Archive for July, 2009

Niner Pushes Envelope With W.F.O.9

July 30, 2009

Niner Bikes, who are totally committed to selling only wagon wheeled rigs, have often been at the forefront of 29 inch technology. Pushing companies to do 29 inch related components and taking those and building some pretty classic bicycles like the R.I.P.9 which is a highly regarded full suspension 29″er trail bike. Now with the introduction of the W.F.O.9, Niner Bike’s own Steve Domahidy wasted no time in putting together the slickest looking 29 inch wheeled down hill oriented frame yet.

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To be fair, other down hill 29″ers have been done before, WaltWorks comes to mind as well as a couple of others. This; however, is definitely the best looking package yet, and with the technology on board, it promises to be a good performer as well.

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Featuring the ultra rare- ultra expensive Manitou Dorado fork, the W.F.O.9 pictured here has the fork limited to address the bigger front wheel. The Dorado is an “upside down” design, with the sliders at the wheel’s axle and the “lowers” being on top and attached to the triple clamps. This eliminates the need for a fork brace and therefore allows the use of a larger diameter tire with only a travel limiter to keep the tire from bottoming out on the lower triple clamp.

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The travel on this Dorado was reduced from 203mm to 175mm and apparently it is easy to do. Is the Dorado available from the factory as a 29″er fork? Possibly. It is a semi-custom product. For $2750.00 you can find out. (That’s just for the fork mind you.)

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According to Niner Bike’s Facebook page, Steve is playing with a Rock Shox Vivid damper now. The rear end of this W.F.O.9 is the 150mmOD version and the travel is 5.5 inches. This bike also features the WTB Kodiak tires which should be available through Niner Bikes in a few weeks.

It will be interesting to see what the performance of this bike will be on true DH type courses. Time will tell. Stay tuned for any updates we get. (Editor’s Note: All images were forwarded to me by a reader via our e-mail link. Thanks!)

Bontrager 29-3 Front/Rear Tires: Final Review

July 29, 2009

I have had the pleasure of rolling these Bontrager treads now for several months. Here are my final thoughts on the combination. If you want to get into more detail on some of the aspects of the tires, you can check out my previous posts here, here, and a comparison post here.

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Taking my initial impressions into account, let’s see if the observations I had at first held true. The trails were mostly dry during this period and moisture wasn’t an issue. Some dry over hard pack and sand was present along with rocks and roots.

Rolling Resistance: The rolling factor was good. I never felt that the 29-3 was a hindrance in this area. In fact, I am betting the production tires are even better in this regard, since my casings were pre-production, and were stiffer and heavier. Even the front, with its deeper, bigger knobs rolled quite nicely.

Climbing: This is still an amazing feature of the rear tire. It hooks up really well and the drier the better. It doesn’t like loose, or rocky stuff real well though. Technical climbs may break the rear loose, but over all, the 29-3 rear scores highly on climbing.

Cornering: The 29-3 front tire really is a great cornering tire. Lateral support is excellent, and you really have to overcook the corner to make it break loose. The front fairs better in loose over hard than the rear, and doesn’t need to be leaned way over to work. The squarish profile has a lot to do with this. Cornering for the rear tire isn’t as solid, with the rear wanting to break free and slide far before the front will. The smaller volume casing also trends the tire in that direction as well.

Braking: The front is great in braking traction, but you will break the rear free very easily. This could be a problem on very technical courses for some folks.

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The 29-3 front is a great all round tire and would probably mimic the WTB Prowler on the rear, which is a solid all round tire. Running a bit taller and squarer casing, the 29-3 front specific tire should lend plenty of mud clearance and be great on a rigid bike. As a front tire it is a very good choice, especially if you want a fast, grippy tire that rails corners.

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The 29-3 rear tire is surprisingly good as a climbing tire and overachieves in most situations as a rear. Racers are using this as a front to match it on the rear with great success. That said, this is a finesse tire that will reward a skilled, patient rider. Those that are more aggressive and care free in style will over tax this tire quickly. It rolls very well, and the size may make this a great choice for a “monster cross” application.

