Friday, June 11, 2021

Friday News And Views

Pirelli Smartube is a lightweight TPU tube alternative.
New Tube Technology In 2021? Pirelli Smartube:

Pirelli announced recently that they have a butyl tube alternative in a product they have named "Smartube". It is made from TPU, a material which allows Pirelli to claim that these new Smartube tubes have twice the puncture resistance than butyl tubes and weigh far less. 

They also are compact. Maybe you've seen the Tubolito tubes before? These are similar only they are designed to go with Pirelli's bicycle tires. (Not sure why you couldn't use them with other, appropriately sized tires, so there is that as well.)

The 'gravel sized' Smartube weighs 49 grams, so yes- a lot lighter! Like Tubolito tubes, these Smartubes are expensive. The suggested retail is $36.90 for each. They come in many sizes to fit tires specifically, which is important with these tubes as they do not stretch as well as a butyl rubber tube does. 

Comments: So, who would buy tubes that cost nearly 40 bucks a piece? Well, not many would! However; if you are in an event, say like last weekend's UG in Emporia, an event known to be tough on tires, then packing several of these Smartubes would save a LOT of weight and space. Bikepacking is another niche where weight and space savings might make these appealing as a back-up to tubeless set ups. 

One interesting thing to note here= Pirelli strictly advises against using the Smartube with a rim brake set up. I'm guessing that is because of heat. Perhaps the chances of excessive heat build up on the rim is a recipe for Smartube failure. That may be a bit of a bummer since many folks using road racing style bikes would perhaps be a prime candidate for these tubes. 

This would be a great idea if I were to go touring again with a disc brake bike. But for my normal gravel travels? I'm perhaps a bit too 'cheap' in my bones to pop for a tube I may never use that cost nearly 40 dollars. Your mileage may vary......

Revonte One Drive HPC drive system eliminates derailleurs.

More On That Derailleur-less HPC Drive System:

Last December I posted about this 'more-moto-like' drive system for HPC bikes. Now some more details are known about Revonte's "One Drive" system for Hybrid Powered Cycles (HPC's) and this probably could go full-throttle only as well. The leap is only a matter of tweaking some software. 

According to the trade news site, "Bike Europe", in a recent article, they tell the story about the developers behind this drive system. many of the team are former Nokia employees, and so these designers and software engineers took a different approach to designing a drive system. It is mostly a software controlled system, and therefore a design which can be modified to work on bikes ranging from cargo, mountain, urban, to road. This eliminates the need to develop different drive systems for different types of bikes. They can do this via a planetary system of gears and a CVT type arrangement of them, making for a theoretically 'infinite' amount of gears within the gear range. 

Interestingly, the system doesn't focus on weight or traditional bike drive train design. This is completely the opposite of where most big-brand electrified bikes are coming from. One downfall could be that the system relies so heavily on digitized mechanisms and internet connectivity. If something fails on either the digital platform or the internet, the bike becomes a boat anchor. With more traditionally based HPC designs, you could possibly ride home, albeit with a very heavy bike! 

But what I find interesting is how this takes away a lot of limitations that traditional frame, wheel, and drive design has which force bicycles to be a certain format which brings about the look we are all familiar with. This drive system will likely free up designers of HPC's to go with more moto-inspired designs. One more step towards these things being more not-a-bicycle anymore. 

Wolf Tooth's new WT-1 Chain Lube

Wolf Tooth Gets Into The Lube Game:

This week a new chain lube hits the market. Wolf Tooth introduces the new WT-1 chain lubrication product which Wolf Tooth claims takes the place of 'wet', and 'dry' chain lubes, and does cleaning, chain protecting, while lasting a claimed 3-5 times longer than competing chain lubrication products. 

Here is a bit of what Wolf Tooth has to say about WT-1 from the press release I was sent:

"As a synthetic chain lubricant, WT-1 will improve the mechanical efficiency of a drivetrain while lasting 3-5x longer than most other chain lubes because it binds so well with chains. As a chain treatment, WT-1 will clean a chain by pushing dirt and debris to the surface where it can be wiped away, then it will protect the chain in all riding conditions and allow cyclists to ride longer between applications."

