Friday, November 06, 2020

Friday News And Views

Tis the end-o-the-year time and around here that means that I begin to start wrapping up the season with looks back and reviews of bikes and equipment I used throughout the year. So, this is a 'warning' of sorts that there will be such posts coming along very soon here. 

Obviously, this will be quite a bit different look on the "Rear View" than I have done in years past because of the ongoing pandemic. For one thing, there will be no real event reviews due to all my events having been postponed. There will be reports on "The Quest", of course, and the Single Speed Century, and the failed Solo GTDRI from this Summer. I'll have reports on all the bikes used throughout the year, and the changes to them, if any. 

Plus I will have an essay, maybe two, on the COVID-19 affected landscape as it affected myself and my immediate surroundings. Obviously, THAT will be the #1 story of 2020. How could it not be. 

I'll be talking about the first (almost) year at Andy's Bike Shop, how the pandemic affected that scene, and why this change in my work life has been one of the best things to have happened to me in years. Speaking of work, December 1st 2020 marks six years of for myself and I want to take a quick look at where that ride has taken me as well. So, stay tuned for the "Rear View 2020" and "Bikes of 2020" and more starting now through the end of the year. 

The new fizik Terra Argo X5 saddle. Image courtesy of fizik.
A Gravel Specific Saddle?

Marketing. Ya just gotta love it, right? A niche of cycling gets started and the next thing ya know every company has some specific thing made for that discipline. Whether it matters or not. Such is the case with these specific saddles from 'fizik'. These are their Argo range of saddles and are the short/wide type of saddles I first noticed coming out for triathlon purposes. 

These saddles made sense for me in terms of tri pursuits since those riders tend to ride bikes with very steep virtual seat angles and they also tend to position their bodies up on the nose of the saddle. Also, since there are arcane rules regarding saddle to bottom bracket relationship in place for road time trialists, their saddles also need to be shorter. I get that. Okay, what I don't get is why these saddles work in other disciplines of riding. 

The nose of a saddle is used to steer your bike, by the way. If you've ever ridden one of those nose-less, supposed 'comfort' saddles, you would get this immediately. Anyway, with a shorter saddle, you lose some of this effect. Also, these saddles are really pretty wide and the transition from wide to narrow is a lot more abrupt. Huh....... Color me as one who doesn't 'get this'. I've sat myself on customer's bikes with these types of saddles on test rides and, well.......nope. I just don't see the appeal here. 

So, all of that to say this- If you ride one of these saddles, what is it that makes these work for you? Enlighten me, please. I ask because to my way of thinking, these short/wide saddles go against every ergonomic and technique driven attribute most cycling saddles for enthusiasts exhibit. Thanks in advance. The gravel specific thing? Whatever......

The 45NRTH Wrathlorde studded fat bike tire. Image courtesy of 45NRTH.
To Be Studded Or Not Studded? - That Is The Question: 

Okay, so there is a period of time during Winter that the gravel roads get slicked up with compressed snow and ice and this pretty much makes it so that I have to abandon riding out in the country for a while. Of course, there are solutions to this 'problem', if you want to look at this as a problem to be solved. I mean, you could just say it is a golden opportunity to ride in the woods, or, ya know, stay at home with a hot cup of coffee and a book. (Do people still read books?) But staying indoors is not an option for me, so yes- this is a problem to be solved. 

Now, I have some 40+ mm studded gravel tires. They are the 45NRTH Gravdal models, but have you seen how uneven gravel roads get when they are frozen over? My issues with a narrower tire is that these undulations and ruts could upset the bike enough that stud contact on the surface is not going to be sufficient enough for stable riding. I don't need to biff it on a rock-solid road in freezing temperatures. The risk is too great for the reward. 

Fat bike tires have a LOT more surface area contact, and therefore have the potential for more studs to be engaged than a narrower gravel type studded tire. So, my thoughts have been that if I can get a set of studded fat bike tires that look like they have a decent rolling resistance and are not like tractor tires, then I might consider going that way and riding my Ti Muk 2 this Winter on gravel. These 45NRTH Wrathlorde tires look pretty good in that regard. The thing is they are $250.00.......for one! Spending a half a grand just to be able to ride a couple months on gravel? 

Hand me that book and that cuppa joe.........

Naw.....just kidding. I'm going outdoors to ride, but probably not out in the country if things get iced up. I'll figure something else out. Just like I have for since......well, a long time now. But if those tires were a more reasonable buy, I would do that. Anyway, just a thought. 

That's a wrap for this week. Get out and enjoy the outdoors,however you can! Thanks for reading!


