Friday, February 19, 2021

Friday News And Views

Maxxis Receptor- (Image courtesy of Maxxis)
Maxxis Debuts The Receptor Tire:

Last Monday news hit the web-o-sphere that Maxxis was debuting a new tire called the "Receptor". I took a look and said to myself, "Byway v2". It's no wonder that Maxxis, who haven't been a big player in terms of recognition in the gravel scene, wanted to pull a model out with a striking resemblance to one of WTB's best selling gravel tires, the Byway

I know at one point a few years ago, the Byway was the number one seller for WTB. So, with Maxxis not garnering a lot of buzz in the gravel scene, it makes sense, on one hand, to pretty much copy the Byway. Hopefully Maxxis gives this Byway-like tire a bit more volume than WTB gave the Byway, a tire that they are calling a 40mm tire. The Byway is pretty much a 38mm tire in 700c form, so it is a bit of a bummer if you are in the 40mm-43mm camp for a tire on your gravel bike. 

Of course, there is a 650B variant, a tire listed at 47mm, again, very Byway-like. The 650B one also is currently the only variant listed on the Maxxis website, although news regurgitations of the press release claim there will also be a 700c X 40mm black and skin wall version available at some point. (To be fair, the 700c sizes and skin wall options are mentioned in the video on the Receptor page.)

Comments: Smooth center + knobby edges = Gravel Tire® Seems to be the common tread design with variations on the theme ever since Challenge Tire's aptly named 'Gravel Grinder' tire came out about eight years ago now. The knobs on this Receptor tire look almost like an after-thought though. They come so far down the shoulders of the tire that, on a narrower 40mm carcass, you'd have to be in a pretty steep lean or in a really soft, loose terrain condition to even engage those tread features. This is what I would deem as a "Mental Insurance" tread feature. It makes you feel like you've got something other than a slick tire when in fact all you have is a slick tire with some ornamental tread blocks. To Maxxis' credit, these 'knobs' look pretty minimal, so they shouldn't add a lot of weight. 

Maxxis gravel tires used to be a real treat to mount tubeless due to their carbon fiber strand bead.  Maxxis makes no mention of this feature on their site, so if they are not doing that anymore, all the better. I'm keenly interested in the 700 X 40mm size, because if it is really 40mm, then it would leap into my favorites category, assuming all else was up to snuff. With Maxxis, there really is no reason to believe it wouldn't be.

A Tweet from Panaracer's social media 2/15/21
Panaracer Drops Sponsorship of Gravel Racing Team:

One of the first industry sponsored gravel racing teams had its former title sponsor drop out for 2021. The new Abus Pro Gravel racing team was announced February 10th with no mention of Panaracer's involvement anymore. 

Panaracer, on the other hand, started putting out feelers for brand ambassadors on February 1st. Panaracer posted on their Facebook page the following: "As a Panaracer ambassador, we will support you in your riding adventures in return for your original content, stoke and feedback." Applications for brand ambassadorship closed on February 14th.

Comments: Obviously Panaracer is taking a much different approach to sponsorship going forward.  You may have heard about "direct to consumer" type retail, well this might be seen as 'direct to consumer marketing' since the company seems to be cutting out any 'traditional' types of athlete activation. Obviously, getting content and tester feedback for a few sets of tires and "social media fame" will be a good trade off from what is spent on traditional marketing. Remember the old saw: "I owe my soul to the Company Store"? Kinda smells like that to me. Also noteworthy of thought: I don't know what types of events Panaracer will be involved in going forward, but it wouldn't surprise me to see that Panaracer becomes a grassroots events sponsor, if they do anything at all. 

 Also, as seen in the Tweet shown,  Panaracer will have a 'new, modernized look', whatever that means. (Actually, we get to find out Monday- I got an embargoed press release) and it will be interesting to see how their marketing changes going forward.  

The new Pivot Cycles E-Vault. (Image courtesy of Pivot Cycles)

Pivot Cycles Introduces New E-Vault Gravel Bike:

Tuesday news broke that Pivot Cycles has introduced a HPC (motorized bicycle) that is meant for city and gravel usage. It's dubbed the E-Vault

This Hybrid Powered Cycle (HPC) features a Fazua motor which has three levels of assist, adjustable on the fly. The motor also features a complete decoupling mode for 100% human powered cycling with no drag from the motor's internals. (Of course, you still have to overcome the extra weight) The frame is carbon fiber and it features top-shelf components from Shimano and others. Pivot lists the starting price at $9,999.00USD. 

Comments: There were a few items I was curious about concerning this bike. How far could you go on a charge? What sort of weight are you pedaling around in decoupled mode? What's the geometry like? Well, besides the geometry, which you have to scroll down the page for, the other two question's answers were buried in the FAQ. 

The geometry is okay. It is what I am starting to feel like is "Gravel Bike 1.0 Geometry". 72° head angle, 70mm bottom bracket drop. Pretty 'five years ago' geometry there, and as far as I am concerned, a geometry that wasn't right from the get-go. But that said, it's okay. It works alright but there is a better way to go. 

Now the weight- almost 30lbs. Not bad for a HPC, but hold on here. This is important. In the FAQ Pivot claims they could get about 45-50 miles in a single charge with less than 4,000ft of climbing. They do not give an indication of what percentage of that was boosted riding versus non-assisted, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and say it was 100% boosted for that amount of mileage/climbing. That's not very impressive. Not when you consider how easily one can accumulate 4,000 feet of climb in a state like Iowa on a 50 mile ride. Oh.....and wind is a factor too. That isn't accounted for in this measure for all we know here. 

And the bike is ten grand minimum. Ouch! HPC's are going to get people out of their cars and riding more? Not in this case, I don't think that is the idea.  

That's a wrap for this frigid week! Let's hope warmer weather is on the way!


Barry said...

$10,000? FFS.

Guitar Ted said...

@Barry - Yeah.... there are so many takes on that which I could riff on. I just pointed out that one of the main tenets of the HPC (ebike) advocates is that these things get more people out riding. Yeah.....not so much in this case. At least not the people we need to see riding.

Also, it didn't make the FN&V today, but Jones Bikes announced a new division of the company today moving forward with electrified bikes called "Jones Motorbikes". I couldn't make that up if I tried!

S.Fuller said...

With no racing last year, and a slim chance of any large mass start events occurring, the marketing shift to a less expensive option makes sense to me.

Guitar Ted said...

@S Fuller- Good point. I just wonder how/if expectations are being communicated. “Providing feedback and content” might not be what the “brand ambassadors” thought they were signing up for. My guess is that the expectations on the vendor side will be greater than perceived by the other side.

CrossTrail said...

At least Jeff Jones is honest in naming his latest creation as "Jones Motorbikes." And his design looks to be a solid platform for that application, if that's your thing. As for me and my Jones 29+, we will pedal our hills.

Panaracer Jeff said...

Hi Ted. Jeff from Panaracer here. I just wanted to clarify some of your comments from the official Panaracer side. While we aren't continuing with the team for 2021, it isn't because both sides didn't try. In the end, we just couldn't come to terms. It also doesn't mean that Panaracer has turned its back on racing or sponsorship. Aside from the team, Panaracer has always been very active in event sponsorships of all kinds. From Grass roots to big events. 2021 will build upon that with some exciting announcements to come. Lastly, the Ambassador program was being developed not as a replacement for anything, but as a supplement to our community. I hope that clarifies some things.

Guitar Ted said...

@Panaracer Jeff - Thanks for the clarifications. What was left on social media left a lot to be desired in terms of "clarity", I think you've just made that point very clear. So again- I appreciate you taking the time to get the story out with this comment.