Overall Wear: These tires are pre-production, but I have noticed some significant wear, especially on the rear tire, during the course of the test. This is a racing tire, so expectations for pavement wear should be less.

Conclusions: Hands down, this is one of- if not the most- odd combinations of tires for front and rear ever made for a mountain bike. Still, as a team the tires work well. Tubeless they had the same bomber reliability that the TLR system is known for. I would like to see Bontrager up the width on the rear to “true” 2 inch width to better balance with the excellent front tire. As it is, the combination is not quite what it could be. I would highly recommend the front tire, and the rear is an excellent racing tread for skilled riders that can finesse the performance out of this tire without overwhelming it. Make that rear tire a bit wider,add volume, and we would really have a great set up for all around race conditions here.

Going Tubeless: The Future

July 28, 2009

Here in my final installment on tubeless mountain bike technology and specifically tubeless tire technology for 29 inch wheels, I want to address some areas of concern and where I think the tubeless tire and wheel products of the future can help to make big wheel mountain biking even better.

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While Giant made the new XTC-1 29″er rims tubeless compatible with a Stan’s rim strip, the tires mounted stock are not rated for tubeless use.

Why Not Go Tubeless From The Start? : The modern mountain bike rider is pretty information savvy. Tubeless benefits and performance are pretty well known and accepted by more and more mountain bikers everyday. To my mind it makes absolutely no sense to not have your product be ready to go tubeless out of the gate these days. Why not enhance the value and appeal of your wheels and tires by offering this as an option? Yes, tubes should be supported, and I still use tubes in many applications today, but if you are a serious mountain biker, you probably will be more tempted to buy a product that supports tubeless use than one that doesn’t.

I certainly can also see why manufacturers won’t be too thrilled with doing this. The technology to develop your own system, or get UST certification is expensive and time consuming. That said, a non-tubeless rim or tire is quickly being viewed as being “off the back” by mountain bikers. I agree that tubeless tires and rims that are reliable, easy to use and live with, and reasonably priced are the future of 29″er tires and rims.

Information Please: While this series of articles is hopefully shining a little light on this subject, it is by no means an exhaustive study of all products on the market and which are compatible with each other. Getting everybody on the same page might be asking too much, but would it be unthinkable for a rim manufacturer, lets say, to recommend tires for use as tubeless on their product? (Stan’s does this already). Or how about a tire manufacturer giving us some idea of how their product works tubeless on other tubeless designed rims? The conversation is pretty one sided on this score and the user group is the only one making any real noise here. I think that is a shame. The UST standard should be either opened to all manufacturers, or another system equivalent to it, so as it is with BB30 bottom brackets, users can all be assured that “this” tire can go on “that” rim without being a living, riding guinea pig. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget about sealants in this conversation either.

More Choices: With an “open standard” we could all expect more choices. That would be a good thing, since the way things are now, a tire manufacturer, let’s say, doesn’t have a clue what tubeless system the end user will try to match their product up with. Yes, as I suggested, they could test on all available systems, but as we march forward, and more rim manufacturers start offering tubeless compatible rims, this situation will need to be settled. With everyone on the same page as far as a standard, the tire and rim manufacturers would be encouraged to make product that supported tubeless use. The way things are currently, the manufacturers are not going to know which way to go in this regard, unless a UST standard becomes the accepted way to do things. (As it is for the most part with 26 inch wheels and tires)

The Bottom Line: In the end, how ever things shake out, we as mountain bikers ask only a few things: That the tires be reliable, the rim/tire interface be safe, and that the tires, sealants, and rims be compatible with each other and easy to use. If this starts to become a reality, the days of tubeless tires and rims for 29″ers will finally become like that of the 26 inch world.

What Your Future 29"er Will Look Like

July 27, 2009

Recently several new technologies have sprouted and together they are changing the 29″er landscape in a big, big hurry. In fact, these new technologies are making such inroads that racers are now showing up to the start lines on 29″ers on the national scene and doing what was unthinkable just a year or so ago: Winning.

