Monday, January 12, 2015


1988 Strat Plus- That isn't yellow, by the way!
This hasn't been the start to the year that I was hoping for. It's been off and on again sickness across the entire family. There was one day last week when three of us were bed ridden. Saturday and Sunday were barely tolerable, and the bike riding that everyone else was doing was sure hard to take in as I was feeling awful and needing to rest.

Well, me being me- I don't like resting during the day, or much at all, and I did go out and about a little bit. I needed to drop off my daughter at a friend's house so I took the opportunity to drag my 1988 Stratocaster Plus to Bob's Guitars to see if they had a locking tuner knob for it. One had fallen off and before I could notice it, had gotten lost.

I've known "Bob" of Bob's Guitars since he worked for another music store years ago where I had purchased this particular Strat from him. He's been through another partnership in a music store from where I purchased my main amplifier, and now he owns this store himself. I've had a "relationship", of sorts with Bob, and he treats me right. For instance, even his employees have paid attention, and they know that I am paying on a new Taylor for my wife's Master's Degree "reward". They found the locking tuner knob, a perfect match, and did not charge me.

So, why do I bring all that up? Well, I was thinking that in this day and age of Internet retail, what online can't do for you is "have a relationship with benefits" like the one I enjoy with Bob's Guitars. Think about that when you look for a local bike shop. And local bike shops- you need to really think about this! 

A "Mid-Fatted" Fargo
 So, anyway, I got to play on the Strat Saturday loudly for a while when Mrs. Guitar Ted and Jacob went out on errands. It was great to have that guitar all back in one piece. Then I hoped for a better Sunday, and perhaps a bicycle ride.

However; it wasn't to be. Still feeling rotten, I had to take it easy again. After a long morning and early afternoon, I decided to fiddle with an idea I had on the back burner for Springtime. I was going to try to fit the WTB Trailblazer/Velocity Blunt 35 wheels on my Gen 2 Fargo. So, I decided to push up the time table on that project and get it done. I had done this on my Gen 1 Fargo as well, but the mud clearances were not the greatest. So, in the interim I have had these wheels on my OS Bikes Blackbuck and on my Sawyer with the belt drive.

Good clearances here.
On the Fargo Gen 2, the wheels went in with no problem, and as a bonus there was better mud clearances! This looked like a much better fit than in the Gen 1 Fargo. I was excited so I got a "permission slip" to get out of the house free for a bit to test out how this combination felt and handled. Nothing big, just a couple miles at most. I popped on some plastic flats so I didn't have to waste a bunch of time with fussy Winter cycling footwear and headed outdoors.

The Blunt 35's with the Trailblazers makes for a decent set up. The tire isn't flattened out too much, and the rim supports the tires tubeless really well. I ran about 20-ish psi, but with the air temperatures in the low 20's Fahrenheit, that was effectively something in the teens. Into some looser, deep snow, and the bike squirreled around a bit, but it didn't want to swap ends like a skinnier tire might. Okay, that fast spin up is there yet for sure, and the resulting lack of momentum as well. Still, you can barrel over some things and the stability and comfort are there also.

You don't get that heavy, slow to accelerate 29+ feeling, but the rest of it seems to be close. When the trails open up in Springtime, I'll know more about the true, off road feel and performance with this bike. I think I will live with these on the Fargo Gen 2 awhile though. The wide range triple drive train is well suited to these wheels, and in my estimation, single speed usage, while fun, wasn't where this wheel type shines best. They just scrub off too much momentum, and while single speeding, momentum is king. So back to 29"er wheels there, and these Mid-Fats on a geared bike. Then I'll decide what I think. These still seem like a good choice for really rough, looser, back road events like Odin's Revenge to me, but if I cannot live with how they feel on gravel then I think my experimenting will be done. If they make it through that, then they stay on. Time will tell.


Galen Murray said...

I'm running that exact setup on my Gen2 Fargo.

I've been riding it mostly on snow packed single track and the rear end wants to slide around but not too bad. The rear slips when trying to climb and makes the climbs tough. I wonder if a little knobbier version would be better for snow riding.

I am thinking of the Vee Trax Fatty in 3.25 wide for the front. Any experience with that tire?

Guitar Ted said...

@Galen Murray: I have not tried a Trax Fatty. I'm not particularly motivated to buy another Vee Tire product since the two I have tried, (Sterling and a gravel tire) have been let downs compared to other company's products.

I'm waiting it out. Other brands will be producing these tires soon enough.

Leslie said...

On one hand, I agree... example, the other day, while I was by my LBS, I mentioned that I could use additional padding inside my helmet, asked if they had additional pads for sale. They took the little pads out of another helmet's box and let me cure my hot-spots, gratis. That was wonderful.

But I disagree about it not being possible to have as good a relationship with an online retailer, if it's a good retailer. I had a new water bottle lid crack; I was ordering some other stuff through my online bike shop (Rivendell), and in the order field, asked if they could include a replacement lid on my bill. They sent a whole replacement bottle, also for free, since they didn't have bottle lids in the catalog as an item. I've actually become online friends with several of the employees at Riv (and through calls), even though Grant is the only one I've met in person.

I will concur, though, it wouldn't be the same if I was calling Performance Bike or Nashbar or Niagara.

But if a company works at it, like RBW, it is possible for them to be an LBS to someone on the other side of the continent...

Eric Fussenegger said...

The farce looks good with B+, I hope you enjoy it. I managed to squeeze a set of Gravity Vidars (29x3 on the sidewall, I don't have calipers to measure) on Blunt 35's int my Ogre Frame. I have about 3.5mm clearance at the stays, with the wheel all the way back in the dropouts. 2x7 drivetrain, no rub. Even with the limited gear range, I think this will be a good setup, it is much quicker / faster than my Pugsley but more squirrelly (still need to play with pressure, rode today at 15 psi). Had it out for a couple hours on RR ballast/ snow today, kind of a poor man's ECR!

Guitar Ted said...

@Leslie: What you describe is "good customer service", not what I would deem a "personal, business relationship", but then again, maybe I am even more "old school" than Grant Petersen.

Unless there is face to face relational exchange, I cannot even fathom how one could call a digital exchange, a "relationship" in the same manner as I have at Bob's Guitars. It's like saying texting is "conversation".

If that suits you, well then......

Leslie said...

Don't get me wrong, I'm not discounting the face-to-face aspect. I understand how you would feel having been friends w/ the same fella through different shops, and are maintaining that ongoing history.

But even these that I've not yet met in person, I still call them friendships. Bike-wise: Through your blog here, I know I'd trust your opinion, and I'd be comfortable picking up the phone and calling you at the bike shop for help, even though I've not met you. I'd call Hiawatha Cyclery, or Harris Cyclery, or etc etc etc., and know I could trust them, maybe even more than some LBS's that I've personally been in. Most of the folks on my friends on Facebook are folks I 'personally know', that I've met in person, but, there's several bike-folk that I'm looking forward to meeting in person if ever it can happen. (I hope to meet you one day, too, even...)