Friday, December 10, 2021

Friday News And Views

The Trentasi 36"er gravel bike (Image from 36 POLLICI)
And You Thought 29" Wheels Were Big:

History Lesson: In 2006 Ben Witt hatched an idea to take 36 inch diameter uni-cycling wheels and put them into a bicycle. By early 2007 his idea was reality, and the buzz it created was a low hum in the background that never went away. (Learn more about the initial idea from my post about it here)

At the 2006 Dirty Kanza 200, a frame builder I spoke with proposed that the 36"er idea might be pretty cool for a gravel rig. His idea was that the big wheels would act like a fly wheel, storing energy for the climbs and gaining it back on the down hills. A rolling course might see such a big wheeled rig have an advantage, if the rider was hip to the momentum game. 

Nice theory, but in '06/'07, the technology and specifically, materials technology, had not been applied to this novelty wheel size. Later years saw companies developed around the sales of 36" wheels, most notably here, "Dirty Sixer", who cater to the larger framed humans amongst us. Another notable early proponent of the wheel size was custom bike builder, WaltWorks, who made several examples early on as well. 

Okay, now we have that as a backdrop for this: The 36 Pollici "Trentasei" Gravel Bike. This Italian based company also does MTB's in carbon, aluminum, and combinations of those materials. It was inevitable that something along these lines would eventually be done.

Comments: So, the frame builder back in 2006, I too have often wondered about the 36"er's potential for gravel travel fun. No doubt it would have certain advantages. That said, there are certain elements of such a bike that you cannot design out. The most important of those being wheel weight.

You often hear that wheel weight, and more importantly- where that weight is- will determine how well or not a wheel will perform. Too light and you actually harm the important flywheel effects that carry your energy through your pedaling 'dead spots'. (Think counterweights on a crank shaft as a way to understand that) Too heavy and the inertia factor raises its ugly head and imposes upon your energy reserves whenever you have to accelerate that mass. 

So, yeah....I've actually ridden a 36'er on a regular basis for a bit. I'd guess - and it is only a guess - that 36"er wheels would not be my preferred wheel size. And when you stop to think about where 700c came from, (a story far too long for this post), you will find other good reasons why we landed where we are. It's based in science and math folks. We didn't end up here by accident. 

The American Classic Wentworth from a ride I did in November.
More On The American Classic Company Comes To Light:

In the most recent "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News" it was reported that industry veteran Chris Clinton is working for American Classic now as of October 1st. This is not of relevance to many of you readers, but it stands out for me because I know Chris and have dealt with him on various occasions. 

Chris has done tires- mostly- since I have known him. I first met him when he was with Bontrager. Most recently I worked with him on a review of Challenge Tires' new Getaway model. I am glad to see he is at American Classic now as Chris has a wealth of knowledge concerning bicycle tires and should be able to bring a lot of improvements to this range of tires. 

Secondly, and of more import to you, the reader, is that the article mentions Chris as saying that at some point we can expect American Classic wheels again. This should be good news, since the new American Classic company has all the intellectual properties from the original American Classic company. 

I would suspect rim designs, which were excellent, and perhaps even that unique hub design the company had, to be re-introduced in the wheel line. Current wide inner widths for gravel will need to be addressed as the former American Classic gravel wheels would be considered far too narrow internally than the competition offers in 2021 and beyond. Hopefully the American Classic wheel, when it comes out, will feature a gravel tire friendly 24-25mm internal rim width, at least, which I feel is pretty much the sweet spot for internal widths on gravel wheels.

New Member Of The Family:

Meet Felix. He's the newest member of the family around here. Seems that Mrs. Guitar Ted thought that our first feline, Minka, needed a companion. So, last weekend Felix came home to live with us.

He, like Minka before him, came from the Cedar Valley Humane Society shelter. Felix also is a full black cat, (UPDATE: Wait! We found a white patch of fur on his belly!) and we purposely wanted a black cat because they are hardest, (from what I hear) to place with adoptive families. 

So, superstitions here. I've actually never thought black cats were unlucky. And, the name, Felix, was specifically chosen to reflect that. Well, that and because I watched Felix The Cat when I was a youngster. 

So far integrating the year and a half old Minka with the 10 week old Felix has been going alright. I mean, they have their moments and it reminds me somewhat of when we had small children. Jealousy, competitiveness, and such things are part of the deal we have to work through. Then you have a baby cat, full of the berries, and it can be a handful. But it is fun and we'll get through. 

Wilde Bicycle Co. Announced- New "Earth Ship" Gravel Bike: 

Monday news broke on a new bicycle company based in Minnesota called the Wilde Bicycle Co. The company is run by former All City Bikes head honcho, Jeff Frane and he is joined in this new venture by Angry Catfish bike shop owners Josh Klauk and Andy Tesh. 

Their company offers US made steel and titanium frames for mountain (Yo-Jeffy) and gravel (Earth Ship), although the press release stated bicycle frames in aluminum would also be offered. 

Frames can be ordered in stock sizes, modified somewhat by semi-custom order, or completely customized frame/fork bicycles can be ordered through Wilde. Earth Ship models in steel start at $2500.00 and in titanium for $3900.00. 

Furthermore; the site states that their geometry is a 'trade secret" and that they do not want their work being copied. While elsewhere it also states that the head and seat tube angles are "fairly traditional". 

Comments: Okay, Jeff Frane has a track record of designing cool bikes at All City. The Angry Catfish guys have experience with manufacturing small batch stuff and have a great business model for selling upscale bicycles. But some of this is a bit odd. USA made frames in "stock" sizes starting at well over 2G? And in a geometry you are keeping "secret"? Let's be honest here- If I am spending nearly three grand on a frame and fork I will know the geometry first. I am betting customers will have this info provided to them. Otherwise, uh.....fairly traditional angles doesn't sound all that "proprietary" to my way of thinking. 

And how much different will this be from an All City Cosmic Stallion? I bet it isn't by very much, if at all. Maybe they have used nicer, thinner frame tubing at Wilde for a nicer ride? I don't know... But that aside, the "DNA" from All City is apparent here. And why wouldn't it be? 

That's a wrap on news for this week. Have a great weekend and thanks for reading Guitar Ted Productions!


Tom said...

The science and math behind how we landed on 700c as the optimal wheel size sounds like a good read!

NY Roll said...

I have thought about what’s next in wheels. I have often wondered how a 32” wheel would roll? I think the 36 puts your CG too high, and 32 may be an okay compromise between 29 & 36. With that said, I had 29+ Knards on my BearGrease years ago. That bike handled better that way than with the 26x4.0. If we go bigger, do we run a DH Q factor for a Gravel bike in a 32 to help with Cornering and handling?

Guitar Ted said...

@N.Y. Roll - There was some movement on getting 32" wheels to be a thing around 2010-12 or so. I don't think anything came of it though.

I don't see any reason to make bottom bracket widths wider than say 73mm for a 'gravel' specific bicycle. Rear axle spacing wouldn't necessarily need to be anything wider than 142mm. I get the stronger wheel thing but a big diameter wheel isn't going to be conducive to directional changes and therefore not really a good single track/MTB type bike. Again- we're at 28"/700c for a reason.

Derek said...

I really enjoyed 29 x 3.0 Maxxis Chronicle tires on gravel. Seemed to roll easier than 29 x 2.4 Racing Ralphs, which seemed counterintuitive. My 50 lb lighter girlfriend (now wife) would roll away from me on downhills on the bigger rubber, myself om the 2.4s.
Wouldn't believe it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.