Archive for November, 2007

The Wish List

November 28, 2007

With the Holidays closing in soon I was thinking about a catalog we used to get from a certain retailer that had the word “wish” in its title. (That title is trade marked, by the way!) Anyway……what I had in mind was something a little bit fun, perhaps.

Here is the deal: If there is anything lacking in the market place for 29″ers that you see a need for, this is your chance to post your “wish” in the comments section. A couple of guidelines here: First, nothing personal. This has to be a general wish for something that you would think other 29″er freaks would also want. Second: It has to be hardware for a 29″er and must be a 29″er specific part. For example, things like Jessica Alba or titanium seatposts are not allowable on our little wish list. Keep it on topic! Third: Give a reason as to why you feel your choice is a worthy choice for a wish. Fourth: Your wish can be brand specific. For instance, you could wish that Surly would make a single speed full suspension 29″er. (Not likely, but hey! Sorry if I stole your idea!)

This will probably be a bit tougher than it was just two years ago when Twenty Nine Inches fired up its first post, but I have confidence in you readers. I’m sure you will have some worthy “wish list” items. Keep in mind a lot of industry folks read this, so you never know! Your wish just might come true!

Remember, keep it on topic and clean, or I’ll have to drop the moderator’s hammer on ya! Okay……..Go!

29"er UST Tire News and Rumors

November 26, 2007

Word comes out of France today that Hutchinson’s Python 29″er tubeless ready concept tire has achieved UST status and now can be marketed as a UST standard 29″er tire. This is a first in the 29″er world.

Some clarification here might be necessary. It is a widely held belief that UST means that a tire has to be able to hold air without sealant on a UST standard rim. This would mean that any tire that could do this would need an extra layer of butyl rubber around the inside of the tires casing to help it seal and become airtight. Well, this is only partially true. UST status can be attained also if any tire design meets the bead interface criteria and can hold air with the aid of a sealant on a UST rim as well. So, this means that the Python is going to be marketed as a UST tire but will require sealant, as it is a “tubeless ready” UST tire.

What keeps other tires from being UST that use a sealant is the bead interface doesn’t meet the UST standards. Is this a big deal? Well, obviously UST has some marketing benefits and should impart some degree of confidence in the technology to any mountain biker looking for a tubeless system for 29″ers. The only problem here is that there is currently only one tire available that meets this criteria.

That is going to change in the very near future. Geax is planning on releasing a UST certified version of it’s popular Saguaro 29″er tire in a tubeless ready version. Geax calls this technology “TnT” for “Tube, no Tube”. The tire will have a reinforced sidewall, unlike many other tubeless ready tires, and will have a “tubeless talon”, or bead interface. No release date has been reported as yet for this Saguaro variant.

Hutchinson is not staying idle either and is rumored to have “other treads” in developement for 29″ers as well. No word on adding to the tubeless ready ranks, but it would seem like a mistake for them not to do this.

As for Michelin, they have been rumored to have had another 29″er tire design in the works since last spring, and were thought to be doing a UST tubeless ready tire for 29″ers. Currently it seems that Michelin has withdrawn its bid for this as yet unnamed 29″er tire to be a UST tire. It is thought that the tire is a 29″er variant of a currently available 26″er tire pattern and that Michelin may be doing their own version of a tubeless ready system.

If we hear anymore solid information regarding the Michelin tire, or any of the other rumored tires here, we will report back. Stay tuned!

SE Racing Stout 29"er: Update

November 25, 2007

Se Racing Stout as tested

I have been riding the SE Racing Stout off and on now for some weeks and I have this update now to pass along.

The Stout seems like a bike one might get for more than just an off road rig, so I used it as an urban bike for a spell here recently to get a feel for how it might work as a utilitarian bike. I think the Stout has several plusses and some drawbacks in this sort of role.

