Friday, September 17, 2021

Friday News And Views

 Ride With GPS Debuts New Technology:

This week Ride With GPS debuted a new "Surface Types" technology for route finding and planning that, in many ways, is the pinnacle of what many riders will want out of technology for route finding. 

What is most impressive, to my mind anyway, is that Ride With GPS thought this through and realized that the information necessary to make this work would largely need to be tweakable by the users themselves. This is because, as I have preached on for years, due to the fact that there is no currently available information which you can rely upon 100% for surface data. 

This is due to the fact that most all of the GPS road data to date is focused on where people will most likely be wanting information- namely paved highways and interstate highways. NOT on gravel and dirt roads, which, let's face it, only a very small percentage of people even care about. So, as a result I have found blockages of roads which occurred decades ago which are still listed as through-roads, or as having bridges, etc. That this misinformation on roads and surface types exists should be no surprise then. This is also why, when I have seen people touting 'route surface type resources' in the past who relied purely on data focused on and for pavement users, I cried foul. 

This new Surface Types feature on Ride With GPS will be similarly handcuffed- at first- But if users take the opportunity to edit and make suggestions, as Ride With GPS says they will be able to do, then all the other sector features, elevation data, and mileage splits for paved/unpaved bits will suddenly start to become what we've dreamed of having as a resource. A dream since the times of the earliest modern-day gravel grinder events. 

I have checked the routes I have saved (private) on Ride With GPS to see how it does. On some it is spot on. The gravel to pavement ratio is correct. But on some older routes it isn't picking up on the gravel that is really there in many spots. This is where the rider input will be critical. 

I believe Ride With GPS, due to its oft used integration with GPS navigation head units widely in use by cyclists and events now, will be successful where others were not. Time will tell....

The Search Continues:

Which brings me to GPS units for my uses. I've been doing a bunch of research, and THANK YOU to the readers here for your valuable suggestions, by the way. I really appreciate those and I have been informed greatly by what you have shared. 

So, where am I on all of this? Well, I have it slightly narrowed down to a Garmin 830, a Garmin 130, or the Karoo 2 from Hammerhead. Disparate choices, I know....

The Garmin 130 does more of what I want and less of what I do not want, but it is tiny, harder to see, (old eyes here!), and it doesn't have a color screen. Honestly, that all may not matter if prompts are audible during the turn by turn navigation. (I don't think that they are audible, but I cannot confirm this via the web so far) It also happens to be the least expensive option I am looking at as well. This makes buying the mounts it doesn't come with less of a pain. 

The 830 is bigger, has color screen display, and audible turn by turn navigation prompts. It also has alerts for help if I get into trouble, (something Mrs. Guitar Ted would like) and it has rerouting/back to start functions which would be kind of nice to have sometimes as well. It is more expensive though, and that is a concern. Along with it comes a slew of stuff I'll never use also. Maybe a 530 here?

Pretty much the same story with the Karoo 2 from Hammerhead. I like this one because it seems to be backed by a company that is trying to update the unit with newer features on a regular basis, (thus giving me more value for the money spent, potentially) and that perhaps bodes well for issues which Garmin and Wahoo seem to have which are not being addressed for their users. Should a Karoo 2 start 'locking up', I would hope that their aggressive plan to update their units in the field would address such an issue quickly. But again- it has lots of stuff I'll never use and it also is spendy to purchase. 

Still looking and researching.......

Mosaic Cycles Announces GT-X Series:

If you are a well heeled cyclist with a penchant for adventure cycling off-pavement then the new Mosaic Cycles GT-X series might be for you. Offered in a full custom, double butted titanium version or as a stock geometry, single wall version in titanium, the bikes are capable of being drop bar or flat bar, depending upon rider preference, due to the geometry having a longer front center than a standard drop bar bike would. 

Tire clearances are 29" X 2.25" or narrower, but keep in mind that the bottom bracket drop is 75mm, so a 650B set may not work, and Mosaic does not give any indication that it would either. However; while it does not give the 650B fans any love, this bike does go the non-sus corrected route, and I like that simplicity and aesthetic. 

