As promised, here's another post I started and never finished. Maybe started it in June and worked on it in August. I tell you, sometimes it takes me a long time to get two coherent sentences together. Our cable and Internet is out due to spokane's recent windstorm - but we have power thank lob! - so I'm posting this from my smartyphone. Blogger informs it doesn't like my browser, so we'll see how this turns out. Any errors or omissions are solely my fault, as I haven't proofread this too closely. And it strays into bike geometry territory on which I have no clue. So here goes...
I ride my Fargo to work sometimes and I think the same thing each time - maybe smooth 2" tires are the best all around tire option. The 2.2" Continental Race Kings smooth out the cracks and holes in the city streets, and I can ride home on the rocky single track trails better than I can on the Vaya's 700 x 40 tires. They may be a little slower on pavement, but the ride is less jarring.
Well if you haven't noticed, there's been a minor explosion of interest in what's being termed "all road bikes" and there are a lot more options in the wide tire market. I check out Off the Beaten Path blog from the folks at Bicycle Quarterly sometimes - I can only take it in small doses as it's mostly about randonneuring and what the editor Jan Heine terms high performance bikes (as opposed to racing bikes - there's a difference I guess) and frequent mention of wide, supple tires. I'm all for tires wider than 23-28mm as I get embarrassed by bikers who look at a stretch of dirt or gravel and go yikes I can't ride my road bike on that! And then complain in public forums and make bikers look like wusses. It's just too much sometimes.
Shoot where was I?
Oh yeah, Jan Heine had preferred 42mm (650B of course) wide tires for riding off pavement and felt he didn't need any wider than that. I always wondered about that and figured he may not ride very rough roads or trails, as I prefer the 2"+ tires on the Fargo for deep gravel, rutted dirt roads and single track. BQ did some experimenting, and he's changed his mind. With the help of Panaracer, they had some knobby tires with extra light casings made, and then shaved off the knobs. The results: off-pavement the "wider tires are simply amazing" and on pavement the rolling resistance is no higher than on narrower tires.
The good news is that Compass Bicycle, the component arm of BQ, will be offering these wide, supple tires. See The Enduro Allroad Bike (oh boy another bike category for BikeSnob NYC to make fun of!). The bad news is they will be available only in 26 x 2.3/54mm and 650b x 48mm, but no 700c. I'm not sure if I want that thin of a casing on those rocky, weedy trails around here anyway.
There's reasons for no 700c - something about short instead of long chain stays, road Q factor as opposed to mountain bike Q. Something about a preferred road geo vs mtb because road is faster. I like longer chain stays, and mtb Q factor doesn't bother me - I think the Vaya and Fargo have a wider Q, what with the mtb derailleur and gearing.
I could always convert the Fargo to 650b, but I'm cheap and maybe will some day search out some smoother 29" tires. As commenters on the BQ blog pointed out, there are other brands that offer smooth tires. Rawland is offering the Ravn with 26" wheels. If you want 650b, you could of course get an Elephant National Forest Explorer, the better option.
Thanks for reading, and ride safe, far, and wide.