First, the Stout hasn’t got a quick release in sight which lends itself to being locked up outside of stores, schools, or work for several hours without too much fear of having parts ripped off of it. The gray hue of the ’07 model also plays into this as it doesn’t stand out from the crowd. Big tires and large diameter wheels are tailor made for urban riding in my mind, especially over broken up pavement or cobbles. Riding up over or off of curbs or parking pylons is a breeze. Potholes become targets for bunny hopping practice. The simplicity of the drive train means this is all rather silent too. No chain slapping off the chainstay.

The Stout doesn’t work so well from a utilitarian standpoint if you want to accesorize it. No good way to mount fenders or a rack might turn off some potential riders from considering this as a rig for urban uses. However; if you aren’t too concerned with the fender/rack thing, the Stout is a great rig to bomb around town on.

Now back to dirt related stuff! I took off the front Ignitor in hopes of putting on a fatter, cushier tire to gain a bit of relief from front end chatter. I found out that the Ignitors supplied with the bike are in fact wire beaded tires. I had not known that wire beaded Ignitors existed before this discovery. I installed a Rampage on the front and took off for a bit of off roading to see how that affected the ride. I ran the tire at 25psi and I thought it gave a tiny bit more relief than the stock Ignitor, but just that, a tiny bit. I think that for rough terrain I would start looking at upgrading to a front shock real quickly, or at least a carbon fork. A fat tire just isn’t enough on the Landing Gear fork to give enough relief and high speed control.

And speaking of control and upgrades, you might want to take a look at different brake pads too. The stock pads can only be described as “speed modulators” after riding disc brake equipped bikes on the same trails back to back. You really have to reel it back in speed-wise compared to a disc equipped rig.

In the future, Captain Bob will be tackling some of these upgrades and we’ll be back with our final review at a later date. Stay tuned!

CED – S S & F

November 24, 2007

Recently completed CED – “S S & F” 69er

CED is a very small custom builder in Ashland, VA. Can’t see the hubs, but he machined them as well for this build.

Gary Fisher HiFi Deluxe 29"er: Out Of The Box

November 23, 2007

Here is the Gary Fisher Deluxe HiFi 29″er in all its glory on a snowy Mid-Western afternoon. The size of this particular speciman is 19″. Here are my initial thoughts upon taking it out of the box and building it up.

HiFi Deluxe front view

Probably the first thing you’ve heard about the 2008 Fisher 29″ers is that many of them are spec’ed with the new Fox F-100 RL 29″er fork. This Deluxe model has one and it is a special G2 offset fork that is only available on certain 2008 Gary Fisher 29″er models. I’ll delve into more detail on G2 in another post. For now let’s just say that the fork looks pretty well thought out with it’s clean, beefy lowers and anodized control knobs.

Their are alot of cool bits on this bike. Another one of the big innovations from Fisher/Bontrager is the Rhythm Tubeless Ready wheel set that is on this bike. It has a wider rim profile than any of the previous Bontrager 29″er rims and is tubeless compatible with the addition of a plastic rim strip insert available separately. The tires are also the Tubeless Ready Bontrager Jones ACX models with a folding bead. The Deluxe comes with tubes, but switching out to Tubeless Ready status isn’t a big deal once you get the kit from your dealer. I’ll get into the Rhythm technology in another post too.

Moving on we have the Fox RP-2 rear damper on this bike which allows for 4 inches of rear wheel travel. The RP-2 has the Pro Pedal feature and a rebound adjustment control. The suspension is of the single pivot linkage driven type with an asymetrical swingarm and big wide pivot points above the rear drop outs. It has carbon fiber co-molded seat stays, which in themselves are a whole ‘nuther story. It all looks really well made and the paint even fades over the seat stays to show the carbon fiber. Nice.

Fox RP-2 close up

The rest of the bike is finished out in Bontrager bits including a Race Lite seat post, a Race saddle in white and black, a Race Lite stem, and a Race Lite Big Sweep handle bar sporting 12 degrees of bend. The controls are SRAM X-9 shifters which move SRAM X-9 derailluers front and rear. The brakes are Avid Juicy Five hydro units which grab onto 160mm rotors front and rear. The crankset is a Shimano Deore LX two piece affair with external bottom bracket cups.

