Friday, November 25, 2016

Friday News And Views

Wet & Chilly
Waiting For The White Stuff:

Well, by the time you read this, we may already have some. It is in the forecast off and on nearly every day of late. Snow. It is coming sooner than later.

That said, there are 50 degree days forecast as well for the next few days. I'm planning on taking advantage of that for a few reasons. But I am not waiting for "good" weather to ride. Nope. I'm riding whenever I can.

Tuesday I rode in a cold, driving rain from work. Wednesday I rode in a chilly, wet, muddy aftermath of all that rain out on the gravel North of the city. Like the old saw goes: "There is no such thing as bad weather for cycling, just poor clothing choices." To a point, that's my philosophy. I do have my limits though! For instance, I don't ride if it is in the single digits with a double digit below zero wind chill, because, well.......that's stupid. There is no reason to do that since it becomes a huge risk to my health and even my life at that point. Plus, I don't have to ride. There are those poor souls who do tackle that stuff out of necessity. I see them from time to time.

Fall lasted so long that I am still fishing out my cold weather gear and putting summer garb aside. I suspect Winter will progress to a snowy mode sooner than it did last year, so the fat bike will soon be seeing duty.

Salsa Cycles Timberjack 27.5+ rig
Limited Time Engagement?

A certain undercurrent is rising concerning the B+/27.5+ wheels and tires for mountain biking. I've seen it mentioned in reviews and on forums, but I now see a big time media outlet saying it outright. 27.5+ is doomed.

If you pay attention to what folks are saying that have ridden these beasts, you know that tire pressure is a big, big deal. The reason for this is that big, voluminous tires will get squirmy if set too low and bouncy and hard if set too high with air pressure. Big deal, right? All tires will do that, right?

True, but when it comes to these tires, the 650B X 3 inchers, the air pressure changes are critical to getting the performance "right". A change of even 1psi can be drastic and make a wheel feel awesome, or like a marshmallow. Blame sidewall support, or to be more precise, the lack of it, for the issues being reported here. To get stiffer sidewalls, more material would have to be added to a tire's casing. That isn't desirable since it would dramatically increase the weight of the tire.

So, what's the solution? Well, it seems that the industry is wanting to pull back the 650B offerings to 2.5"-2.8" at the max. Basically, not plus sized. So, will the industry get what it wants and will there be riders that drive this? Maybe. I don't know. But it does bear watching.

Danged gizmos!
Sometimes You Get Lucky:

So, I've been dabbling in the gizmotronic side of cycling with this Lezyne Super GPS. It's okay. I'm not wowed or blown away, but it does a job and I can appreciate that. Everything so far has been somewhat trouble free. That is until last Wednesday.

I went for a ride and the Super GPS was working just fine. Speed, data, and time were being recorded. Then I got home. Whoops! Don't forget to turn it off!

See, this is the first step backward on these deals. You have to turn it on and off. Do you turn your CatEye Velo 9 on and off? No! You don't even think about that. It does that for you. So, what is the deal, techno freaks? Why should I have to suddenly start turning my device on and off? Weird.

Okay, rant over.... Kind of. See, I went to turn it off and you have to not only push a button, but you have to hold it for a couple of seconds. Again......really? This is better than before? Okay.... Back on track! I inadvertently pushed another button as I squeezed the off button. I heard an abbreviated sound, then......frozen screen! 

So, I have no idea that I had done anything wrong, and now the buttons did nothing! So, I tried hooking it up to the computer, but that resulted in nothing again. So, I was thinking maybe by running the battery down and then plugging it into the computer to recharge it might work, but who knows how long that it might take to drain the battery? I was foooling around with my son, while telling him about it, and I jokingly said, "Maybe I should just push ALL the buttons! Like this!", and I simultaneously pushed all four buttons.

It worked.

The computer turned off, and I could turn it back on again. So, I learned that much about this gizmo!

That's all for this week. Have a great weekend, y'all!


Bob said...

RE b+, It seemed like a good idea at the time. Never got much out of it either and then discovered 45c tires run at low 30's psi works better for my current biking needs.

phillip Cowan said...

Speaking of riding in bad weather I've been meaning to ask your opinion on something. Drum brakes. Let me preface this by saying I know zippity doo da about drums. I've never owned or worked on any and don't know anyone who has. Internet opinions range from flaming aweful to not too bad if set up right. Actually I'm reading that the new Sturmey-Archers (Sunrace) are pretty good. It seems that in flat country a brake that basically impervious to water and grit would be beneficial. And since riding on gravel can be like riding on ball bearings super braking power isn't really required. Any thoughts?

