Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

May your roads be smooth and safe this weekend!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Guitar Ted Productions wishes you and yours a Happy Holiday and hopefully some great riding as well to burn off that feast you ate, (or are about to eat.).

This year I'm sticking around the G-Ted ranch and spending time with my family.

I'll be back again tomorrow with a post, so stay tuned. Once again, thank you for checking in and reading the scribin' here.  It is much appreciated. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Special Edition News And Views

Imagine that this actually says "Donnelly" and not Clement.
Donnelly MSO 50mm Tire:

When it has been possible, I have been riding this MSO tire. You might say, "big deal!", and I wouldn't blame you if it was a 40mm or smaller MSO. But it isn't a 40mm. This is a 50mm tire. It is a lot like the Terrene Honali, only with more tread. The MSO weighs a touch more, and is actually about the same size overall. The puncture protection belt is there as well. Not surprisingly then, they both ride quite similarly.

Now I cannot imagine many racers wanting to use this beast of a tire, (the term "beast" used in relative terms here), because for one thing, not many gravel bikes will actually have the clearance for this tire. But I can imagine this being a Tour Divide tire. I can imagine this as a Fagro-ish tire for those wanting to finish Dirty Kanza, or a like event. I can imagine it as the tire one puts on a 29"er for dry single track and as a gravel bike tire too.

I have this set mounted to my Pofahl single speed which I have been having fun riding of late. It is nice that I was able to integrate reviewing a set of tires with riding this old friend again. The fit is really good. I'd forgotten how it felt to ride. The weather is turning against me though, and the time I have to spend on it in 2017 is drawing to a close. Hopefully I'll get a few more rides in before the snows and cold come to stay so I can get this review wrapped up.

Vittoria Terreno Mix and Terreno Dry tires
Vittoria Gravel Treads:

These gravel/all-road/adventure tires keep coming. It is quite amazing to me yet that all these specific purpose tires are coming out. I still remember when people were using Schwalbe Marathon Extremes for everything gravel because that was one of the only reliable, bigger volume tires available for gravel travel.

In the past, just having a design specific to gravel travel seemed like a dream to me. Then tubeless designs came and I was floored. Now actual high end technologies are being employed which are simply just astounding. Take these Graphene infused samples from Vittoria that I have here. The claim is that these are going to have a stiffer tread in straight lines and softer in corners, in braking situations, and for climbing. Whoa! That's just weird.

So, I guess I'll put these on some wheels and give them a go. Who knows? Maybe all this science stuff will actually work. Then again, maybe it won't be such a big deal. However that works out in the end, the fact that the cycling industry is putting this kind of effort into tires for adventure/all-road/gravel bikes shows that this deal has come a long way and seems to be the focus in the industry now.

A frosty morning commute not long ago.
Brown Season:

Fall is over. Yeah........I know. The calendar still says it is Fall. Weather-wise it isn't Fall anymore. It is the Brown Season. That time when everything is dead and the snow isn't here to whiten things up yet.

The winds from the Northwest bite and they are strong. Like up to 40mph strong yesterday. My luck, the route to work is dead Northwest. Right into the teeth of it.

And while it may sound cliche', my commute to work is mostly uphill. Really. So with that wind, the cold, and everything brown and dead, my commutes have been rather cheerless of late. Well, true......going home has been fine. Fast even. That part is good at least.

We've had a brief coating of frost a few mornings, and even some fog to make things interesting, but this brown thing doesn't set well with me. That and the shorter days. It can get on me and make me feel grey. I know that a lot of folks feel that way this time of year. Getting outside helps. Riding a bicycle seems to do the trick for me.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I'll be taking the day off here. I hope that you all have a wonderful day doing whatever it is that you have going on. I'll have a regular post going on Friday here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Velocity Gets Fat- Finally!

Velocity drops a hint on Facebook
Several years ago when I was going to attempt my third Triple D fat bike race, Velocity USA got a hold of me to ask if I wanted to try a pair of 26" Duallys laced to fat bike hubs so I could go tubeless. I said, "Sure!", and the next thing ya know I am rolling tubeless on a fat bike. It was revelatory, those tubeless rubber doughnuts, and I knew from that point on that tubeless tires for fat bikes would make a lot of sense. Probably more so than with any other type of bike.