NY Roll said...

I use to be a stud up type of guy in my first year of fat biking in 2014 or so. Then I concluded a few things. 1. If it is that icy out, maybe I should not be out there? 2. When I did have them I normally sought out a better line, like a shoulder or even re-routed around. With that said, I consider myself a rec rider, and I would revisit this if I was a commuter. Commuters, I think it is a prudent thing to invest in.

Keith said...

On the short nosed saddle topic. I switched over to the Specialized Power back in 2015 after having a constant battle with rubbing on the inside of my thighs. I had looked for any saddle with a narrow nose but often found them to also be too narrow for my backside. Any saddle less than 140mm would cause hip pain as my sit bones were not being properly supported and any saddle wider than around 150mm would start to cause chafing in unpleasant areas.

I know that I must be a sort of goldilocks based on how mostly indifferent my riding buddies are to differing saddle types. I use the short nose 143mm width saddle on road, gravel, and mountain bikes and it just supports everything the right way. And I know that I use the saddle to help steer the bike because I have had a steep learning curve on the mountain bike when installing a dropper post and no longer having something there on longer descents to stabilize and lean almost caused me to crash at first.

Tim said...

Reading a book is as enjoyable to me as a single speed bike is to you. Actually I have both hard copy and digital books. My choice depends upon my location, packability, and projected time to read. Cup of joe, time spent reading, then outside on a bike and it is a complete day!

RC said...

Really like the Dillinger 4 and 5's studded in 27.5. They roll well and give that level of mental comfort normally found in the summer dirt. To be able to roll in the winter and not angst about ice is well worth the price of admission.
And, yes, it took many years to finally bite the bullet and invest in real winter tires. Easy to justify if one needs/wants to.
Price of a pair of studded 45NRTH = $500.00ish dollars.
One trip to the emergency room=minimum of $500.00. Plus recovery and cost of materials to affect a hopefully effective repair.
Just skip the anxiety and drama. Pony up and PARTY!!!

Nooge said...

I love studded tires because around here the snow never lasts for more than a day or two before temps her high enough to cause ice formation when it dips back below freezing. I rode my fat bike on ungroomed and groomed single track, so ice hiding beneath snow can be a real danger.

If price is an issue, you can go the DIY route and use short metal screws installed from inside the tire. Rolling resistance and longevity aren’t great, but cost is much lower assuming you use some cheap / used tires.

baric said...

Mr. Guitar Ted, back in the day before 29ers, 27.5 or fat bikes did you ever have any experiences with 26 inch studded or not, so called winter bike tires? If so, what were your thoughts on them and how well did they work? I have an older rigid 26" currently with a Patterson Metropolis crank set X 9 speed drive train, 2.35 Schwalbe Big Apple tires and fenders which I think might make a good winter bike with the right tires. I see 45North has a Gravdal studded 26 X 2.0 and Schwalbe has a few studded Marathons as well as other manufacturers do, but these tires, like all studded tires are fairly pricey. So what I'm looking for is input, experiences etc. on tires like these to see if they are worth the price of admission. There's not much information out there and like you I'm not looking to bust anything. I break a lot easier than I used to.

MG said...

I love PRO's Stealth line of saddles and have both the road and MTB versions on different bikes. The short, wide, relatively flat nose is comfortable to perch on during hard climbs. As you might expect, with short saddles, positioning is key… Perhaps more so than with traditional saddles because of the reduced surface area.

I'll note that the first time I saw a Stealth road saddle in person, my immediate response was 'no way', however after spending much of the past year using both versions of the design, I'm a big fan. For perspective, my other favorite saddles at the moment include the Tioga Undercover, WTB Silverado and Fabric Scoop shallow. Oh, and the Brooks C17 in some applications.

Incidentally, all of the mentioned saddles fall between 138 and 142mm in width, aside from the C17, so that seems to be about the sweet spot for me, width-wise.

Guitar Ted said...

@baric- Back in the day I used to do a lot of Winter riding on IRC Blizzard tires which were a studded Winter specific model. I really liked them because they were not super stiff with high rolling resistance. They rode quite well, as I recall

And that is the key for me with any studded tire. They must not feel like you are riding through mud all the time. In that sense the 45NRTH Gravdal is a really good rolling tire. At least in 700c. I’ve not ridden the 26”er.

Also, you want to be aware that dry pavement can twist and pull studs out of the casing if you are careless or have long spells of dry pavement between icy and snowy events. For this reason I find studded tires here to be kind of a waste for commuting.