What is going on here and how will it affect the average trail rider in the future? Let’s take a look at some of these things that I believe the best 29″ers on the planet will have as standard items moving forward.

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Tapered Steer Tubes and Through Axle Forks: It is already happening, but I am certain that these two design features will totally take over the serious trail rider segment for wagon wheelers within the next two years. Yes- quick release forks will soon become a thing of the past, and tapered steer tubes will become commonplace, especially on 29″ers. Why? Why mess with years of tradition for this perceived benefit? Is it really that big of a deal that quick releases and standard 1 1/8th steer tube forks have to go the way of the dinosaur?

Yes.

I have ridden several of these bikes and with the combination of the tapered steer tube and through axle fork, 29″er handling is transformed to surgical precision. No longer will vague, flexy handling be accepted once riders start feeling the benefits of these two features that will become indispensable. In fact, I will go so far as to say that what we are riding now will be seen as laughable in perspective to how future 29″ers will handle with tapered steer tube technology and through axle forks. Oh yeah, and don’t forget the rear end of your bike either. Quick releases will be rare in the back end as well. The way through axles tighten up the handling of any 29″er is amazing, and at the very least, systems like DT Swiss’ ratcheting skewers will dethrone traditional quick releases in short order on 29″ers.

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Wheel Technology: The difference in wheels for 29″ers today versus three years ago is already astounding, but here’s the kicker: Carbon fiber hoops will become the must have rim for 29″ers. These rims are super pricey, but I fully expect that marketing competition, and new manufacturing techniques will send prices downwards to the point that these hoops will become the single biggest performance enhancing upgrade that any 29″er freak will desire and be able to attain within reason. Carbon fiber sounds scary at first, but these new hoops will prove out to be longer lasting and lower maintenance than aluminum rims are today. Not to mention that they will lower rotational mass and increase lateral rigidity to the point that anything less will become undesirable in the realm of 29″ers. Perhaps only the wider, burlier trail/AM/Free ride type hoops will be aluminum in the future, but XC/trail riders will be gravitating towards the carbon fiber hoops in big numbers in the future. The ride and performance benefits are just too good to be ignored.

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Tubeless Tire and Rim Technology: The tires and rims on your future 29″er will all be tubeless ready out of the box. Already I am aware of several rim/complete wheel manufacturers that are going to introduce tubeless ready wheels in their 2010 line ups. I fully expect that tire manufacturers for 29″ers will also gravitate more and more to tubeless ready tires exclusively. The demand for tubeless tires, rims, and the knowledge to do the tubeless conversions by riders is getting the attention of manufacturers and this will become a standard feature on your future 29″er. It won’t be long and the thought of anyone introducing a rim that requires a tube or a tire that requires a tube will be thought to be an odd thing for a wagon wheeler.

Drive Train Changes: The future 29″er rider can also expect to see some dramatic changes in the drive train of their 29 inch wheeled bicycle. Gone will be the days when you had to worry about gear ratios that matched 26 inch wheeled bikes. The Shimano 12-36T cassette is already trickling out, SRAM’s new XX system will have a 10 speed option with a 36T low gear, and others are following suit. Several two chain ring or Hammerschmidt type front set ups will appear with new gear combinations which will eliminate the need for a triple ring crank. New front derailluer designs are already making 29″er clearances better which will allow for shorter chain stay bikes to be developed. Hub designs are changing to allow for the higher torque loads of 29″er set ups and all of this will supplant the current 29″er set ups within a short time. All things which will increase performance and level the playing field for 29 inch wheeled bikes soon.

These are the main technological differences that have vaulted top level race rigs into the limelight as respectable, viable choices for certain courses by pro level athletes. Expect this sort of technology to become standard equipment on finer big wheelers everywhere in short order!

Giant XTC-1 29"er: First Impressions

July 26, 2009

Editor’s Note: Grannygear chimes in with his “First Impressions” on the Giant XTC-1 29″er. This series on the Giant is also appearing on The Cyclist.