I was asking the Velocity crew back then if they were going to get into fat bike hubs and "real" fat bike rims, but the answer was "not yet". Apparently "not yet" is 2018.

I ran across some Velocity fat bike hubs already on an online retailer's site. I had not heard any "official" rumblings of such a thing, and knowing Velocity, I figured that they would have trumpeted such a feat. I was right, it was confirmed when I saw that Velocity has now dropped this hint on Facebook and Instagram which are identical to the fat bike hubs I saw online.

Using the "Big" in the Facebook post and the font I see on the carbon rim as a hint, I am going to say that Velocity USA is teaming up with HED to offer fat bike wheels. This makes sense as HED is pretty stinky about how these rims of theirs get laced up, and Velocity USA is a pro level wheel house, so having them lace up wheels is probably a safe bet for HED. Velocity cannot extrude (yet) their own aluminum fat bike rims, so, again, it makes complete sense for them to source a fat bike hub, brand it, and lace it in-house to a HED Big Deal carbon rim. (Or a Big Fat Deal Rim)

I am sure they won't be cheap, but a set of these on one of my fat bikes would be so nice! I'll have to wait and see what is up with the details which are coming soon.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Bikes Of 2017

It is that time of year when I start reviewing the bikes that got me through 2017. Many of these bikes have been tweaked and changed so I will talk about that and why they were important to me this past year.

The bike that once was so unreliable I wouldn't ride it.
 The Surly 1 X 1:

This isn't a glamorous bike. It probably isn't even a "cool" bike, but as far as the bikes I own now, this one is the most utilitarian, and therefore, the most used bike I have.

It is also the lowest maintenance bike I own. Single speed, dead simple wheels and tires, set up tubeless, and old school cantilever brakes. There really isn't much to go wrong here.

I like this bike since I can lock it up and not worry too much about it getting stolen with its bolt on wheels. I need to put a traditional seat collar on it as it still sports a QR seat post clamp, but hey! A guy has to risk something! Ha! But besides that, the main thing I really enjoy are the wheels.

Sure....they are 26 inch wheels. I know some of you find that ironic. But this is a total street bike, not a mountain bike for me. Big difference. I would also submit that this is a 26" plus bike, since the tires are ginormous. That volume makes for a super cush ride. The tubeless part has been really good too. The tires fit sooooo tight on the Velocity Cliffhangar rims and the Surly Extraterrestrial tires are thick so that I think air retention is better than most set ups. Anyway, I've only had to re-up on sealant once. That's a big difference from the wheels I used on this to start out with that had tubed Panaracer tires. I couldn't ride it a mile without flatting. It was so frustrating I nearly mothballed this bike.

I run these tires at no more than 20 psi, for any reason, and the front is a tic under that. The reason I feel these are really "plus sized" 26"ers is that the tire pressure is super sensitive. Too much and the tires get bouncy and lose that smooth ride. Too low and they get real draggy feeling, and all that with only a couple of psi swing either way. Much like plus tires react.

Honestly, if the 1X1 weren't a "legacy bike", the bike that has been passed down from one Europa Cycles mechanic to another, I would probably get rid of it and put these wheels on a Surly Troll. One that was a size bigger and it would have a lot more versatility. But alas, this cannot happen because of the situation. And really, this bike does the commute to work so well in so many different kinds of weather, it wouldn't be the same if it were a brand new Troll. Something about 18 years worth of nicks, scrapes, and stickers that makes it something a bit more special than an ordinary 1X1.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Minus Ten Review- 46

The Badger as it appears now in 2017
Ten years ago on the blog I didn't have much up for images, but there were a few of my bare framed Badger. I had not gotten it built up yet then as I was not very flush with cash. You know, as a bike shop employee in the Mid-West, not much has changed in that regard since that time!

This year I did get the Badger built back up in much the same way as I had envisioned it being back in 2007. Mostly silver components and nice wheels and tires. But it just wasn't to be back in 2007/2008. Things were taking off with the "Twenty Nine Inches" gig and time was short. Any extra money and time I could generate was funneled toward making TNI, and the couple of other website ventures I had going on then, work at least in a minimally effective capacity. Personal build projects like the Badger or my long running efforts to bring back my Karate Monkey to life were put on the back burner. Like, for years. 