But you'd better open the credit limits up. The base GT-2X is $4500.00 for the frame only, and a GT-1X frame and fork are nearly 7G!! Don't look at me to be one who will be getting one of these rigs. I don't make anywhere near the kind of income to be looking at such bikes!

Riding Gravel Radio Ranch Episode #91:

Keeping things local, Andy and I interviewed Dan Roberts of the Snaggy Ridge 105 gravel event recently. That event takes place October 2nd in Tipton, Iowa. 

I met Dan first at one of the Iowa Gravel Expos that N.Y. Roll and I put on a few years ago. He showed up to promote his event and has been to a couple of these since to do the same. It sounds like a great event and if you can get in, you should. I realize a LOT of stuff is going down in the Fall, but this event deserves your attention. 

Plus, is sponsoring it, and I am sending over some schwag to help support the event. So if you go you could score a few items and have a great day in the saddle to boot. Check it out!

Plus, you can listen to our podcast with Dan here. We had a lot of fun talking with him and playing our game called "Function or Fashion" as well. You can hear that podcast wherever you get your podcast feed from as also. Thanks!

This Wentworth tire comes in a 700 X 40 or 50mm and in 650B
American Classic Is Back! With Tires?!

 American Classic, the brand started by Bill Shook in 1982, was well known as a wheel and component company for years until slow sales in the business for them caused them to shutter the company in 2018

The assets of the company were offered for sale at that point along with all intellectual properties, but as of now no official industry news has been announced as to whether or not that sale has happened. Although this news article about the brand relaunch states that the sale did occur, but offers no clear details.

At any rate, now the brand appears to be back and with tires. Of course, they are selling gravel oriented tires and they offer quite a wide range from a mostly smooth treaded type to full-on, aggressive MTB-like tires. All offerings in their gravel range are available in 700c X 40mm, or 700c X 50mm widths along with 650B X 47mm sizes in black or tan wall sides. Prices are all the same, a paltry $35.00 per tire!

Comments: Wow! Tires? That pricing! Okay, here's the thing, with tire prices on the rise and many tires being out of stock, and with American Classic being a brand off the radar for a few years, this is probably an attention getting move - an introductory offer, if you will.  I am guessing the pricing, and stock of tires, will be gone rather quickly. Once the brand is established, (if it ever is as a tire brand), I suspect that you will see pricing increase dramatically. 

That 35 buck price - if the tires are decent - is basically at retail cost. I would be immensely surprised if they are making any money at that price, again- if the tires actually measure up to what the competition is offering. Normally gravel tires with high quality casings and rubber compounds are sold is at nearly double that 35 dollar price and even higher in some instances. I mean, you could be getting what you pay for here, which could be not-so-great.

As a brand relaunch, sticking to the gravel category, (with a small nod to the past with some road tires), and going with tires, (a BIG talking point on forums and websites), is a smart move. The buzz created by this launch is a good start. If the product is worthy, and if American Classic can sustain the force of this launch over the long haul, then they may have life for the long term. However; if the product turns out to be lackluster and their stock lists are depleted with no quick restocking? Ooof! It could be the greatest time to relaunch or the worst possible time to relaunch the brand. We will see....

But I have to give American Classic credit for this eye-opening relaunch. It is a pretty bold move. Also- they promise more components to come. Now we will see if it sticks.

And that's a wrap for this week! Have a fantastic weekend and thank you for reading G-Ted Productions!


Ross said...

You might not be happy with the long-term battery performance of the Garmin 130. I have one, and after about 1.5 years of steady use, the battery performance was noticeably diminished. I got to the point where I could get maybe 45 minutes out of it during cold winter rides. It was a great little device, but battery capacity was sacrificed for the smaller chassis. I upgraded to a 530 and it goes 1.5 to 2 weeks between charges, and I expect the winter performance to be superior due to the much larger battery. Plus, Garmin sells an add-on batter for even more life.

