Monday, November 18, 2013

New Shoes For By-Tor Part 2

Wet leaves and dirt
Saturday was a toss up on what I would ride. Gravel or dirt? In the end, due to the possibility of rain, wind, and lightning, the dirt ride won out. And I didn't miss out on the rain either!

The word was that the Ingawanis Woods trails were being blown off and raked, but that maybe they would just ride the leaves into submission. I figured the new Sterling tires would do well at steamrolling those leaves down so we could see the trail better, so that is what I took up there with me.

On the way up, I realized that I do not think I had ever ridden By-Tor at the trails up there. The Snow Dog made the trip on Global Fat Bike Day last year, but I do not think the titanium bike had ever been there. Well, with the new, theoretically grippier tires, it should have been okay. I decided that I would air down the pressure if things got out of hand, so I left the higher pressures in there, probably close to 20psi front and rear.

When I got up there, several folks were already there busily doing trail maintenance. (I thank each and every one of you very much, by the way.) I unloaded and got moving along. Now- not knowing these tires, how the pressures I had them at would affect things, or how the rain and showers that were happening had affected the trail, I was taking it very cautiously. Would I be slipping out? Would I be ricocheting off every root and rock?  Would these tires not have very good grip? I had a lot of critical unknowns going in.

Early signs were that the tires are good here.
By the way, after several days at 20psi, these tires have stretched......a tiny bit! Where before they were just a hair over 3.8" they are now 3.9" wide/97.8mm on 70mm rims. Okay, with that bit of info, keep in mind that I also thought the contact patch would be bigger than a Surly Larry 3.8 aired down at a lower pressure, say like 8-10psi. I was right about that part. It is obvious that the Sterling is getting every knob in play. Considering that the Sterling's casing is actually wider than the tread area, you are likely getting about 3.7" wide contact area on tacky trail surfaces. (The trails were actually in great shape!)

To my mind, that is a "win" over the older Larry, and even over the Big Fat Larry I ran before it. At least on dirt, I see the Sterling being a winner in the traction department. But what about that dreaded "self-steer" that flatter tires can suffer from?  I have to say that I didn't notice any self-steering traits on the trails I was on. The tires steered as well if not maybe a shade better than the Larrys, but that may be due to better grip with the Sterling. It certainly didn't show me any self-steering traits though.

The ride feel was solid, as in a bit jarringly solid. That probably is due to the higher pressures I was running, and the rigid nature of the bike, but it wasn't bad. I committed to just sticking to the air pressure I had to eliminate one variable. As things went along, I gained more confidence in the grip level and the trail surfaces, (which were tacky perfection, since they were newly uncovered by leaf blowers mere minutes before my passage), and I was moving along a bit more quickly than before at the start. By the end of it, I was pleased with the Sterlings as a dirt tire. I think with a bit of air pressure tweaking, they could be really good.

How this bodes for snow riding is yet to be seen.  That's the final test. If they pass there, I think I will be rather pleased with these new shoes!

2 comments:

Chris Mack said...

any thoughts on the vee snowshoe tires? i'm debating between the snowshoe, the sterling and the on one floater as more affordable snow specific tire options.

Guitar Ted said...

@Chris Mack: Well, I can only base my thoughts on what I've read. That would indicate to me that the casings and tread compounds are very similar to these Sterling tires. The Snowshoe is supposed to be bigger, but is it really? That is a question I don't know that anyone has had a chance to answer with a direct comparison.

So, I would say it seems that performance should be similar to the Sterlings, but that is merely a guess at this juncture.