Hodag, part 2.

20 01 2016

I got hold of the 46mm aluminium WTB presta valve, taped the rim with some 3M 764 and got busy with the airshot. BAM! up it went.

It held pressure with no sealant and at 25psi, the measurements are 745mm diameter, 87mm casing width and 93mm tread width. The casing appears to be around 68mm from rim edge to outer diameter, and 73mm if the knobs are included, but the accuracy of this is questionable as the vernier gauge was eyeballed. The rim is 45mm internal.

I will leave it overnight at high pressure and see how it stretches out and settles onto the rim. I am expecting the diameter to increase slightly given others’ measurements of a similar set up.

I think this is probably über plus, rather than fat.


Good stuff.

23 10 2013

Occasionally when I come to update my blog, the only things that spring to mind are domestic, work or even weather related issues. When this happens, it usually means that riding has taken a back seat for what ever reason. None of this stuff is of any interest to anyone, so the blog gets a bit neglected.

Sometimes though, there have been some intermittent points worthy of note: collected here are a few things that I have been messing about with and they may prove thought provoking to others. I know I would certainly value any opinions and input.

The bikes have all been working flawlessly. Several routine-maintenance-type updates were required, though. The Jones headset (a Cane Creek Jones ‘special’ 100) finally wore enough to begin creaking with a tiny amount of play after, what, 4 years? In this case, the angular contacts were a little worn, meaning that new bearings weren’t going to remedy the situation. After thinking options over, I decided to replace it with a dual griplocked King headset. Fitting this was very tricky indeed because the griplock system seems to grab the steerer tube under extremely minimal compression, easily done as you try to hold the truss and all the parts in the correct order, and pass the ‘floating’ steerer tube through. It is hard to explain until you try it, but eventually after splitting two of the green rubber o rings that help to fully snug up the griplock, I put a bigger chamfer into the steerer tube, which allowed it to pass through the second, lower griplock more easily.

The pewter colour is dark, but the sotto vocce graphic has been my favourite since it’s introduction. In use, smooth.

The next update was to pull the Knard/UMA snow rim/Paul Whub combo off the front of the Jones, replacing it with the original edge am rimmed wheel with a Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5/XC exo sidewall (rather than the heavy duty DH version) with dual compound tread. I have initially fitted tubes, because these rims are the older, non tubeless style, but even with a fairly beefy tube, it dropped 400g from the Knard/UMA combo. 400g! Initial impressions are that even running at 17psi, it is in no way as plush as the Knard set up, BUT the DHF has so much grip it may be worth persisting.

It is widely known now that fat bikes will take over the world and, as such, there have been a slew of carbon fibre rims shown at trade shows recently. In addition, various companies offer chinese made carbon 29er rims in various widths, including Derby, who offer a 35mm 29er rim.

In theory this would allow me to mount a Knard, whilst keeping the wheel weight down. I will wait to see how these rims perform for others over time. One concern I have is that they have drilled non-angled nipple holes, which makes them a bit tricky to build with a Whub, that has such wide flange spacing. I’m sure that before too long an even wider carbon fibre rim will be available, so I am going to keep my eyes peeled, and my mind open. 40-45mm would be ideal with the Knard I think. Meanwhile, the Rabbit Hole rims have been trouble free and once the wheels are rolling, the girth is maybe even a benefit, in a flywheel sort of way. After years spent trying to get light durable wheels, it is clear that there is a place for heavier wheels too.

Along with this on the Jones, I finally succumbed for the second time to making a bike tubeless. The Vertigo cycles Maul has the newer style enve tubless ready XC rims, which are a bit more puncture prone in the rough stuff than the AM rims, so I though it might be worhtwhile to try. I am using Conti Revo sealant, which is problem free at this early stage and a Conti MKII 2.2 bc/protection on the rear. I wanted to run a 2.4 version on the front but I couldn’t seat it with my Lezyne dirt drive, a ghetto set up, CO2 or a proper compressor. In the end I got hold of a 3C exo High Roller 2 which popped into place with minimal effort with the track pump and is superb in the mixed conditions I ride. I used to use Maxxis a few years ago exclusively and they are certainly back on the menu now. The High Roller is 900g or so and a real grippy tread and compound.

