November 25, 2010

Pearl Izumi Barrier MTB Shoe Covers

So when the going gets really tough, what you gonna wear? Those lightweight rain booties ain't gonna cut it. Here is what I wear when its cold, wet and nasty, and not just for mountain biking either. They aren't lightweights, but they aren't any heavier than any other neoprene shoe covers I have tried. Instead of a zipper on the back, they have a wide strip of velcro that seems to work just fine, thank you. No zipper to fail when it gets really gunky muddy.

I especially like the bullet proof front of the shoe. I think it keeps those cold-susceptible toes nice and toasty. Toastier than my generic brand full neoprene shoe cover. It looks just like carbon fiber!! And that's exactly what I tell everyone they're made of. Win, Win.

Another nice feature is the healthy, large cutout on the sole. Pretty well all the lugs on a mountain bike shoe are not covered by the bottom of the bootie. The cutouts are surrounded by some kind of heavy duty rubberized fabric not unlike the tubes on a zodiac boat. Wearing out the bottoms is a key weakness of traditional neoprene booties that usually ends their lives. These take on that issue with what looks like a much more durable and better-designed solution. I still take them off if I'm walking around much though. Stretch that cycling dollar!

Basically, the warmest shoe covers I have tried. A tad expensive, but they should last a long time. Recommended.

November 22, 2010

Pearl Izumi Barrier Lite Shoe Covers Review

So in an earlier post, I rated the Castelli Pioggia 2's as 'definitely not recommended'. So what then, you may ask, is a recommended shoe cover for rainy days? Well it just so happens that I have an answer to that important question. Originally, I bought these for time trialling. Wanted to get that aero advantage and truth be told, all my best TTs of the year were done with these babies on my feet. Although I like to think training played at least some part in my successful rides against the clock (and probably lack of it played a role in the not so successful rides). Team Garmin seems to like them and pretty well everyone wears something very similar to these slick babies.

But they also excel as a light wind and rain barrier just like the name says. They are made of some unknown waterproof stretchy fabric that seems to be very tough. I bought the large size for my size 44 feet and they take a bit of stretching to get onto my shoes. Hey, you don't want them flippy flapping in a time trial do you? They also are quite thin so they can very easitly be rolled up and stowed in a pocket when you don't want to wear them. I liked them so much, I bought a pair of XLs for my mountain bike shoes. That was about right - go up a size from the recommended size for mountain bike shoes.

Basically, they cost 25$ and are worth the cash. Highly recommended for TTs, cool rides and wet summer days. I bought mine at Excel Sports. Couldn't find a pair locally and I had races to race.

November 19, 2010

Tufo Sealant in Tufo Tubular Tires

I have been riding a few different versions of Tufo tires, both for road and cross. Not too long ago I was on a training ride and I got kind of lost in the woods. Not lost, I didn't know where I was lost. Just lost so that I had to ride my cross bike on some crappy mountain bike trails that had lots of roots and rocks to get back to where I wanted to go (because I hate backtracking). My tubular tires were bottoming out lots. About 15 minutes later, I noticed my back tire was pretty low.

Fortunately, I had my Tufo Sealant along with me for just such an occasion. Use the handy attached valve removal tool, squirt in half a bottle, put the valve back together, pump and ride. Now I have tried some of these sealant approaches in the past and they haven't been so successful. The best seal I could come up with was a slow leak. For example, Slime didn't cut it.

But the Tufo Sealant in the Tufo tire was different - no leak. In fact, it worked just as well as the front tire in terms of holding air for the last month and a half. The tire was out of service for part of that time so I could race on another tire. The Tufo tubular tires have no tube, so in a sense, they are like mountain bike tubeless tires, without all that burping. So it makes sense the sealant would work well. Although the Tufo's are by nature tough tires, this really ups the value of the Tufo's as a training tubular (and a racing tubular). No minor puncture will prevent you from getting your due mileage out of them.