The Trans Iowa v4 registration was still ongoing at this time ten years ago. This would have marked the first year that staged registration was used. Previously anyone and everyone's cards or online registration was accepted through a pre-set time period. But for v4 and beyond, the registration was done in a manner reflecting the "Winners/Finishers first, everybody else second" method. It was our way to honor those who had accomplished the feat of Trans Iowa, which at that time was less than 34 people.

My co-director, David Pals, and I were still working out just when we both could get together to do a recon. Unfortunately it wasn't until after we had a lot of snow and the temperatures were brutal on the day we tried to make it work. It was a small baby step as far as what needed to get accomplished, but it was something, at least.

Other than those things I was just looking forward to Thanksgiving and taking a bit of time off from the bustle of Trans Iowa and testing product.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday News And Views

Another bear sighting in Iowa recently. From the Iowa DNR page on Facebook
The Bears Come And The Bears Go:

Some folks live in "bear country", so this will be no big deal to them, but here in Iowa, bears are rarely seen. Last year I believe it was, there was a black bear sighting near Janesville, which is a village I cycle in and around often. This year in Northeast Iowa black bears were spotted again, which, for Iowa, is where you would expect to see bears. The terrain up there and the proximity to Wisconsin and Minnesota, both black bear homes, makes this occurrence less spectacular.

However; when you see that a bear has been spotted in Grundy County, which is due West of here, and mostly agricultural, it raises your attention levels. Especially in Fall. Spring and Summer bear sightings are most common, if you are to see a bear at all in Iowa, but Fall? I've never heard of it before.

Actually, I've never heard of black bears in Iowa until recently. When I was young, or in my 20's and 30's, it wasn't on my radar and no one spoke of such a thing. We would see the stray moose now and again, but never bears. Maybe I just wasn't aware of them and they have always been coming through Iowa. Hmm...... I just know that if I see one out gravel grinding someday I'll think I was hallucinating!

Ibis introduces the Hakka MX gravel/adventure bike
 Hakka (Gravel) Lugi:

Cyclo Cross spawned a subset of weirdness at one time which was sort of refreshing. I remember when Ibis debuted the cross bike they made in steel back in the day. They understood cyclo cross was a totally anaerobic, pain infested form of cycling, and the name they picked for their entry into the CX world reflected this in typical Ibis humor. They dubbed the bike the "Hakkalugi", in reference to how the lung searing efforts of cyclo cross would often cause one to hack up a large wad of mucus.

Well, cyclo cross got all serious, so maybe the humorous part of Ibis' past has been lost, but they have entered a rig in the gravel/adventure category and dubbed it the "Hakka MX". That's kind of a lame name, considering Ibis' past. I mean, it's obvious we don't have "MX" to "hack up", so whatever that means is lost on me. (I cross....whatever...)

The bike seems to be pretty on point as far as geometry and the current "multi-wheel fit" mania that has taken hold of the cycling world lately. Really.....who is going to actually swap out wheel sizes? It is a selling feature more than it is a practical feature, in my opinion. But however you see that playing out, it is a cool bike. It fits pretty big tires, and should make for a lightweight platform for a racy gravel rig. Plus, (little known TI fact), a Hakkalugi rider won T.I.v8. So there is that.

A T.I.v14 Rookie started an "event page" for Trans Iowa. Funny thing- I never was asked about it!
Things Unasked For:

Back when Jeff Kerkove launched Trans Iowa (V1), he did it on his Blogger page and on the Endurance Forum. Social media wasn't a "thing" back in late 2004, so, ya know, he did what he did. It worked, and it worked really well. Discussion about the event flourished on the MTBR forum for the first four or so Trans Iowas, but after T.I.v3, social media crept in and people moved away from blogs and MTBR's endurance forum became a sort of wasteland. About around 2010, I noticed more and more gravel road event promoters were either doing actual "dot-com" sites, using Bike as a defacto event site, or even more so, using Facebook as a "free event page" platform. Now in 2017 I would estimate that 60% or more of the events we catalog on's Events Page are Facebook addressed websites.