After taking all the pretty detail pics of the so far unridden XTC 29er 1, it was time to get it dirty. I have to admit that I am kind of a geek when it comes to knowing the angles, lengths, etc that a bike frame is built to. It does not tell all, but the numbers can point to a certain characteristic or trait of handling or performance.

However, this time I changed all that. I purposely did not read the chart of specs that Giant had provided me. In this way, I hoped to have no preconceived notions to color my impressions. Suited up, I clicked in and pedaled away to ride a local loop that in many ways typifies a So Cal ride. I had received the bike with the Fi’zi:k Tundra saddle pointed very nose down and I had leveled that out before the ride. Soon I felt like I was pedaling nose up and sure enough, I was. Reset the saddle…back to riding.

It pedals well enough and the Kenda Karmas, 1.9 rear and 2.2 front, are very quiet on pavement and they feel nicely speedy. The handle bars are very straight compared to what I am used to and are placed a bit lower than the norm for me. I did swap the shiny blue spacer from on top the stem to under and that will do, I suppose. Actually, it feels very good but I do enjoy a bit more sweep in a bar. The 90mm stem looks short to me, but the 25″ TT works to put the front cockpit pretty much where I sit normally with a 24.5″ TT and a 100mm to 110 mm stem.

I feel like I am pedaling a bit from the back seat in that I am sitting farther back over the cranks then I am used to and what is up with that saddle angle??? Off the bike now and I can see it is nose up again. Grrr. I reset the angle (which is nicely micro adjustable) again and this time I added some ‘uuummpphh’ to the torque setting with a regular allen key. I went from very snug to very, very tight and stopped juuust shy of ‘reefin’ on it’. That should not be. I don’t trust the Connect SL seat post despite its handsome face and little blue pieces.

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When I was picking up the bike from Giant HQ, I asked Andrew Juskaitis, the marketing honch for Giant North America, what was the focus of the bike: racey, adventure, trail, weekend all rounder? He felt the bike was intended to satisfy the all day rider who appreciates the response and comfort of a bike that does not require your immediate attention to perform well. Along those lines, I feel the straight but nicely wide bars are a bit at odds with that and the saddle certainly is a racy-ish design. In fact, I found the Fi’zi:k Tundra saddle to be best appreciated when I was standing and pedaling and I bet it was chosen as much for its light weight and good looks as its comfyness factor. Saddles are a very individual thing, so give it some time, you may like it more than I.

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The climbing was very good, but nothing exceptional. This was the first time I had tried the expanded gear range that the Shimano 9spd 12-36 cassette provided. 29ers are often criticized for losing a bit of low gear due to the bigger wheels. Some riders covet the older Raceface cranks with a smaller bolt circle that allows for a 20 tooth chainring instead of the normal 22 tooth one. The 36 tooth gear on the cluster is actually very cool especially with what it does for the middle chainrings potential. The 32/36 is a good combo, perhaps even better than the 22/36 is. A 22/36 allows for a very sloooow pedaling gear and in many cases is barely faster than walking. However, if you like to keep in the saddle and you ride long, steep climbs, the all steel cluster with the 36 tooth gear is nice, even if it does add some weight compared to a nicer piece like the XT stuff with the alloy spider.

The climbing done, I pointed the front wheel into the downhill singletrack, unlocked the Fox fork and let off the Juicy 3 brakes. Zoom, zoom. By the time I popped out of the very twisty, rough and loose stream bed singletrack, I was amazed. What had been simply a good bike as far as the first part of the ride had turned into a revelation in the twisties. I was not sure what to expect out of the combo of the Fox fork and the tapered steerer, the 15QR and the wide and deep Giant 29er rims, but I was stunned by how well the bike handled. The opening line in the XTC 29er 1 brochure says this: “The all new XTC 29er brings precise trail handling and agility to the world of 29-inch wheels”.

