Saturday, January 17, 2015

News And Views: The Day Late Edition!

Ready for hunting season?
Niner Doesn't Do A Fat Bike:

Several days previous to Thursday of this past week, Niner Bikes was teasing a "new model" bike to be revealed the 16th. Rumors were running rampant that they would introduce a fat bike, or maybe a B+/Mid-Fat bike. Thankfully, and wisely- they did neither of those things.

Now I can hear you out there, (well......not really, but it is a figure of speech!), saying something like "why in the world would you think that they shouldn't do a fat bike?" That's easy........because everyone is doing a fat bike. Honestly- there are so many fat bikes now I cannot imagine the marketplace has moved to seeing them as mountain bikes enough to support more entries into the market now. Later? Maybe. Things like the Bucksaw, King Kahn, and Foes new full suspension fatty might start a change there, but it will take a while.

Anywho....Niner basically evolved the three models they waved their wand over, and in a world where most companies are pushing the next big thing, it is refreshing to see a company not only refine, but push mid to entry level bikes in their line ups to new levels.

Carbon rim, knobbly tire, and tubelessness = awesome.
Fat Bike Tubeless:

I recently had the opportunity to build a set of fat bike carbon fiber rim wheels and set the tires up tubeless. Here's my take on the system- the Whiskey #9 rim, and the 45NRTH Vanhelga tires, which are rated tubeless ready.

Whiskey #9 rim: Now this isn't my first rodeo with carbon rims. I've built a few sets dating way back to 2003. I know what carbon rims feel like when built, and I have to say that the Whiskey #9 rims acted more like their metallic brethren than not. They were out of round by a tic, untrue by a tic, and one was slightly less in diameter than the other. All things not uncommon at all with run of the mill aluminum rims, but definitely not what I expected from rims that cost this much and made from carbon fiber. Does it really matter? Well, you should expect better tolerances at these prices, but really, as long as I was able to true it all up- no. It doesn't really matter. It just is. 

As for the tubeless nature of these rims, well they worked perfectly with the Vanhelgas. More on that in a bit....

Vanhelga Tires: Okay, first off, the tread pattern is aggressive, the tread blocks are soft, but they don't just fold over, and the bead talon looked really good from the aspect of being tubeless ready. I didn't weigh these, but they felt reasonably light. Now for mounting. Oh my God! The fit the first time was super tight. My hands ached for two days after mounting these with tubes to set the tape on the inside of the rim well. Oh.......and the rim tape flat out sucks. If you buy Whiskey #9 rims, you will get a roll of this worthless blue tape. Tell your wheel tech, or if you build yourself, be advised, not to use the stuff. I got it to work, but Stan's would be waaaaay better. Why? Because the Whiskey tape is stiff, non-compliant, and wrinkles if you look at it sideways. Trust me, it is one of the worst tubeless tapes I have ever been exposed to. on to the good stuff!

The tires set up with a simple floor pump. I used Dawn dish soap in a straight from the bottle application to the beads to allow them to pop into place easily. I got the beads to set up at 20psi this way. There was zero leakage from the beads or valve stem (Which is the excellent Bontrager valve stem, by the way). I used 6oz of Stan's in each tire and after a couple wrinkles in the tape were sealed up, I had no leakage after 48 hours. Good to go.

The Vanhelgas on the 70mm wide Whiskey rims were about 5mm wider than the 45NRTH Dillingers on Marge Lites and waaay lighter. A worthy upgrade here. These are not my wheels nor is it my bike, but if I get further feedback, I'll pass it along.

Bottom Line: Expensive, but effective tubeless system for fat bikes with a few "wrinkles" that need ironing out.

Snow tested.
Blackborow DS Update Coming Soon:

I have had the Blackborow DS in the snow a couple of times since I got it, but I want to see if we get some truly deep, thick snow cover before I give my final assessment on this new model from Salsa Cycles.

So far, I have seen the bike do things that I was hoping for. It is more stable due to great geometry and wider, grippier tires and wide rims. Those Lou tires have a really good roll on hard pack or pavement, but those paddles really give me greater traction than I've ever experienced on a fat bike before. The "DS" part has been rust free and has given me no worries so far. This is especially good seeing as how I have dealt with wet, "car snow" of late, which is usually the worst thing for bicycle drive trains around here.

Finally, I have taken note of a couple of negative comments left on the Salsa Anything Cage HD review I did and I have tested for those comments. A review update is coming which I think you might find very interesting from the stand point of how the straps work with non-round and smaller water bottle type loads.

Okay- that's a wrap. Have a great weekend and ride yer bikes!

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