Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Different Flavor

Drop bar bike, 40mm tires, and single track. Why not?
I was talking with a customer at the shop the other day whom I have known for many years. We were reminiscing about a trip we shared to Vail, Colorado to ride mountain bikes in 1994. It was two weeks before the World Mountain Bike Championships. There were several foreign athletes there preparing for the biggest mtb event on the calendar.

Well, this customer and I were trading stories of our time there when it came to our mind that we were riding on what amounts to antique equipment, compared to today's steeds. Hard tails were the order of the day. If you were cutting edge, you might have a front suspension device sporting a whopping 63mm of travel. Otherwise the "working man's rig" usually was a steel hard tail with a rigid fork.

So what? Well, keep in mind that the UCI Worlds were there and that downhill was part of that championship weekend. Otherwise known as "DH", the likes of which today is contested on bikes that do not resemble XC rigs at all. Dual suspension, of course, and eight inches of travel, or round abouts. Okay.....so we rode the DH course. Yes.....on hard tails. Not only that, but some of us that went out did some back country riding, not unlike what you might see in an enduro event today. On hard tails.

It might surprise you if you try it.
 Now, I am not at all trying to say that we were tougher, more core, or whatever. We were just riding like anybody else, and back then, this was normal. People cleared trails without dabbing without suspension. Folks did stuff that, back then, wasn't weird, out of the ordinary, or seen as being "more pure" than........well, whatever. You get the drift. It was what it was.

So anyway, here I was the other day riding local single track on a drop bar gravel road bike with 40mm tires. I was reminded of that conversation and "the old days". I was having fun and doing things on that bike that maybe many wouldn't think to try, or want to try. I get it. You don't have to buy in to using one bicycle for everything. But if I could only have one bike, this type of bike would be it.

Road, gravel, single track, this bike can do all of that, and pretty well too. Now, of course, I don't have to stick to one bike, and I won't. However; if you are looking for a "one bike solution", especially in the Mid-West, you could do a whole lot worse than this type of bike. It's certainly a way to do it.

4 comments:

Doug Mayer said...

Through some quirk of bike trends at the time, I got into CX and monstercross-style riding via a Surly Cross Check before ever riding a true mountain bike. I remember getting a few comments about 'skinny tires', but it worked! And taught me heaps.

all/bjl said...

Real Question: How'd them Maxxis Ravagers work on the singletrack?
Rhetorical Question: Why's Maxxis gotta use the carbon bead that my American Classic rims don't like?!
Bryan

youcancallmeAl said...

Not quite the same, but as someone who only WANTS ONE bike, I find an early nineties Kona Explosif with 26x1.75' tires, mountain gearing,strong lightweight frame,tight geometry,project 2 rigid fork to be very close to the ideal bike capable of doing anything my old body is up to.

Bob said...

My experience the last bit here using 45c Riddlers on I24 rims, one tubed and one tubeless, on my first ever drop bar bike has been eye opening. The setup continues to surprise me how well it rolls on all surfaces at all speeds. I don't need or want a sus post or fork as at the lower 30psi I seem to be able to get away with they soak up grit and gravel like magic. My bike handles anything outside of really gnarly single track which I reserve for my mtb anyway. Not that I have been riding that much the last 3 months!

To me it boils down to the lowest psi that one can use without squirm and it is my feeling that rim width has as much or more to do with this than tire width as I also run 15psi on I35 rims with 2.2/3 tires on my mtb now for a few years and that has been just as much of an epiphany. My problem is I don't like a wide low psi tire on the front as it messes with my concept of proper, for me, steering that I have cultivated over the last 33 yrs but do enjoy the traction and compliance that the lower psi affords.