Well, obviously Giant does not have a lock on agility and precision, but they have hit the mark with this bike. It is a hoot to ride as the front end goes just where you point it and stays there until told otherwise. The bike feels short between the wheels and the 17.3″ chainstays make it an easy bike to steer with the hips, unweighting and sliding the bike around trail obstacles. It truly is the best XC oriented 29er I have ridden as far as steering precision. If this is the future of 29ers and it is being brought to us by the better forks, wheels, etc that the Giant has, I say it cannot come too soon.

The frame has a very acceptable ride as far as dampening trail chatter, the Fox fork is uber-supple and the Kenda Karmas seem to love the dry conditions we have this time of year.

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Before I had completed my first ride, the rear Juicy 3 brake was gobbling like a Thanksgiving turkey on the chopping block. Avid brakes, at least some models are notorious for this over the years. Why can’t this be remedied? I hate noisy bikes.

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Oh, the seatpost clamp had slipped again as you can see in the pic.

After my intitial ride, I studied the stats on the XTC 29er 1 and noted the 71.5* HT angle and the 72.5 ST angle. The wheel base I measure to be just under 44″ and the CS length is 17.3″. There is quite a good amount of mud clearance. The flattened stays are stuffed with a 1.9 Karma which sounds like a small tire, but on the very wide Giant 29er rims, the 1.9 Karma is a full 2.1 inches wide. The front 2.2 Karma is just over 2.2″ wide on the same rim.

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Giant advertises that the stock rims are Stan’s tubeless ready. I called Stans and apparently something was assumed in error. They do not presently have a kit that applies and the deep V rim is a challenge to get one to fit. However, one is in the works and as soon as it is ready, we will give one a try.

The next rides included a 90 minute fireroad climb and a fast descent on a wide, loose hardpacked road. The XTC 29er 1 is a good climbing bike but the nearly 28lb weight keeps it from being better than that. Still, the average weekend warrior will find it a very willing partner. On the fast downhill, the bike felt good and the steering precision remained. Here the shorter, agile feel was a bit less of a plus but I had no complaints.

Before I hit the bottom of the fireroad the front Juicy brake was squealing along with the gobbling rear brake. Quite a combo. Who needs trail bells?

The Giant XTC 29er 1 represents the next gen of 29ers in many ways. Along with the RIP-9, the Specialized carbon S-Works Stumpy hardtail, and a few others that are in the works, the purposely formed frames, the oversize steerers and improved hub/axle/fork interfaces of these bikes are making riding big wheeled bikes better and better. The XTC 29er 1 answers many of the complaints leveled against wagon wheelers: Vague steeing, flexy wheels, bus-like handling, and lack of low gears. It is not the lightest bike, but at $2000.00 it is less than many boutique frames on their own and is worth upgrading parts as you go; like brakes, maybe new hubs, cranks, etc.

The XTC 29er 1 will be around for awhile getting ridden and enjoyed. We will report back with a wrap-up in time.

Santa Cruz Tall Boy 29"er FS: Update

July 23, 2009

Some new information has surfaced via the Santa Cruz blog, “104bronson” and here is the latest on this technologicaly advanced rig set to hit the dirt late in 2009.

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Here’s some of the text from the latest blog posting….

“Carbon fiber frame – This’ll be our third carbon fiber bike, and the more time we spend working with the material, the more we are able to push into new definitions of stiffness and strength. Following in line with what we were able to achieve with the carbon Blur XC and LT models, we’re kicking around Tallboy frames that weigh right about 5 pounds (with shock) and are so insanely flex-free and fun handling that they blow all our earlier assumptions about big wheels and chassis flex right out of the water. Tapered head tubes, massive but super light chainstays and rear triangles, absolutely rock solid frames, and they’re still around 2 pounds lighter than most of the similarly targeted competition. Super stiff, super strong, super snappy.

VPP suspension – The Tallboy will have 100mm of travel. The lower link features the same 15mm aluminum pivot axles, titanium hardware, angular contact bearings, grease ports, durability and ease of maintenance as found on our Blur LT. There’s also a carbon fiber upper link, with the same trick hardware and angular contact bearings on the big axle. Clean, neutral pedaling without bob or feedback, and plush bump eating suspension performance across the board.