When I tried to let out the air to remount it, I couldn't get any air out. Was that a problem? Not really. I just pulled the valve and rubbed the rubber substance off of it. It appears the sealant had turned to rubber and was no longer in liquid form. I also shoved a needle down the valve stem and cleared the rubber out of there as well.  Worked fine for emptying and filling the tire.

There is also a super duper Tufo Extreme sealant, but I haven't tried it yet. I also haven't tried either sealant in a non-Tufo tire - but I will.

Bottom line, I can ride tubulars and just bring this bottle around for a spare. This product is the first one that I have found that really works. As long as I don't totally slice the tire open. Then I need a phone.

November 16, 2010

How to Make Filling Your Disk Wheel Tire a One-Person Job

So after a very short amount of use, my Silca pump head for filling my disk wheel tire (commonly called a crack pipe) kept popping off the valve above about 100psi. So that meant filling my tire was a two-person job. Since I usually arrive late for races, this was a risky situation for me and a pain in the a$$. There just had to be a better way.

With considerable thought and many prototypes, I developed a very sophisticated method of keeping that crack pipe on the valve at high pressure. Fortunately, the handyman's helper - duct tape - saved the day. By wrapping up some duct tape using proprietary designs and equipment into a rough cylinder large enough to jam into the disk wheel, the crack pipe has nowhere to pop off too. So it just keeps doing its job.

The result? A sure fire way to inflate that disk wheel tire without fuss or muss. If you do happen to need this valuable piece of equipment, highly-skilled craftsmen using the proprietary designs and production equipment referred to in the previous paragraph, are  standing by to take your orders. For a suitable reimbursement of course.

Note the additional use of duct tape for covering the hole in the disk in the background of the photo? Of course that duct tape was purchased in black to go with the black disk theme. These are also produced by highly-skilled craftsmen using proprietary designs and production equipment. They are also for sale and can be custom fit to any disk wheel.

November 13, 2010

Making My Bike Weight UCI-Legal - One Technique

Since I bought my fantastically light new Reynolds wheels, I shed 400-500 g and my bike no longer meets the UCI weight limit. That's a good thing overall. But it does mean I have to do something to make my bike heavier for hill climbs as they weigh your bike just before you go to the start line in these parts. So I needed something that was easy to add to my bike, preferably without tools, that was equally simple to remove for the other 95% of races where they don't weigh bikes. I know, sounds a little like cheating doesn't it?

But those drugs must have been in that meat I ate.

Sorry, wrong excuse. I'm pretty sure that one won't work for this issue.

Even though everyone is doing it (I mean using bikes that are below the UCI weight limit of 6.8 kg, not the drugs), I guess that's no reason to cheat. But what can I say? I'm racing guys with way lighter bikes than I have (can you say Storck?). I'm using a Soloist for crying out loud, which is not known for being a lightweight. Not sure what their trick is for hill climbs, but here is mine.

I wasn't sure what my bike officially weighed, but I had a good idea it was a bit underweight. I simply took a couple of bolts with multiple nuts threaded onto them to the race. The bolts and nuts are sized to fit into my handlebars. I only started with one, and had to wrap electrical tape around it so it wouldn't rattle in the handlebar. Went to the pre-race weigh-in and I was just a bit under. Swapped out the nice titanium quick release for the mag trainer quick release and I was something like 9 g over the limit and fully legal. The key thing is I have lots of flexibility with this method to add or subtract nuts as required and avoid going too high over the limit. No sense penalizing yourself, you just want to make the weight limit. No tools necessary. Just pull out the handlebar plug, insert bolt/nut assembly and put the plug back in.

There you have it. A proven quick and easy method of taking the bike up to UCI weight. Low cost and very durable. Remember, it's only cheating if you take the bolt/nuts out of your handlebar for the next race, which I did (and replaced the quick release with the Ti version). Don't tell the UCI.

November 11, 2010

Cycling News - Hates Contador?