The Works Components thick-thin rings have been fantastic, finding their way onto BA and soon Maul as well. Several trouble-free months in the muck on the Krampus have been inspiring. If you need a high quality ring for a 1x build I would thoroughly recommend them. I have been researching the fitting of a 11-36 cassette with Saint 10 speed derailleur and I think I have a clear way to ascertain if this combo will strain the mech too much for these bikes. More on this in a stand alone post.

A very recent addition to a couple of bikes has been the new Jones 710mm loop bar. Basically this adds a bit (25mm iirc) to both grip ends, while keeping the looped section the same. I almost didn’t notice the difference after fitting them, which in some ways was good as I had anticipated lots of hang ups on the tight trees around here, but this has been a non-issue. However, when I look down, I do notice that my hands are around 1.5cm further back on the grips than I would normally be able to with the narrower, original bars. Overall, I like them a lot – a subtle improvement. Strangely, they are considerably better when it comes time to push the bike over very rough ground or up über steep pitches – very few strikes on my calf with the pedal. An unexpected benefit to me, but maybe not so strange. My understanding is that the Surly guys were keen to have the additional width when offering these bars with some of their bikes and this was off the back of a few gnarly off road adventures that involved a fair amount of off bike time as well as super tough, rocky terrain. In such circumstances, a wider bar is likely to shine for multiple reasons.

Last, but not least, I’m working on something new…a short trail. It will be called ‘Fearsome’. So far, I have cleared it once. More to add, but it will be a testing addition.

Glen Tilt.

6 07 2013

It always happens like this. I spend the evening getting my kit and bike sorted, a destination in mind. By the time I turn the light off and try to get some precious sleep, I begin to wonder if I ought to strike out for somewhere new, unknown. I drift off to sleep, with trails in my dreams. Over coffee, I pull out some maps, crank up the internet and do a little research. An hour of riding time slides by and I haven’t left my home. Then 2 hours. Frustration bubbling, I finally throw everything in the car, and head to where I was going in the first place, or – if I have evaporated too much time – I just ride off with out any clear plan and a furrowed brow. So it goes.

The last time this happened, my original intention was to do the ‘classic’ Glen Tilt loop. I have no idea how many times I have ridden the route, pretty much exactly as it appears in countless guidebooks and magazines, but for some reason always (to my mind at least) in reverse: it is better anti-clockwise. It may not breed contempt, but it is so familiar it lacks excitement.

However, it is close, gives a taste of ‘out there’ and scratches the itch for solitude that I always feel. So, after messing around, looking at Glen Lyon, various other places and generally asking more questions than i answered, I decided to go with the flow and head up the A9. And, to be fair, I have not ridden the classic loop for several years, indeed the last time I was there I went over Beinn a’ghlo.

It had been relatively dry and I was optimistic that both the Allt Girnaig crossing and the peaty, heather covered ground on the other side, before the land rover tack down to Daldhu would be easily rideable.

So it was. The descent from there was very enjoyable, despite it being a wide, loose land rover track. The Maul was handling telepathically. The new rear, tubeless, set up felt superb and offered excellent traction. The whole bike just amazes me every time i ride it.

After turning at Daldhu, I realised that perhaps the reason I had been making such good time was the howling wind! Penitence was the name of the game as I crawled my way up to Fealar Lodge. Again, the recent dry weather meant the usually boggy, grassy trail down to the Falls of Tarf was in superb condition. I met another rider, doing the route clockwise, and then a few guys who were battling a broken chain before I made my way down Glen Tilt, again, screaming into the wind, back to Bridge of Tilt. Overall, completing the 54 km loop in 3 hours 45 minutes was pretty satisfying. I worked very hard down Tilt, my legs felt like they would split, but I am getting some strength back. Time to plan another big ride.