Fisher's new head badge

The bike overall looks pretty nice with the grayish-blue hue and white fork and accents on the saddle tying it all together. The ’08 graphics are nice on the eye, not garish or odd looking. Things went together pretty smoothly with the exception of my having to wrestle with getting the tires to set up in the rim hooks properly. Airing up to 60psi helped with this. The fit and finish of all the parts is first rate otherwise. Captain Bob came in and took a look and wanted me to point out that the down tube has a useable water bottle mount. He said he was glad to see that Fisher stuck one in there and didn’t make it a “Camelback bike”. I’d have to agree.

The weight came in at about 27.8lbs with my ancient Ritchey pedals installed. The measurements all agreed with the spec sheet with the exception that the static measurements of the head tube and seat tube came ot to 71/73.5 degrees respectively. A bit steeper than what Fisher has published. I’ll have to get Captain Bob rounded up to find the sagged measurements for all of you that are into that sort of thing. Stay tuned for a first ride report soon!

Gary Fisher HiFi Deluxe 29"er On Test

November 22, 2007

Twenty Nine Inches has just received a brand spanking new Gary Fisher HiFi Deluxe 29″er for test/review. The HiFi is a 4 inch travel bike that features the new Fox F-29 RLC with the new G2 offset. The bike also features SRAM x-9 components and Avid Juicy hydraulic disc brakes.

We will be detailing out the spec more fully and showing you some images of the bike in our upcoming “Out Of The Box” post coming up in a couple days. In the meantime, if you have any questions or things you would like to see us check out on the HiFi Deluxe 29″er just let us know in the comments section and we’ll see what we can do.

By the way………………..Happy Thanksgiving!

Do You Commute On A 29"er?

November 21, 2007

With the onset of wintry weather here I am in preparation to break out my winter commuter, a 2003 Surly Karate Monkey. You can see more about that here I love commuting on big wheels, especially since parts of my commute are over unpaved trail and a grassy field.

How many of you are commuting on the big wheels? How many are using a 29″er specifically for winter time commuting? Is commuting on a 29″er a bad idea?

Take a moment and go to the comment section for this post and let us know what you think. If you have a great commuting story involving big wheels, type that in too.

WTB '08 29"er Tires: First Impressions- Vulpine 29"er

November 19, 2007

The last of the three sets of new 2008 WTB tire introductions for 29″ers that we have is the Vulpine. It’s a very condition specific tire, being a semi-slick. Let’s take a closer look at what I found out during my first few rides on them.

First of all, here’s some measurements taken from my mounting of the Vulpines on a Salsa Delgado Disc wheelset. The casings width and height are the same at 52.5mm. The outer knob to outer knob width is 52.4mm. A word on the profile of the casing. It basically is split into two “zones”. The middle third or so is very flat and has the minimalistic tread pattern. The outer thirds have the treaded portion of the casing and fall away from the center section at angles. This affects how the tire feels while riding to a great degree.

You notice this as you transition from going straight and verticle to a slight lean as if going into a corner. The sides of the casing make the bike want to fall over to the side of the lean angle, as if the wheel is “flopping”. This was a surprising feeling. I have not had a tire with this trait before. I played around with some ideas and arrived at a solution that seemed to work well for this tire. Instead of leaning over gradually into corners, I aggressively threw the bike over to a severe lean angle and bore my weight down into the outside pedal. Much like a skier would do. This seemed to be more to the Vulpines liking and I could tell that the side knobs were gripping when I did this by the change in sound of the tire and the slight increase in rolling resistance.

Now, let’s get one thing out of the way here. This tire is fast! Okay, enough about that. Just keep that part in mind as you read the rest of this. The obvious low rolling resistance is what makes this tire the way it is, but some other things were quite noticeable that may not appear to the casual observer. One of those things is that this tire runs like a skinny tire. It doesn’t have a huge casing and it doesn’t have much tread so you just can not expect it to be much like any of the other 29″er tire choices out there. I got it pushed past it’s limit on a tight corner with some black dirt that was just slick enough to give the tread on the sides of the Vulpine the slip. I went down! On anything that was dry and hardpacked I was golden. I could throw that bike over and the tread would hold me up just fine. I suspect that a loose over hardpack might give this tire some fits, but hey! It’s got minimal tread, so again, we can’t expect miracles here!

