June 26, 2011

Continental Gatorskin Tires Review

Are you tired of fixing flats? Want a tire that lasts forever(ish)? Then these are your babies. I have two versions - 700x23 folding for training and 700x28 wire bead. I bought the wire bead version for commuting. Turned out to be overkill and I expect to have these tires for a very long time. The rubber in these things is harder than normal tire rubber and they wear very slowly. Very, very slowly.

The cons? The 700x28 wire beads are a bitch to get on the rim. Good thing they never flat. Normally, I don't like to use a tire iron to remount tires to avoid pinching the tube, but these ones are killers. Extremely tight fit and very stiff casing. I had to use irons. The 700x23 folding are better but still hard on the thumbs. Also, the hard rubber does not give me any confidence in the grip of these things when surfaces get icy. These are for summer conditions only. And finally, these tires are not featherweights. The extra rubber makes them a tad heavy, especially the wire bead version.

The pros? I fear nothing with these tires, except perhaps slippery surfaces. These tires are more durable than I thought they would be. Gravel - hah! Who cares? I still avoid glass when I can, but that's just common sense. We don't have thorns here so I have no experience with their performance on thorns. And of course, the tires are wearing extremely slowly. Good value per mile/km. No evidence of any cuts on the casing which would not be the case for conventional tires after the several hundred km I have on them. The large size of the 28s gives a nice ride on crappy roads and chipseal. The 23s are a bit harsh compared to my high falutin clincher tires like Vittoria Rubino Pros but far more durable.

Overall, I would say the 28s are overkill for commuting and definitely overkill for training. Perhaps someone has big enough loads and bad enough roads to use these. I don't. I do use the 23s for training and they have become a permanent part of my tire arsenal when conditions are poor. Someday in the distant future when the 28s wear out, I will likely replace them with 25s (folding) for my commuter. The commuter always has to brave poor conditions. These tires aren't fast, but I have wheels for fast. Get the folding version if you can for the lightness and because they are easier to mount.

I hate fixing flats on a training ride or on a commute to work, or anywhere but at home after a ride. If you are riding dicey conditions - gravelly roads, potholes, etc. or carrying loads, these tires are a very good choice.

June 12, 2011

Gary Fisher - Lookin' Hard Core

Not much to say about this. Found him on facebook by accident. Great pic. Bikin' isn't just an instant gratification activity. It appears riding pays off in the long run too. Charlie Kelly is on the left and Joe Breeze is on the right. Want more? Check this out.

I was too chicken to send a friend request.

June 05, 2011

Sidi Genius 6.6 Road Bike Shoes Review

Over the years I have been very happy with my Sidi shoes. These are my 3rd pair of Sidi road shoes and I have a pair of Sidi mountain shoes as well. The others were always leatherish (lorica) material and were always very comfortable. In addition they are impervious to water, mud, etc. Just clean them off, dry them, and they are ready for more. With no maintenance. The only thing that seems to kill them off is sliding across pavement which seems to wear holes in the sides similar to my own hide. All the parts are replaceable and you can easily find replacement hardware to fix the various buckles and straps. Nice - because a couple of times over the years my dog has chewed my plastic straps. Also, I recently broke a buckle in a crash and simply ordered a new pair for $30 (can't buy one it seems). Expensive shoes, but they were worth it.

The difference with these Genius 6.6 babies is they have much more synthetic mesh. I have the red ones - they were much, much cheaper than more conventional colors in the same model when I was looking, so SOLD. Unlike the previous models I have used, these have the fancy heel-lock plastic do-hickey over your achilles tendon. This is supposed to stop your heel from slipping during sprints or something. An affliction I had never had a problem with. I have found that the V-shape of this thing doesn't match the shape of my heel and it creates a sore spot. Consequently, I have now removed mine entirely. Comfy, but certainly defeats the purpose. I don't see this as anything but a gimmick and I don't like it. I understand Sidi has revised the design to make them a bit wider and more flexible. Perhaps they won't hurt your heels anymore, but they still do nothing I can detect.

The other issue with these shoes is that they took forever to break in. All that synthetic made them very tough - and they didn't want to conform to my foot. One foot in particular. I tried pouring water over them while riding and before riding, and of course sweated profusely on them, but the synthetic was slow to respond. I had a hot spot behind my little toe on one foot for about 2 years if I did them up firmly. It gradually went away and it is gone now. I have never had this problem with Sidi shoes before.

Did I mention these shoes last? Basically, they are as good as new after a couple of years of hard riding in all kinds of weather. Over 10,000 km for sure. And now they fit like a glove. Something the other Sidi shoes I had did much more quickly. But these seem especially durable. If I had to do it again, I would go with the Genius 5 model. Save a bunch of cash and drop the heel gizmo. Get the shoe material that seems to break in faster. But I can't do that until about 2020 when these ones wear out. Unless I have one of those long skidding crashes of course that wears through the shoe uppers. I keep hoping.