpacks, has now branched out into gloves. The HE2 by Ergon is the one I am trying out now. It is Ergon's take on a glove for endurance riding and all mountain pursuits. I'll tell ya this much right off the bat: It ain't like any other glove you've had your mitts in.

First of all, I'll say that almost any cycling glove gives my hands fits. Too snug and my hands go numb, almost instantly. I was recently pleased to find some gloves that made my hands really happy, but the Ergon HE2 needed trying out, so I laid those aside for a while.

The HE2 fits like a second skin. Like a race jersey for your hands. The feel is startling at first. In fact, I was sure that within minutes I would be hating them for making my hands go numb. The tips were right against my finger tips, almost to the point of having the seam go under my finger nails. This was also disconcerting at first, but I gave them a tryout anyway.

After a few uses, the gloves stretched just a bit, and the feeling of snugness went away, for the most part. Still, they fit like a second skin, and you know what? My hands never went numb. Not even for a second. On the bike, they were great, almost like not wearing gloves, but better. Grip is enhanced, and of course, with that snug fit, tactile feel is top notch. In fact, these are the only gloves I've ever worn that I didn't want to immediately peel off to do something like use a tool, reach into a pocket for something, or pick up something off the ground. I could text with them on, and even operate the tiny buttons on my Panasonic LX-3 camera. Pretty impressive!

However; I found it almost radical that Ergon did not put on any "nose wiper" material on the thumb, or back of the glove. (Can it even be a cycling glove then?) I also did not like the Velcro closure, finding it too tight, short in length, and restricting. And my wrists are pretty small for a guy my size. I would like to see Ergon adopt a closure, or more appropriately, an opening that simply stretched wide for entry, and then relaxed, like the aforementioned gloves I linked to. Finally, for a rough and tumble glove meant for endurance racing, back country, and all mountain use, the lack of finger tip protection on the outside/back of the fingers, and the "euro-trash", driving gloves styling were odd here.(Note: There is a really nice "pad" of carbon-fiber-like material to protect the heel of your palm.)

Did I like them? No, not at first, but I did end up grabbing them over the others for a recent ride. They are pretty darn good gloves, as long as you can get by the snug fit, sparse features, and the quirky styling. I guess I don't dislike them, and I may end up really liking them in the end. They just are so different. Now I just have to get them and the helmet I left behind back in a Suburban in Northfield back again! (DOH!) A final review will be seen on The Cyclist soon.

Speaking of Northfield.... That criterium deal fried my legs and feet. I don't know what it was, but my legs have been like two limp meat-sticks since that Monday in the sun, and I have been super tired all week. I just hope I can recover soon.

Okay, ya'all have a great weekend, and hopefully you all get some fun, adventurous, and safe bicycling in this weekend.

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