Saturday, September 27, 2014

New Tires - Freedom Ryder

I know you're all extremely interested in what tires I'm running on my Vaya. Been wanting to switch to slightly narrower tires than the Clement MSO 40c tires for a few reasons, one being better fender fitment.  I've seen reports of SKS P55 fenders fitting the Vaya with the MSO's, but I've had a little trouble getting my front clip-on fender just right with the front rack on there, too.  Another reason for switching: the Clements are oriented more towards gravel riding than commuting.  Also, after 1200 miles or so, there's good wear on the rear tire I bought last November.  Not too bad, but I'd like something longer lasting for the city.

So I finally bought some new ones.  I went for cheap and heavy - the Freedom Ryder 700 x 38 at 665 grams, $26.  I like the 38c size for the Vaya - it's a good combo of width and grip for the pavement, urban single track, gravel streets I find on my way home, and other off-pavement rides, but will fit fenders easily.

Chief Tire Inspector Dash
The heft is noticeable - could be my imagination, but when I lift the bike I swear it feels 5 pounds heavier.  They have a tread pattern similar to the MSO but less knobby. I'm pleased with the smoothness of the ride at 60psi compared to the MSO's, but they're not as sure-footed.  I get a little worried on those slight downhill turns where there's debris and gravel in the street, but part of it is I just need to get used to the quicker handling.

I considered a few other tires in the 38c range before getting the Freedoms. We have Pasela Tourguards on Debbie's blue Redline cross bike and I like how smooth they ride.  But Universal Cycles was out of the 37/38c size TG/PT's and I don't like the tan sidewalls for looks (too grimy for one thing) and think the Vaya needs black sidewalls.

The Resist Nomad 45c tires were tempting at only $22 a pop but I think I'd have trouble getting even clip-on fenders over them for the rainy days.  They do make them in 35 but I'm stuck on something a little wider.

I considered the Schwalbe Little Big Ben 700 x38, $40 from RivBike.  Not sure about the tread pattern, might be too much.  Compass Bicycles has broken down and now offers a wider 700c tire - Barlow Pass 700 x 38, $59 380g but with tan sidewalls, and $78 for the extra light ones at 327g.  Some report the Compass tires are long lasting, others reports quick wear and flats - probably the difference in opinion is same for any tire.  I'd read the new ones might be running smaller than stated, so that was a negative.

So in the end I gambled on the Ryders since they were less expensive than many other tires.

I only have a few commutes on them but I like them. I don't notice the extra heft while rolling, and they're quicker and smoother than the Clements. The Clements have an edge when rolling over cracks in the street.  The Ryders  have what is billed as an "Urban Barrier" for flat protection, but I don't have much faith in any tire's protection against the debris in the streets.  Hoping they're better than the Clements in that regard.

The true test of the tires for me was how they handle the dirt trail at the end of Nettleton Street before NW Blvd, because the Vaya is not just for city street riding.  I was surprised that even at 60psi they had grip in the loose dirt/debris and were close to the Clements in handling.

An aside: 38mm is a good size for city riding, but I'm starting to think 2" mountain bike tires with minimal tread would be perfect. Every once in awhile I ride my Fargo to work, and it just rolls over any cracks and holes in the pavement without a care. Plus it handles the trail below Gov't Way with ease if I want to got that way home.

Another aside: tire pressure. I'd been running the Clements around 50psi to smooth out the street bumps and cracks.  I recently had it in the shop for service, and it came back with the tire pressure higher around 65-70. I noticed that while running over cracks there was a sharper jolt, but it was quicker, and the tires didn't sink into the crack.  Hard to explain what I mean, but I'm finding 60psi is a good compromise - not too high to still have some cushion, but not so low so that the tires squirm in the corners or sink into the cracks.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Passing other bikecyclists

I don't ride real fast to and from work, but I like to keep a good pace. I'm definitely not part of the slow bike movement. I bike fast enough to catch up to another biker every once in awhile on my commute, and I hesitate to pass them.  I feel kind of bad zipping by.  Maybe I've got a faster bike, maybe I'm in better shape and I don't want to show them up.  So instead I'll usually slow down for a bit, then turn off on a side street and take an alternate route.

It's the bikers in regular clothes that I don't like to pass - if they look like they're on a training ride, I'll zip on by without any qualms and give a small wave or 'morning'.

It's funny, but once in awhile I get passed by someone from out of nowhere, and I don't like it. I'm tempted to keep up with them and engage in some CAT 6 racing.  Or if I notice someone behind me, I'll kick it up another notch in an effort to not get passed.

The guy in the picture above - I slowed down and debated about passing, or turning off, or maybe even being sociable (me?) and make a little small talk.  Eventually, I turned off at the next intersection.  It seemed rude to pass going uphill.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Downtown Bike Pics

Hold tight it's another exciting edition of Downtown Bike Pics (best if internally voiced like that old song "One Step Beyond"!).  Downtown gets an interesting mix of bikes from the everyday-garden-variety to the unusual, and here are some from the last few months.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

i never have the gopro on when i need it

Last week my wife's running group went to Antoine Peak and I tagged along with my Fargo.  Bike-wandering around, I noticed a stump alongside the trail a couple yards ahead.  I got closer and saw the stump had hair.  Thick, brown fur.  Then the stump started to move and I go yikes!  First thought was a bear, but the stump metamorphosed into a huge moose lying down alongside the trail.  I mean it was big!

I hit the brakes and it got up and trotted off around the corner.  I cautiously went forward and got a shaky one-armed phone pic:

He looked at me, and I finally decided maybe I should just  turn around. Which I did until I stopped to check out the pic and saw it was blurry. I then creeped back to the spot hoping to get a better pic, but the big guy was gone. Wished I'd taken the time to mount the gopro on the bike before leaving home.

There have been other times when it would've been nice to have the gopro:

Like the time out on Mission or Greenwood Rd and two huge marmaduke dogs running at an angle ahead of me, trying to cut me off - barely made it past them. Yep, no gopro on.

Or the time riding down Pettet Dr and a shaggy creature with a bobbed tail crossed the street. Thought it was a dog until it jumped up on the guard rail post in an un-doglike fashion, more like a cat. Still not sure what it was, but bobcat is my best guess. Maybe I'd know if I had the gopro on.

Or when riding home on Howard St, and and two guys in an old pickup at the cross street ahead of me blasted through a stop sign going 40-50mph. 

Sometimes I think I should always the gopro on for evidence, especially in the case of a traffic accident, but also for those crazy crashes where you wonder just what the heck happened.  I don't like having it on the handlebars or helmet all the time. There are cases like these that are encouraging me to find a good out of the way spot on the bike to keep a gopro mounted all the time.