Friday, May 03, 2024

Friday News And Views

Image courtesy of Hutchinson Tires
Hutchinson Introduces New Gravel Racing Tires:

On Thursday news hit concerning a new gravel racing tire from Hutchinson, the French tire maker, called "Caracal Race". Caracal is a name of an African feral cat, by the way. You may also know it from open wheel auto racing circles as the name of a particular racing car chassis. 

The unique  tread of the Caracal Race was developed using Hutchinson's road racing tire technology and features only two overlapping casing layers under the tread and three in the sidewals making this tire very fast, but also not as tough as you might want for rugged, rough gravel. In fact, Hutchinson recommends this 475 gram tire (claimed weight) as only suitable for all-road and hard packed gravel tracks. There is a puncture protected version of the Caracal Race called just "Caracal" and that tire is claimed to weigh the same 475 grams for each tire. It is also a bit less expensive. The Caracal Race tire cost around $65.00 each USD. The Caracal and Caracal Race are only available in 700 X 40mm size. The "race" version being tan wall only while a black wall version is available in the Caracal version.

Comments: First of all, good luck finding these in the USA. Hutchinson essentially pulled its distribution of tires toward the end of the pandemic and has not reestablished any significant network of distribution here since. That isn't to say that you could not find these in a 'non-traditional' way, but these Hutch tires are not going to be widely available here. 

Now about that weight. The Caracal weighs the same as the race version? I doubt that is the case. If so, why bother buying the race version? This makes it seem like there is some missing information there. It may be true, but this strikes me as being odd from a marketing standpoint. 

The mere existence of a 'racing only' gravel tire seems pretty ironic to me. Maybe it is my particular perspective regarding gravel riding, but why spend well over a hundred bucks on a set of tires you are only going to use a handful of times, if they last that long. Then again, maybe you are a sponsored rider, or are chasing the money in bigger races. But for the average person? Maybe if a lot of your rides are pavement, then yeah, I could see this being your tire. Especially the puncture protected one. 

For what it is worth, I do love the Hutchinson Touareg which comes in a ton of sizes in 650B and 700c. It is amazingly air-tight when used tubeless and rolls very well on Mid-West gravel. It is puncture protected and you might be able to track down the 700 X 50mm size. That'd be cool!

Image courtesy of Wheels Manufacturing.

 Single Speed News From Wheels Manufacturing:

This is news leftover from Sea Otter, but since I love me some single speed action, I thought that this was interesting enough to put into today's FN&V. 

Wheels Manufacturing is making single speed cogs in various anodized colors now. But what is really cool is that they are coming out with a kit for Shimano Micro Spline hubs. You can see that version in the image here to the left. 

Wheels already has a kit for converting SRAM XD freehub bodies to single speed as well, so now all bikes can be single speed. Well.....okay, not Campy! Oh well....

Wheels also sells spacer kits in matching anodized colors. The new Solo cogs will also be available in Shimano Hyperglide cassette spline standard as well. Cogs vary from 16T to 23T in size. 

Is single speed making something of a resurgence? Is this all a reaction to the hyper-technology in racing bicycles costing well above 10K? I don't know but I cannot recall a time when so many companies were making anodized single speed gear for the cycling market. Can you? Let me know in the comments what you think. 

Image courtesy of Shimano.
Rebound '24 Aims To Hit The 10 Million Miles Ridden Mark:

Riders are invited again to join in with others around the world to ride gravel/non-paved tracks in the Rebound '24 event which happens world-wide June 1st. 

Shimano Gravel Alliance, in conjunction with Live Slow Ride Fast, invite you to participate in logging 25, 50, 100, or 200 miles starting at 6:00am your local time, (just like Unbound starts - or used to start, now its Pro only and staggered between men and women, and.....Never mind!)

Just make your own route and start at 6:00am, okay? Alrighty then! Shimnao wants to see the total from last year's Rebound event, which was 4,789,142, reach 10,000,000 miles this year. That's a BIG goal! 

Shimano only asks that you sign up HERE and track your mileage. Preferably doing the course you set up self-supported, (although the Pros at Unbound will have fully staffed aid at checkpoints, but......Never mind!) Anyway, check it out if you are so inclined and be a part of a global cycling event, which is kind of cool if you consider that. One thing is for sure, Rebound probably will cost you less than Unbound. Just a guess..... (sarcasm alert)

Propain Terrel CF Image courtesy of Propain Bikes.

More Gravel Bikes:

The influx of brands coming into the gravel market seems to continue unabated. New releases by current gravel brands also are keeping pace as well. The latest offerings from Ridley Bikes and Propain Bikes are prime examples. 

Ridley has a new line up in its Grifn range which is kind of an in between bike in that it isn't necessarily a gravel bike (limited tire clearances) but it is not an "endurance road bike" either. Ridley is saying it is more of an "all roads" bike. Funny how that is what I thought ALL fat tire, pavement to non-pavement bikes should be named. But here we are with "gravel". 

At any rate, Ridley added an eGravel bike in this family of bikes and also a more affordable aluminum bike as well. All have geometry which, in my opinion, isn't all that "gravel-ish" and with the limited tire clearances, these bikes have a weird place in the market. 

Now Propain, a brand mostly known for its aggressive downhill oriented MTB's, has a gravel bike in its range dubbed the Terrel CF. Many 'gravel' bikes emanating from traditionally MTB-specific brands can be wonky in the geometry department with super-slacked out head tube angles and whatnot. Not so with Propain's Terrel CF. 

This bike has a 71° head tube angle, 72.5mm of bottom bracket drop, and the only thing on the chart that jumped out at me was the long effective top tub measurements. For instance, in my size, which typically runs anywhere from 57.5cm - 58cm, the Terrel has a 59.5cm measurement. That's going to require a short stem, but Propain says that they designed the bike so the axle appears a bit forward of the handlebar while riding. This, they claim, provides more stability in sketchy terrain.  

The gravel bike category just seems to be one of the only categories with any growth. You have to wonder when the growth will slow down. I just am not seeing it yet, and at a time when the rest of the industry is contracting, this growth in the gravel category seems pretty weird. 

Pirate Cycling League Merch:

As you may know, the Pirate Cycling League is now separated from Gravel Worlds. The PCL is now getting itself settled in on its own, once again, and has now announced some merchandise to mark this occasion. 

A couple of t-shirts and a hat are on offer now, (See HERE), and the word is that much more is in the works along with some other "new ideas" which will be coming in the future. 

I picked up a t-shirt and I will give my thoughts on that when it arrives. These new items are all pre-order for now, so I'll be waiting a bit before I see this shirt in hand.

That's a wrap on this week! Get out and ride those bikes! Thank you for reading Guitar Ted Productions!


MG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shiggy person said...

Sound like the casing construction is an “open tubular”.
It makes for a very comfortable and grippy ride