Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Let's Get This Ball Rolling Already! Part 2

The Noble GX5
So the weather is improving day by day. I've been readying the test fleet and items for review and have started using a few of these items already. To make matters worse, (better?), I got another piece of kit to review yesterday. Plus, I have something I purchased for personal use that I very well could review, but that will have to wait until I get this backlog of stuff ahead of it in line done and out of the way.

Anyway, I wanted to share this rig here, the Noble GX5 gravel bike. It is an evolution of the Tamland, which you long time readers here know I had some influence on when that bike was developed. However; for those who haven't heard the tale, I think it bears repeating here, so please indulge me the chance to briefly bring those who don't know about this up to speed......

In 2012, I was working at the bike shop, wrenching on repairs, when I got a call. It was the brand manager at that time for Raleigh Bikes, Brian Fornes. He had a room of people listening on speaker phone and he wanted to know what I would do if I spec'ed out a gravel bike under the Raleigh banner. Now keep in mind, I had no idea this call was coming and the information I gave Raleigh was right off the top of my head.

To be sure, I had been exploring here on the blog concerning the "ideal gravel bike for me", so the information was fresh. Still, that I was able to convey anything that made any sense to the product engineers sitting there thousands of miles away is pretty incredible. Apparently, it made sense because they used every single suggestion I made in the development of the Tamland, which debuted in 2014.

Fast forward: Mark Landsaat, one of those engineers in that room that day in 2012, started his own brand, Noble Bikes, and he took the "DNA", so to speak, of the Tamland and infused a bit of modernity and his own take on things to come up with the GX5. I know some folks will say that this bike is "just a Roker with a different name", but it isn't at all. It's VERY different from that bike.

I am pretty stoked to get out on the GX5 to see how it stacks up against the Tamland and other bikes I've tried. It is 1X........ahhh, yeah, about that.......This wouldn't be my gig of choice, but it is Force 1 and it does shift great straight out of the box. So, we'll see.........

Bell z20 Aero helmet.
The thing I bought was a helmet. A Bell helmet, to be exact. I'll let you in on a secret- no manufacturers helmets fit my head really well. Bell's come the closest. My hat size is 7 7/8ths, or if you are metric, that's about 63cm around the noggin. Not the biggest head in the world, but to compound matters, my head is long and narrow. Not round. Many helmets, if they even go on my head at all, hit me right in the front and the back with gaping gaps on the sides. Giro helmets do that. They actually hurt me to wear. Lazer, same thing, and on and on.

In fact, if I get a new Bell helmet in size Large, which almost fits me, but not quite, I have to remove all the padding and those pesky Velcro strips, and then and only then does it begin to work. I tried a Bontrager helmet, but it wasn't better than a Bell and it sat up on my head leaving the lower parts exposed and it looked weird. So, I went back to a Bell this time. An aero helmet too. We will see how it goes, but a friend who wears an older Bell aero helmet swears by them and so I figured I'd give one a try. I will say that it doesn't look as odd as the older, super spiky roadie helmets I used to get.

One more confession before I go. If it weren't for friends and my wife, I wouldn't wear a helmet. It feels so much better to not wear one, but I know. Save the "who will take care of you when you are brain injured and drooling in a cup" admonishments. I'm going to be wearing a helmet! I just wish that there were good choices in a helmet that actually fit my head, and not a compromised fit, which honestly, it may not be a whole lot better than not wearing one. Who knows...... (Don't get on me! I'm going to wear a helmet!)

More coming in the weeks ahead......Stay tuned!


Big Woods Biker said...

I have the same problem. I have never found a helmet that fits comfortably on my big head and I even bought a POC XXL thinking it would certainly work. Removing stuff from the inside helps, but they all put uncomfortable pressure on my temples that often gives me a headache. Wish someone made a helmet that fits a big head better. I too have found Bell XL to fit best, but not great.

james said...

I have an idea...lets start a support group.
i too have the "large head" problem. Bell helmets feel the best, but with that said, they don't feel great. I always know it's there and after several hours, the helmet will begin to piss my head off with pressure points. If it wasn't for my wife and daughter, I too would roll without a helmet.

Mac said...

Me too on the large head category. I have a XXL Bern that fits well enough around my head, but will normally sit too low. Depending on the season, I'm utilizing a wool buff in one fashion or another to provide extra padding to let it sit properly.

Stevenator said...

The motorcycle helmet industry puts focus on size as well as design - like "round" and "oval" head shapes. It gets tricky, but sometimes the size of the helmet isn't indicative of actual fit. It would be interesting to see if bicycle helmet companies have a "round" or "oval" nature to their design. If so, they should call it out - it's a quick way to get loyal customers.

Ari said...

One helmet that works well are the uvex ones.