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Dialed geometry – Big wheels work well for a lot of people, but are a godsend for the big and tall set. As such, we’re sizing the Tallboy all the way up to XXL – which comes with an appropriately Andre the Giant approved 25.9″ top tube and 45.6″ wheelbase. All Tallboys otherwise feature the same short and stiff 17.5″ chainstays and sweet handling characteristics. They’re designed to excel in the “fun to race, really fun to rip singletrack, go for a big huge ride and come home with a sore face from grinning all day long” spectrum of riding.

Amazing weight claims and stiffness claims for a nearly four inch travel rig. It will be interesting to see how users will eventually kit these out, but if the claims are true, we fully expect to see rigs down near the 22.5-23.5 pound range. Price? As they say, if you have to ask………

Stay Tuned!

Giant XTC-1 29"er Hardtail: On Test

July 22, 2009

Editor’s Note: This post is brought to you by our SoCal friend, Grannygear.

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If you follow the buzz and rumor parade regarding who is and is not jumping on the 29er train, often the big players like Giant and Trek are mentioned as non-players since they have yet to introduce a 29er into the marketplace.

For Giant, at least, all that has changed for 2010. In an exclusive test, we will be putting the brand new and innovative XTC 29er 1 aluminum framed hardtail through a long term thrashing. Giant waited a bit and many say they were late to the dance. Was that apprehension? Was it doubt? Or did they just want to do it right the first time? Did they get it right?
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Stay tuned. But first, lets take a look at some details on this handsome fella.

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It is an XL (22″) sized bike we are riding. This is the largest size in the line-up and it has a 25″ C-C effective top tube length. It is set up with a Fox 32 F29 RL-100 fork w/15QR thru-axle and a tapered steerer.

Many of the bits and pieces such as stem, bars, seatpost, etc are Giant house brand items. So are the very nicely anodized blue pieces like spoke nipples and headset spacers. Did I say it was a good looking bike? It is.

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The wheels are a mix of Giant and Shimano with the rims being an interesting item. They are the new Giant P29 ALUXX double wall alloy, tubeless ready (they accept a Stan’s set-up but come off the showroom with tubes installed in the Kenda Karma tires). Speaking with Giant Bikes North America marketing guy, Andrew Juskaitis, Giant spent a lot of time getting the right balance of stiffness and weight in the P29 rim and it has a pretty deep V section shape.

I don’t have rim weight numbers yet…stay tuned. The front hub is a Giant brand and the rear is Shimano.

The heart of the bike is the ALUXX 6061 T6 frame. Beautifully hydroformed, there are all kinds of shapes going on here. Square to round to tapered to flattened to round. Mercy! The head tube accepts the tapered 1 1/8″ to 1.5″ steerer of the Fox fork.

Another notable item is the use of a 12-36 9 speed cassette. One of the jabs at 29ers is the loss of effective low gearing from the bigger wheels. The 36 tooth top gear of that cassette speaks to that albeit at a weight hit due to the Deore-level of the cassette. No nifty and lighter alloy spider here. Maybe someday.

I tossed it on the scale and it rung up at 27lbs 7oz. Not bad really for an XL bike at the $2000.00 price point.

We will be getting it dirty, letting some other riders try it, some who are 29er riders, some who are not, and we will see if this bike is all that and more. Just another 29 aluminum hardtail? We shall see.

Going Tubeless: What You Need To Know: Questions And Answers

July 21, 2009

One of the readers of Twenty Nine Inches- “Mickey”, had some great questions that were posted in the comment section of the last article. I thought I would break them out into their own post and share the answers with all of you readers. Here are some day to day issues one might face going tubeless.