GravelDoc said...

I recall a past GTP post that discussed applying suspension to fat bikes to help control issues such as bounce. Do you think that would be applicable to 27.5+ as well? Though I've never ridden one, I would think a full squish B+ would make a pretty keen trail bike.

Guitar Ted said...

@phillip Cowan- Drum brakes are a bit behind in the R&D and technical advancement categories where disc brakes are getting all the attention. So, let's assume someone would make a "high end" drum brake. Such a thing does not really exist currently.

Drum brakes are mechanical in nature, so it would be imperative to keep weather and grit out of the system. I think that could be done better than what we have now. Also, I do not think that leverage ratios for cable pull, maximum effect on the drum, or drum brake lining/drum surfaces has been changed or optimized in quite some time.

If these issues, along with weight of the system were to be addressed, then yes, it would be a viable competing system for gravel/mudders/fat bikes/tourists. A way to manage a through axle system along with that would be awesome.

That said, due to the very nature of drum brakes, I don't see how that a drum brake could be anywhere as light as disc brakes or cantilevers. I also do not see any huge braking performance advantages, besides the obvious weather-environment proofing that drum brakes could provide. So, in the grand scheme of things, given a high end drum brake effort, I still do not see riders going with that vs disc or cantilever brakes. Not to a degree that would warrant such a system.

But that's just my opinion. I very well could be way off. Personally, a super cool, aluminum, finned drum brake system sounds really rad. I'd love to see it properly done, but I do not feel it would be a competitive brake in the marketplace.

Guitar Ted said...

@GravelDoc- I believe the industry has taken into account the dynamics of fatter, higher volume tires, but even if that were dialed in across the board, it still doesn't account for the tires themselves.

The dynamics of tire deformation is what needs to be addressed here, and as I alluded to in my post, by doing that, tire manufacturers would have no choice but to add weight. The stiffening of the side walls of plus sized tires would require more layers, more material, and that equals more weight. No way around that, and riders wouldn't appreciate the negative effects that would have on ride quality.

It's a situation that may have a solution, but it might be beyond reasonable costs and efforts to get there. Especially in a down time in the cycling industry when no one out there is really doing well financially. If anything, I foresee a short time of little innovation due to the way the market is performing now. So, the best way to address that at this time is to pull back from plus sized wheels/tires if riders are not digging the performance aspects of B+ in hard cornering and for aggressive riding. That's my take on this.

phillip Cowan said...

It's no secret that drums have an image problem, being closely associated with british roadsters and tweed. What got me to thinking about it is that I'm building a Guv'nor style path racer. It's just for fun and I have most of the parts lying about already. It's never gonna be more than a coffee shop bike. Still the idea of showing up for a gravel ride with cream colored Delta Cruisers and all really appeals to my perverse sense of humor. I'm going to build a wheelset for it just so I can play around with the drums. I'll probably use A23 rims just in case Schwalbe comes out with tubeless Delta Cruisers,haha. Thanks for your input.

Jon said...

I use a 27.5x3 on the rear and a 26x4 on the front of my mountain bike. The b+ on the rear levels the bike up, being essentially the same rolling diameter as the front tire.

It's a trail/bikepacking bike, not a racer, so ultimate performance is not my goal. Due to that, I've been satisfied with the tire. I just hope the size doesn't totally disappear.

Mac said...

I have a five mile partial commute that I can call off in the evening, but not the morning (car in an intermediate location). My limits are -20 F windchill, or snow predicted to affect the morning commute. Beyond that, I try to ride-- but I am more willing to call off a ride for cold rain than just plain cold.

Anonymous said...

Ritchey WCS VentureMax

Dashton said...

Seems like most of the anti B+ rhetoric is from a racing perspective. Average Joe's seem to be eating B+ up. I love my Cube stereo 150 B+. A dmfun all day machine.

Smithhammer said...

@Dashton - agreed. I think it's hilarious that following a year in which we've seen huge growth in the amount of B+ options, even in comparison to just the year before it, we know have so-called experts pronouncing that B+ is suddenly "dead." I'm trying to figure out what planet these people live on, but I'm equally glad that it's apparently a different planet than mine. Racing sucks. ;-)