The new WT-1 comes in 0.5 fluid ounce bottles for $6.95 USD or in 2.0 fluid ounce bottles for $18.95 USD. You can check out all the details on Wolf Tooth's site here

Comments: I know what you might be thinking: "Well, there ya go, Guitar Ted! Another lube for the "Lube-Off"!", and you'd be right. I may have to grab a bottle of this stuff for the next round. Honestly, as I stated in my update on the SCC Tech Lube a couple of days ago, this seems to be the trend in chain lubricants- a full-spectrum type lube. the idea of "wet" and "dry" lubricants seems to be falling out of favor of late. Also, I noted that Wolf Tooth tells you to expect a bit of dirty (black) residue to get worked out of a chain that you use this on. Sounds a LOT like the SCC Tech and Blue Devil lubricants I am trying out right now. In fact, it may be SCC Tech Lube. A person I know and respect on Facebook seems to believe this is a collaboration between Wolf Tooth and SCC Tech. Could be, but I haven't seen this substantiated officially.

Stay tuned, I may be trying this, (or I already am trying this), and another reader suggested lube, very soon. Also- NOTE: Info and images for this entry on the "FN&V" was provided by Wolf Tooth in a press release.

Supply Chain Woes To Continue For Shimano Components Due To COVID-19: 

While we here in the U.S. seem to be leaving the pandemic behind, this is not at all the case worldwide. Late last night news broke that the Shimano factory in Malaysia, responsible for the bulk of manufacturing of low end to mid-range bicycle componentry, is completely shut down. "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News" reports that the factory, at 60% capacity since June 1st due to rising COVID-19 cases in Malaysia and subsequent lockdown, has been closed until further notice. 

Case numbers in the country continue to be reported at levels which have caused the Malaysian government to deepen the lockdown and this state will remain until at least June 21st when the government there will review the situation once again. According to the BRAIN article, only 4% of the Malaysian populace has been vaccinated. 

Comments: This is really bad news for the bicycle industry. Shimano, who have had the bulk of component spec on bikes which this Malaysian factory would have been making parts for, will also be hurt by this, no doubt. However; what we can expect is that there will be even further delays and lack of lower end to mid-priced bikes available for even longer than we had once thought. 

Could other factories/brands step up and take the slack up? Doubtful- Why would they if they are already running at capacity and could not build machines and buildings fast enough to avert the lengthening of shortages? Plus, once things finally do come around, Shimano is likely going to pick that spec business back up again. There simply is no other choice for this segment of the market that makes good enough components at the quantities that Shimano gets out of their Malaysian facilities. Not at this point in time, at any rate.

So, yeah...... Get settled in. This is going to take a long time to sort out. I think it is an even bigger point here to keep others in mind world-wide that are not as fortunate as us in America and elsewhere that are enjoying the freedom from lockdowns, masks, and loss of income. Bicycles not getting made is not a deal breaking situation. People dying and getting long-term illnesses and mental damage from this pandemic? That's far more important to deal with here. 

Update On T.I. Shirt Deal: Ari has the details on the shirts which are to raise money for a possible T.I. book HERE.

That's a wrap for this week. Stay cool, get some riding in, and have a great weekend. Thanks for reading! 


Jon BALER said...

Schwalbe also has ultra-light tubes, which can be patched. Tublilto has the same limitation with rim brakes, and it is due to heat. I carry one on my mountain bike with tubeless tires, because I know I'll rarely need to use it. It's worth saving the space in my small frame bag, and I'll only use it to finish the ride and then repair the tubeless setup. So the same tube has lasted me over 1 year, and saves precious space in my frame bag every ride.

Nooge said...

Hey GT, click on that Wolftooth link you posted and look at the bottom left of the product picture. It says “ By SSC Tech” right there on the label. They aren’t hiding that this is a collaboration. They also aren’t even saying this is a different product. I think this is identical product and is just a way for SSC to sell more product with the brand recognition and distribution of Wolf Tooth.

Guitar Ted said...

@Nooge - Thanks. It wasn't specifically called out in the press release I got, so good catch.