22 06 2013

A few days ago, I decided to explore an area close to home. In order to make a day of it, I planned to ride out through Mugdock, poke around the triangle of uncharted territory in question and then follow the West Highland Way further until I could join a trail that used to be an old railway line. This leads to Croftamie, a small village west of Glasgow, where I could ride alongside a meandering burn I have always been curious about.

It was a beautiful day, with a brisk wind that kept the midge at bay, which was most welcome when I took the narrow trail through dense foliage between Strathblane and Glengoyne distillery. The trail is also on an old rail line and has a very steady grade, but it has grown in, no doubt due to the heavily used WHW being routed close by.

All in all, it was an interesting diversion. For a while, I followed the WHW, then turned, took a narrow bridge across a river and climbed up towards Croftamie. Another, higher, bridge offered fine views of the mountains and some gorgeous clouds. There was no rush, so I stopped to have a sandwich and watch as the little fluffy clouds rolled by.

The trail from Croftamie was short, but sweet. It popped out at Dalnair House, an old baronial mansion that later became a nursing home and has now fallen out of use. It is a beautiful building and as I watched a deer bound past a dilapidated tennis court I wondered what would become of it.

From here, I took the road up to Queens View and the Whangie, then back into Mugdock and home.

It is interesting to look more closely at what is under your nose. You may not always discover a gem, but it is always enlightening.

During the ride, the rear hub on the Krampus became considerably noisier than I have been used to. It slipped several times, which it has done on occasion since new, but this was worse. A few nights later, as I pedaled out on a group ride, it gave a loud crunch on a rocky climb and from this point on it refused to freewheel consistently. I needed to bail on the ride and by the time I got home I had to pedal continuously in order to avoid jamming the chain because the cogs would not allow me to coast. When I first got it, I was unsure what I would think about the Krampus, so I didn’t want to sink too much money on componentry. However, I recall feeling uneasy about using the M785 XT hub. I had heard rumours of problems with other recent XT hubs, but assumed it had been ironed out.

On inspection, the freehub body mechanism was toast, I was in no doubt that the pawls had shattered. With replacement of the freehub body being around the same cost as a new hub, and with no indication that Shimano has changed the design to remedy the part. I decided to invest in a better quality hub. A Hope Pro II evo will be built into the Rabbit Hole soon. Again, spoke length is causing me a bit of a headache, ideally the non-drive side would have 299mm spokes. I will perhaps go into this in more detail soon.

The situation is, of course, disappointing. The wheel has been in use for 3 months and I would not expect to have to rebuild a wheel within 2 years usually. It is a waste of money in terms of replacing spokes as well. XT level componentry is usually bomber and it looks like Shimano dropped the ball on this one, which is (fortunately) rare.

Along with rebuilding the rear Krampus wheel, I will be building a geared rear wheel for my ‘cross bike. The Iron Maiden lies unused for much of the year, a situation I want to change. It is a singlespeed specific frame, but I intend to use a 10mm thru axle rear hub (built on to a No Tubes Iron Cross rim) with an old Saint M800 rear derailleur, a Dura Ace bar end shifter, a 9 speed cluster (11-34) and a 48 tooth front ring. This will give me a broad enough range to tackle steep-ish climbs off road, but allow a good turn of pace on the tarmac. Hopefully, along with file tread 35mm tyres, this will make for a versatile set up.

More as it happens.

The Xtracycle has been in almost constant use. There is no doubt as to it’s versatility – dropping off Daisy and hauling stuff – but it can feel a little heavy up hill. No matter! you will grow strong, pedaling this sort of bike!

Lastly, I used Continental Revo sealant and a 2.2 Mountain King II Protection to go tubless on the back of Maul. It has been several years since I used a tubeless set up. Once I get some miles in, I will decide whether it will stay or not.