Tuesday, March 11, 2008

On Tubeless Tires, Custom Builders, and More

The Goop Goes In Here: I decided I needed to have tubeless tires for my trip to Texas so down in the Lab I went to have another go at setting something up. I didn't go into this blindly, oh no! Long time readers all know of my past struggles with tubeless technology and that I am not fully convinced that it is a great choice.

Well, I recieved some assistance in the form of a "secret recipe" and technique from a certain Lincolnite. The thing was though, his main ingredient isn't available locally here. Bummer! So, with time winding down on me, I had to use something else that I could get my hands on for now. (Not saying what, but it's commercially available. Wait till after I'm back, I'll let ya all know if it worked then)

Anyway, I used the Bontrager Dry X tires on my Bontrager Race X Lite wheels which is a fool proof tubeless set up. I'm tellin' ya, if they ever get those tubeless rim strips for the Rhythm wheels out there I won't even consider using anybody elses system. The Bontrager TLR tires fit super snugly on the plastic rim strip to the point that your thumbs get a work out putting on the tire for the first time. That's like unheard of in the 29"er tire world. Then when you do get the tire on there, you can already hear that the beads are nearly seated due to the hissing of air when you squeeze the tire. Needless to say, setting the beads up is a no-brainer. Just pump up to about 50psi and everything snaps up into place. Add sealant and you are done. Easy!

I got two tires done.......ready to ride done.....in thirty minutes. And I found a wrench that fits the flats on the removeable core presta valves in my tool box. Bonus! One wheel set ready to do battle with the Texas cactus.

Stay tuned for the next wheel set I am going to attempt to set up tubeless. Hope it goes as well as the first!

Handbuilt Bicycle Blues: If you haven't noticed, there is a big dust up on mtbr.com over certain small custom builders and some pretty disturbing claims of poor business practices on their parts. I have been pretty close to one of the accused. It saddens me on several levels that the issues have arisen and are being dealt with on public forums in some very juvenile and pathetic ways.

I just wanted to air out some of my personal feelings on the matter. In general, my belief is that the products in question, the actual frames themselves, are very well thought out, fine quality pieces. No question about it. I have ridden or closely inspected two of these accused frame builders work, and it is above reproach in regards to quality. The issue that is at hand is how the business side was handled in each of the cases I am aware of. So, taking the product out of the picture, or the fact that they are one man operations, what we have here are simply just failed businesses for whatever reason. Businesses fail all the time. Even big bicycle companies "bite it" from time to time. What is different here is that the businesses in question were higher profile small builders and the problems that were had were immediately posted on the internet forums and Kangaroo court was in session from the get go.

I've no doubt that people are angry, used and abused, and deserve some sort of justice, but that's what our legal system is for. This internet "mob mentality" I see is rather disturbing. Sure, you could say, "Well- You got your frames, you don't get it." And that justifies poor behaviour and slander? Please explain that. Besides, folks have no idea what problems I had or didn't have because I kept it out of the forums and dealt with it privately. Perhaps we could do with more of that.

Finally, I just want to add my opinion that I believe in the small, hand built bicycle industry. I think it's fantastic and most builders have a passion and care for what they do and how they handle their businesses that is very admirable. These spectacularly publicized failures not withstanding, I think the hand made bicycle is a valid choice for anyones next rig.

Nuff said.........

Funny thing happened at "mail call" yesterday: We get the mail in at the shop I work at around noon each day. The coming of the mail "man" (Ours is actually a woman) is greeted with calls of "Hello" and sometimes a bit of chit chat. It's a time that is a "marker" for our day at work. So when the mail showed up yesterday, I said "hello", of course, while another co-worker grabbed the stack of posts to take back to the office. Suddenly I hear, "Hey! Here's a Trans Iowa post card!" Wha............a T.I.V4 post card? Yep! Post marked in mid November, we finally got Dave Nice's post card on March 10th! Fortunately for Mr. Nice, he very wisely sent out more than one card and did get on the roster. Just goes to show you, late mail still happens in 2008!

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