I had the tires on my On One Inbred set up as a single speed. In a typical out of the saddle grunt, you could definitely get the rear to spin loose, so this may be not your first choice on a course with lots of climbing for a powerful single speeder. Folks that sit and spin it out shouldn’t have this situation. The other surprise was how it knifed through really loose soil/mud. I think the skinny profile and angled side tread has some effect on this here. The Vulpine wanted to dig into sandy pits that I encountered and not “float” up over the sand. It also wanted to cut through the slop I encountered at some water crossings down into more solid ground. That said, since there wasn’t any sort of paddle tread on the Vulpine, it would spin out pretty easily in the slop. The good side of that is there isn’t any thing to hold the mud on the casing, so you can fling it off and continue forward without a mud weight penalty.

So far I have been impressed with this tire by it’s ease of spin up and it’s fast rolling nature. I have a hill that I keep a record of my maximum speed for climbing up and I broke that record to smithereens with the Vulpine. (Interestingly, I had the old record set with the same bike shod with Nanoraptors) So, fast isn’t any problem for the Vulpine. Finding the perfect course for it, well that is another issue all together. We’ll keep searching and report back with more soon!

1952 Schwinn 29"er

November 18, 2007

The pics tell most of the story. Just waiting for a suitable post before it sees the dirt. It`s a coffee bike for the time being.

WTB '08 29"er Tires: First Impressions- Stout 29"er

November 16, 2007

Stouts mounted to a Raleigh XXIX+G

Here we have my first impressions of the WTB Stout 29″er tires. I first decided to mount these up to Salsa Delgado Disc rims since they have a reasonably wide profile and would get that casing spread out to it’s best advantage on dirt.

The tires mounted up like about any other 29″er tire on these rims. No real problems there, just the typically slightly loose fit as you put on the tire. I aired them up to a pressure of 35psi rear and 30psi front for my initial ride. After a couple of test rides to work and back I measured the casing at 56.7mm wide. Not as wide as my Weir Wolf LT casings, but the tread is much wider.

The first real off road ride was at the local Scout Camp trails. There is an access road right at the top that bombs straight down to a lower level along a river. This access road is rough, rutted, and has some sections with bigger rocks where it is very bumpy. I was speeding down this and felt totally confident in the big wide tires. I never used the brakes all the way down, even though the rigid bike started bouncing wildly at some points off the bigger rocks. Once at the bottom, I determined that the air pressure was too high and I dumped some air out of the presta valves.

Taking off now on some twisty, tighter, and mainly flat single track I found that the Stout had amazing grip in the tacky black dirt. I could gently lean into corners at speed with no need to use the brakes if I felt confident enough to do so. The fact is, the grip was far more than my confidence level was at!

Now it was time to climb and do some up and down work. The Stout was great over the roots and rocks. Cushioning the rigid fork up front, the Stout allowed me to push faster on downhills than I could with a smaller tire.

WTB Stout and Maxxis Ignitor side by side

Above image: Stout on the left, a Maxxis Ignitor on the right

The size of the Stout is a dividing line, I think, between who will like this tire and who won’t. It’s big, as in almost too big to fit in the rear triangle of my Raleigh XXIX+G. Some frames may not clear the tire at all. Additionally, I could not use my granny gear, as the front derailluer cage drug on the outside knobs of the Stout. That doesn’t deter me, since I rarely use the granny ring, but it’s a concern that many will have. That and the weight, which is substantially more than most 29″er tires. I think it’s a moot point for what the tire is intended for: agressive, all day trail riding that demands maximum traction and toughness.

I’ll be testing these tires as such in the coming days. For now I’ll leave you with this: I ended up running the Stouts at 20psi front and 22psi rear by the end of that first ride. Looks like it’s going to be a fun, high traction, agressive affair from here on out!