Just did the Cycling News poll to try and win a bike that doesn't fit me. But that's not the issue. In the list of best male riders of 2010, Contador isn't listed as a choice. Astounding and impossible that this is a simple mistake. Now I know he is under investigation for doping, but shouldn't we readers have a choice? Censorship sucks and at least they should wait for the outcome of the investigation before convicting him. He did win a couple of races in 2010 if I remember correctly. Greipel? Give me a break.

Get with it Cycling News. I thought you were a decent site. I'm going to have to rethink my links to your site (note: in protest there is no link to your poll). Not that you give a crap.

November 18, 2011 Update - Another year and cycling news still hasn't heard of Alberto Contador. Strange but true. Did the poll again, try to win the bike.

November 10, 2010

Hard-Man, Old-Style Cyclocross Video - Adventure Racing Style

This one is great - I think this could be a new sport - adventure cross racing. Although it clearly wouldn't be new, just resurrected. Have to be a reasonably nice day or you could die. Unfortunately, lawyers would probably screw the whole concept up.

Note the use of fixies (including the winner), singlespeeds, and bikes with derailleurs. Even a mountain bike singlespeed? Hmm. Everything new is well-forgotten old.

November 07, 2010

Crank Brothers Eggbeater SL, 3, and Candy C Reviews

I like Crankbrothers pedals. No fuss, no muss, they just work regardless of the crud you have on your shoe. And they are plenty light too. But there are differences between the various designs. First, the eggbeaters. The Eggbeater 3 is essentially a newer version of the eggbeater SL. Approximately the same grade of pedal. The body is different and instead of a nylon bushing on the outboard side, it has a bearing. Should make it better, but you can't actually tell in any kind of real world situation. The other thing to notice is that the pedal clips are closer to the crank arm on the 3 compared to the SL. You can see that in the photo. So your foot will be a bit closer to the crank arm as well. I never actually noticed this either until I lined the pedals up for the photo. Couldn't feel it on the bike, but if you have trouble with ankle clearance, this could be the straw that broke the camel's back for you. You would prefer the older pedal style (SL).

I have noticed one difference though when riding the two pedals. The 3 is slightly trickier to clip in than the SL. This is something that you would never notice mountain biking, but when cross racing I noticed I seemed to be worse than usual at clipping in this year (which was the first year for riding these pedals). I decided to switch back to the older SLs for the last two races of the year and I definitely clipped in quicker on my remounts. The SLs seem to roll better if you need to adjust your foot on the pedal. They have slightly more rounded clips than the 3 pedals. Other than that, I have no theories. I just know what I know. I will use the SLs for racing for now. Unfortunately, they are no longer made - but I have 3 pairs.

The eggbeaters have been very durable for me. I use them for commuting, mountain biking and cross. I have only broken one ever and that was when I bought the cheapest version of the SL-type pedals. I guess the equivalent would be the eggbeater 1 now. And I have hit them on the ground and on rocks on a number of occasions. Although I am sure they can be broken - can't everything?

Now for the Candy C pedals. The new equivalent would be the Candy 3, I suppose. Good pedals as well, but again, they don't clip in as fast. I originally bought them because I thought the small platform would be a good idea for cross. In the end I couldn't tell the difference and I now use them for commuting. They are a little heavier due to the extra hardware.

I have never tried the titanium pedals. Can't imagine they would be worth the extra cost and can't imagine they would be as durable. The 3 and SL pedals are so light I don't see the point.

20 October 2011 Update: This year I gave the 3s another go for cross. I figured 2 bearings have to be faster than 1 bearing and a bushing, eh? After an initial get to know them period, I now find I clip in just as well with the 3s as I do with the SLs. I did have a bad period that was due to installing new cleats on new shoes. The cleats loosened up slightly and this strongly affected clip in. When I re-tightened the cleats, bang - it all came together and worked just fine. The difference in "clip-ability" was surprising to me, given that the cleats required less than one turn to re-tighten. So there you go. The 3s look more bling, bling as well. Win, win.