What (do) you do with (old) sealant then, throw it away? Probably yes, but how?: This question can be answered in a few ways depending upon which sealant you are using. If you are using a latex based sealant and it dries up, there really isn’t any clean up necessary. Usually the sealant dries into “interesting formations” which Stan’s users have a rather uncouth name for. (!!) These can simply be discarded. If the sealant isn’t dried out though, it can be re-used. Recovery of old sealant from a tire usually is easiest when using a “syringe” type instrument such as the unit available from Stan’s or a similar product from CaffeLatex. Draw out the old sealant and mix it in with new sealant, then add it back into a new tire.

contiking09 036 An injector/syringe tool aids in sealant recovery as well as injecting sealant into tubeless tires.

Glycol based sealants are usually still wet after several months, but may be dried up to a thicker, gooey consistency. If you are switching out tires, it generally will be easier to wipe up the old sealant with an old rag or sponge. After getting the majority of the sealant out, you can wash with a soapy water solution and rinse with water to get any left over residue out. Your rag or sponge could be washed, or discarded with other hazardous waste.

How do you clean tires inside when changing to another (pair)?: Again, in a similar way to what I describe above. Just remember to discard the old rags or sponge with your other hazardous waste.


How do you put the tube (in) when the puncture is too big and you are on the (trail) ?
Once you have determined the sealant isn’t going to seal the puncture, you should release all the air in the tire, break down the beads from the rim, and remove the tubeless valve stem. All rather simple things to do, but the whole process is complicated by the mess of sealant you will encounter within your tubeless tire. I have experienced this a couple of times. My advice is to carefully install a slightly inflated tube and push the bead of the tire over the rim without removing the sealant out on the trail. (Of course, making sure you do not have a foreign object in the tire yet, or a tear that requires a tire boot.) Keeping sealant off the trail and off you is the best way, if at all possible.

In the case of Bontrager’s TLR rim strip, you will also want to make sure you have a long stemmed presta valve to allow good purchase with your pump or CO2 unit after installing the tube. I have also found that carrying a multi-tool with a pliers type tool helps in loosening the tubeless valve stem nut, which is generally too tight to remove by hand. (Make sure you pick up your valve stem and stow it before you ride away!)

How (do) all those sealants work during a winter time? Sealants that are water/latex solutions will freeze up. Sealants that are glycol based are much less likely to freeze up, but may become too thick to really seal any punctures depending upon how cold it is out and the particular sealant in question. Some home brew sealants use windshield washer solvent, which aids in keeping the solution from freezing. In my experience, tubeless tires will still work in winter, but you may not see the puncture protection benefits that you do in summer, or during warmer weather.

Okay, that’s a wrap on Mickey’s questions. Thanks Mickey for writing those in the comments section. Remember, if you have any questions, just put them in the comments. I try to answer all of them and I may use one of yours in a future post.

Going Tubeless: What You Need To Know: Day To Day

July 19, 2009

Now following up on the last post on Going Tubeless, here is a post dealing with your day to day living with a tubeless tire set up. This assumes you have a set up that is successfully sealed and ready to roll.

contiking09 033The difference between using a dedicated system and a mixed and matched set up is huge in the world of tubeless tires.

Using A System Or A Mixed “Rider’s Choice” Set Up: The way your tubeless tire set up will work depends upon what components you have chosen to work with to a large degree. A “system”, such as Bontrager’s, Stan’s, or a system using UST type components, will typically be much more successful and safe than a tubeless tire set up that draws from different systems or uses non-tubeless parts. Differences may include the ability to stay sealed, tire bead/rim interface issues, or even poorer tire performance.

Tubeless systems from Bontrager, Stan’s, or the UST developed rims and tires are not infallible systems, but they do require less fussing around with. Set ups using parts of other systems, or non-tubeless tires and home made sealing systems have success rates that vary about as much as the different combinations. It seems that a lot of folks have their particular favorites or have learned through trial and error to tweak out the bad and keep the good. However; one must discern whether they are willing to take the risk of possible failure and have the ability to take responsibility for their experimentation. For those who are not willing to take that gamble, then the systems that are offered now are your best bet. The good news is that several wheel manufacturers are working on tubeless rims/rim strips for their 2010 lines, so the list of choices will blossom soon.

bonty29-3-09 007Systems such as Bontrager’s Tubeless Ready System are very reliable typically.

