Friday, April 28, 2023

Friday News And Views

Jones Bicycles Debuts 29" X 3.25" Crux Tires:

Back when fat bikes were getting hot there were rumors that a 29" fat bike tire might get produced. That wasn't really a very soild thought though, since mold making machines were barely able to crank out 2.5" width 29"er tires at that point and the over-all diameter of such a tire as a 29' X 3.25" tire would easily exceed anything that could make a tire at that point. 

That said, tire companies that weren't necessarily the biggest dogs in the performance bicycle marketplace started doing odder sized tires just to gain a foothold in the market. (See reference to an example below) Vee Tire and Duro Tires are two brands that, while you may not know it, make tons of bicycle tires for lower end bikes and other brands. They just do not have their name front and center when it comes to tires made under their company name. 

You've likely heard about Vee Tire, and you may have used them on a bike, but they are not a "Maxxis" or "Kenda" in the marketplace. Duro is almost unheard of in the performance tire market for bicycles, although they have made popular DH tires in the past. 

So, it wasn't too surprising then when Vee Tire made there Bulldozer model into a 29" X 3.25" tire, which then Jones Bikes adopted as their featured tire on many of their Jones Bikes builds for bikepacking. Now Jones has worked with Duro Tires to bring another, tubeless ready 29" X 3.25" tire in the Crux model. You can check them out here

Ultima Multipath Long Range (Image courtesy of Ultima)
Interesting Molded Composite HPC :

Electrified two wheeled contraptions are a dime a dozen, so when I see one that I actually am interested in, you can bet that there is a good reason why. This bike by Ultima from France is just such an example.

It features technology borrowed from automobile manufacturing and uses an injection molded composite technique to create a unique, monocoque, single-piece structure for the frame and the fork is made in much the same way. I've chosen to highlight Ultima's "Long Range" version of their bike to show here because it has the most radical fork design and is meant for all-roads/terrain. 

Essentially a trekking bike, the Ultima Long range has a single-sided fork, ala a Lefty, with a unique parallelogram linkage suspension, which as far as I can discern is based on a "blade", or leaf spring design. (I could be wrong, but the website isn't 100% clear without me doing more digging)

The disc brake arrangement is kind of interesting. It would allow for the rider to remove the front wheel without removing the caliper, but since the caliper is basically upside down, I cannot imagine that debris would not want to collect in the pad area, not to mention moisture. 

But besides this odd design choice, it is a very interesting bicycle. Typically any injection molded type designs in the past have not been successful due to breakage or a lack of stiffness which led to poor user experiences. Examples of this that you may have heard of are GT mountain bikes from the early 2000's and Ross, who were resurrected briefly in the early 2000's and used an injection molded hard tail frame for a few models. 

Ultima is using recycled plastic in this frame and fork and their goal is to use 100% recycled plastic for the French produced frame and fork by 2025. Hopefully they can pull it off, but time will tell. 

The bike weighs a claimed 45lbs plus a little and costs well North of 4K, which in light of many offerings on the market is not bad at all. It's just going to come down to how this frame and fork technology holds up under daily usage.

Drunken Rhino (Image courtesy of Nextie)

Drunken Rhinos & Mammoths: What?!

The world of fat bikes just got a little fatter recently  when Nextie, the Far East carbon rim manufacturer, announced that they have made a 128mm wide carbon fat bike rim with a 120mm internal rim width. Following is a bit of the announcement as seen on Facebook:

"We thought the Xiphias 105mm rim had been compatible enough for the biggest tires currently on the market. But according to the needs of one of our loyal customer fans, who is a fat-bike enthusiast, the Xiphias 105mm is still not wide enough, especially for the ground with very thick snow. Wider rims are much more beneficial. So we decided to design and to develop the world's widest carbon bicycle rim - the Drunken Rhinoceros 128mm. Even though it's an extremely niche product, it's our duty to push the boundaries of carbon fiber cycling if one product could meet the needs of our wide range of customers from all the world."

The identity of the "loyal customer" wasn't hard to figure out for me. That would be Mike Curiak, who is solely responsible for this product's existence. He typically has been the driving force behind fat biking in "trail-less", ungroomed areas where there have been less people and more solitude. You can see Mike's bike he tested these on and read more about how to get the rims here

In the Facebook comments on Nextie's announcement a link was made available to a bike that probably has the widest Over Lock Dimension (OLD) of any production bicycle that I am aware of. The Mammoth Empire, apparently available from the Philippines, has an over 200mm bolt-on rear hub. 

Snip from a YouTube video on the Mammoth Empire fat bike
Okay, so you've got these huge rear traingle widths, a big, wide carbon fiber rim, and what tire? Well, actually, the big tire came first. That would be the Vee Tire Snowshoe 2XL at 5.05" in width, and it is at least that wide. I've seen side by side comparisons with the Bud and Lou Surly 4.8"ers and the Vee 2XL is noticeably bigger. 

But......could we be on the verge of seeing something even wider come out? 

Thanks for reading Guitar Ted Productions! Have a great weekend!


Tomcat said...

I'm hoping to see more plus-size tire options pop up in the near future and happy to see there are new releases coming out. I was pretty bummed out when Maxxis discontinued the chronicle from their lineup. I thought that tire had everything - fast-rolling, durable and cut/puncture resistant, held air incredibly well. I really haven't found anything quite like it in the plus-size realm.

Guitar Ted said...

@Tomcat - As I recall back when I was a bit more in-tune with the MTB product folks, they were telling me that "Plus" sized rubber would eventually be 2.6"-2.8" wide and that 3" wide stuff was going the way of the dinosaur.

That was maybe 2015 -ish? So, yeah, that looks to have come true. There just wasn't enough OE spec to help it continue. Jeff Jones probably had to commit to quite a large number of tires to get those Duro tires produced. Otherwise those would be kind of a one-off, and they may be just that if they sell poorly. The thing is, there are hardly any bikes outside of fat bikes with "Summer" wheel sets that could handle these big Duros.

I know it doesn't sound like much but the volume difference between 2.8" and 3.0" is very noticeable when riding. In good and bad ways. I'm pretty happy with my 2.8" Coronados, but anything less wide wouldn't have done it for me. I have room for 3"ers, but it would have to be something akin to that discontinued Chronicle for me to get them. I do not want a gnarly trail MTB tire.

x3speed said...

Fat-Bike podcast said intel is that 24"x6" is on the way from Surly.

Guitar Ted said...

@x3speed - Really? That's going to take a new frame as well, I would suspect. Especially so if they set those tires up on proper width rims. Those would likely be 120mm wide, like the Nexties.

That size would keep overall diameter in check, but if that rumor is true I would suspect that an entirely new standard for axles (maybe the one the Mammoth uses is a portent?) and bottom bracket width will be coming. (The Mammoth has a 120mm BB width, by the way)