Marc Pfister said...

When you edit surface type in RWGPS it is only applied to your route and not to the base map. Per

"Note: When you manually edit surface type information on a route, the update will only be reflected on the route you edited, not on future routes. You can update surface type information permanently by contributing to OpenStreetMap (OSM)"

A-A-Ron said...

Can recommend the Garmin 530. It doesn't have any of the bugs of prior generation Garmins. Easy to use, and all the extra features don't get in your way. I find the touch screen feature of the 830 to be a downgrade when used with gloves, especially as it gets colder and the gloves get thicker.

Guitar Ted said...

@Mark Pfister- I emailed RWGPS to get a clarification on this. Thank you.

DT said...

I'll echo the comments above. Besides the shorter battery life of the 130+ (which I use for mtb and cx), it does not have a mapping capability. That is not to say it can't do turn prompts, but you cannot view a map with any street labels or landmarks on it. It makes it good for short racing or courses, but not a great choice for navigating the backroads. And it is not compatible with the add-on battery pack, while the 530 and 830 both are. said...

Over on James Huang has verified that the American Classic tires are coming out of their own factory. Sounds like they are not being produced by a middle man. This opens up all sorts of questions about.....Did they build a new factory? Was the "old" factory just producing tires for other brands?

I don't think the cost will rise dramatically if it is their own factory. Just my hunch though.

Stud Beefpile said...

The Hammerhead will take a SIM card, and with a cell plan can report your instantaneous location.

I've had a Garmin Edge Tour, an 820, and both Hammerhead Karoos, and prefer the Hammerhead. The 820's battery life was about 2-3 hours after less than 2 years of ownership, and the Edge Tour was basically unusable for routing. It would track a ride, but would lock up on any routed ride I used it on.

I bought into Hammerhead after the Karoo 1 had been out for a year, but routing, function, and battery life has been head and shoulders above my previous Garmin experiences.

I sincerely root for Garmin because their US HQ is local to my region, but their bike products' functionality and useful life is not up the same standard as their competitors.

Guitar Ted said... - Thanks for those comments. I don't know if what James Huang wrote means anything other than a "factory contracted by American Classic", or perhaps that the people who bought the intellectual property from the former owners of American Classic have had a factory making tires for some time. I would assume the latter. If that is the case, we do not know how many other brands of tires that factory makes. Likely a LOT of other brands, as there are only so many factories making bicycle tires.

I have my suspicions as to which factory it is, and they tried breaking into the US market several years ago with gravel tires. That effort fell flat, but if I am correct on who is behind this, they have a much better opportunity for success using the American Classic name.

Also- *if* I am correct on who owns this factory, they are a HUGE tire maker and they do make a LOT of other tires you know by other names.

All that to say that I highly doubt that what James Huang wrote means "American Classic bought a tire factory and runs it making only their tires". But isn't an impossibility either.

Guitar Ted said...

@Stud Beefpile: Excellent information there. Thank you! I understand rooting for Garmin, but like you mention, they haven't exactly instilled a lot of confidence in their products for cycling. I am definitely troubled by that.

Guitar Ted said...

@ Marc Pfister - I received an answer from RWGPS. I am copying and pasting the pertinent parts answering your concerns and they are as follows.....

"For a rider to make an impact beyond their individual route, they can update surface type information permanently by contributing to OpenStreetMap (OSM) (How to here: These changes will typically be reflected in our maps within about two weeks. Routes will need to be re-drawn after these updates are made if they haven't already been manually edited using method one."

I hope that clarifies things a bit with your concerns.

Derek said...

Regarding tire brands, I'm surprised (and happy) that Innova-made, high quality folding bead tires are available in 12, 16 and 20" sizes for $15! Exact same tire sold as Goodyear and now Blackburn, seems easy and inexpensive to leverage a brand name into tire sales that are sourced from Innova.