I have doggedly avoided Facebook for Trans Iowa purposes. It has become necessary to use it to link back to the original Blogger site, or this blog, to get information out there, but I almost never announce anything directly on Facebook, and a Trans Iowa page has never been set up, until now. And I didn't do it nor did I ask for it! 

Apparently some Rookie decided Facebook should be utilized as a place for discussion about the event, and set up a page, which looks "official", (he even pinched my artwork without asking), and is set up as though you might think I had something to do with it. I don't, and honestly, I don't care other than that this is a pretty cheeky move on this rider's part. I mean, you would think he'd have had the decency to at least ask. 

I guess I'm all wrong about that!

Have a great weekend and get in some riding. Thanksgiving is coming!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thoughts On Tubulars For Gravel Road Riding

A 40mm tubular from FMB proposed for gravel racing. Image pinched from
The tubular tire has a long history in cycling going back to the 19th Century. Basically, a round "tube" makes up the tire cross section. The tube is then made circular and tread is attached to the outside circumference of the tube. That then is glued to a rim which is specifically designed for this type of tire. This process of gluing can take quite a bit of preparation and time.

Flat tires can be ridden on, (until the tire carcass shreds or comes unglued), but repairs to tubulars are not often done and then only by skilled craftsmen and not immediately in the field. Typically one either carries another tubular tire pre-glued for replacement or one has to change out wheels from a "pit" on course or from a support vehicle, as you see often in Pro road racing.

So......why would one want a tubular for gravel road riding or racing? Well, for one thing, pinch flats would be non-existent theoretically speaking, as there is no traditional tube which would be separate from the tire to pinch. However, a cut tire is much more likely, if pressures are run low. Secondly, tubular tires have famously low rolling resistance and corner very well. Finally, there is a certain faction of cyclists that would find running tubulars something that would tickle their romanticized notions of cycling. So, for them, it would be justified.

I've written about the possibility of tubular tires for gravel road riding before here. In fact, I was so curious that I had Velocity build me a set of tubular wheels to try it out on based upon a tip from the folks at Challenge Tires years ago that they, (or someone) was going to make a big, wide tubular. That didn't happen so I actually laced the hubs over to some clincher rims this past Summer and hung the rims from the rafters.

With the typical gravel here in Iowa being chunky, loose, and deep, would tubulars survive the punishment?
I think certain places would do well with tubular tires. I think about Southeastern Minnesota, as an example, or anywhere the gravel is smaller in size, not very deep, hard packed, or really mostly dirt. However; that isn't what you will find everywhere, or in most areas that have unpaved roads. So, to my mind, this idea doesn't have enough merit to convince me that it is a solution that is better than a tubeless tire. While tubulars can be fantastically light, that probably isn't a good idea for a tire that will be getting constant roughing up by loose gravel. Not to mention riding anywhere there are puncture makers like goat heads and other thorny, pointy nasties on roads.

Tubeless tires typically are pretty bombproof out on gravel these days. It isn't impossible to have a flat, cut a tubeless tire, or to have some other issue, but those instances where tubeless gravel tires fail is rare and getting ever rarer. Even tubed tire use is easier on the maintenance side, and repairs are a snap in the field. Tubulars? Not so much.

This all has become relevant again because of a company famous for making tubulars, FMB, which has come out with an idea for a tubular gravel tire. (See the article here) In my opinion, this FMB tire is a stab at seeing what the reaction to a tubular for gravel racing might be. There is really no sense in the tire shown otherwise since the casing is huge, exposed badly on the sidewalls, and the tread is simply a CX tread glued on to this bigger casing. It isn't a practical design.

If this gains favor amongst racers, and FMB actually does a design worthy of use, which this design exercise clearly is not, then what? Well, it will be one more reason for the riders who are using these to call for support vehicles. I mean, you aren't really going to expect anyone in their right mind to carry a spare tubular and rip off the damaged tire, replace it with a pre-glued spare in the field, and carry onward, are you? Of course not! This isn't going anywhere unless gravel racing becomes just like Pro road races. So, unless the UCI gets behind this, or unless gravel races open up to going in the direction of Pro road races, this idea has zero merit. Because tubeless tires are already a far better idea than this is.