Tires and Sealants: Tires and sealants are also part of the picture here and once again, we see tubeless ready tires, UST tires, and several sealants available or being concocted for use. Not everything out there is workable in a tubeless situation. Getting non-tubeless tires to seat, seal up, and stay on are probably the number one problems here. It can even run counter to what benefits tubeless tires are supposed to offer in terms of pressure. Non-tubeless ready casings often do not have the support to carry a load without the tube inside resulting in the rider needing to use higher pressures rather than the lower pressures one is supposed to be able to use when going tubeless.

Care And Maintenance: Tubeless tire set ups will require similar maintenance to tubed tire set ups. Pressures will have to be checked, inspection of the tires should be done on a regular basis. The only real difference here is maintaining your sealant. Some sealants will outlast others, but predicting what you will experience is difficult. The climate, the conditions your wheels are stored in, and whether or not you regularly get punctures will all affect how often you will need to replenish your sealant. A good rule of thumb is to check your tires every three months or less. You can shake the wheel, and perhaps hear the sealant sloshing inside. Otherwise a visual inspection will be necessary which will include letting the air out, breaking the bead, and looking inside.

A note on mixing sealants- While I have not dabbled in the mixing of sealants, some readers have asked me to comment on this. It is my opinion that latex type sealant and glycol based sealants should not be mixed together. I do not see any benefit in doing so. Some folks do add glitter, or some other small particles to aid in sealing punctures. There may be some positive benefit to this. (Actually, Slime Tubeless product actually has small bits of rubber in it to do exactly this.) My experience bears out that there isn’t anything wrong with using sealants as recommended. Slime, Stan’s, CaffeLatex, and others all do what they claim without assistance. Adding anything beyond some glitter to aid in sealing seems to my mind to be a gamble at best.

Next time: I’ll wrap up the series with an overview of where tubeless tire technology is now and where it should be headed.

2010 News And Rumors: Raleigh

July 16, 2009

I just got a quicky peek at the offerings coming from Raleigh for 2010 and I do not have pics of anything that you could get, but I do have some pics of a very special project that is a one off for you all. But first, the regular line ups details that I have so far…..

Steel Stays “Real”: XXIX- The XXIX enters its fourth year with the single speed, geared, and Pro models again, similar to last years models with only color changes and some other fine details being changed. I have learned that the XXIX will go from a pinch bolt type eccentric bottom bracket to possibly a split shell type. The XXIX Pro, a very limited edition, fully blinged out steel 853 tubed rig will again be offered on a super limited scale. If you missed out last time, get ready to pre-order, because the same protocol will apply for the 2010 model. Geometry remains the same as 2009 when the XXIX got a suspension corrected fork and all else stays the same there.

Aluminum Model Change: The Mojave will be gone in favor of a new model at a similar price point called the Talus. No details on it as yet, but stay tuned for more as I will be getting information soon on this and the other 2010 Raleighs.

And now for something completely different…………

Update: Editor’s Note:Pictures pulled due to a conflict with a “certain manufacturer of agricultural equipment” at the request of Raleigh. Sorry for any inconveniences.

Raleigh marketing did a trick single speed cross bike as a show piece last year and followed it up with a limited run of frame sets. Called the Raleigh “Rainier”, the look hearkened to the day when Seattle was home to the big brewery by the same name. Now Raleigh marketing honch, Brian Fornes is at it again with what he calls this “Mid-Western” influenced scheme on a one off 853 steel single speed frame.

I’m sure the rest of the build will be in tune with the theme here, but we will all have to wait for that later. What I do know is that this won’t be up for sale anytime soon- if ever. It is an interesting rig though, and an 853 XXIX single speed sounds like a heck of a good idea to me. I would suggest Raleigh might want to explore a frame only option on this. But then again, I am a single speed nutcase. Oh well!

Stay tuned for more updates soon!