November 30, 2011

Installing Studs on Bike Tires - Without the Proper Tool

Foreground left stud is falling out, foreground right isn't good either
Anyone can put studs into a tire with the correct tool for the job, I suppose. Haven't actually tried myself because I really don't install studs on my tires. However, I just purchased a couple of new studded tires and I decided to inspect the studs before use. I found that my excellent and very studly new Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires had a few very poorly installed studs that were definitely going to fall out as soon as I went for a ride. So, being very handy, I took a pair of needlenose pliers, pushed a bit and OOPS, the stud popped out of the tire and fell on the floor.

Jagwire brake cable ferrule - now a stud holder too!
Dang! How the heck do I get that thing back in my tire where it belongs? I haven't even ridden them once yet. The needlenose pliers alone didn't seem to work. Trust me, I tried. If only I had something that could hold the stud, yet leave enough of it sticking out that I could push with the pliers at the same time. Voila, a brake cable "ferrule" seemed to fit perfectly, at least for these carbide studs (yes I learned my lesson about steel studs). Sure enough, with a little bit of trying, I figured out how to replant that stud where it belonged. And best of all, I can fix it right now, no waiting and no obscure tool purchase required. Which was important because this was yesterday and it was supposed to snow a fair bit overnight - and it did. The tires came in handy this morning and I made it into work crash free, unlike some people I know (and work with).

Turns out I had to use it a couple of times as I inspected my tire and tried to push unseated studs back into the tire. Usually they went in OK. Twice I slipped a bit and they popped out and fell on the floor. Anyhow, want to see how I did it? Watch the short educational and interesting video below.


November 24, 2011

Toronto Mayor Thinks Cyclists Are A Pain In The Ass?

You may not get all of this if you aren't a Canadian. But you really have to scroll down to look at the suit jacket. That jacket transcends all nationalities, cultures and styles as a universal symbol of bad taste. Sorta like all his other clothes.

Straight shooter, Councillor (Now Mayor) and cycling expert Rob Ford provides well thought out comments on cycling in a very focused and logical speech on the subject.....Fascinating in a train wreck kind of way (or a high quality compilation of bike crashes).

And in a related story: Don Cherry's Senility Continues To Progress
For some reason the mayor of Toronto thought it would be a good idea to have a pretty ancient hockey commentator give a speech at his swearing in ceremony. Must be a big fan I guess.

They call him Grapes, but probably they need to change that to Drapes. Donny Drapes. Apparently, all his jackets are made of material left over from the big drape material manufacturing bust in the 50's. Good to see him recycling though. Imagine the amount of useful material that has been saved over the years. And nobody would use that material for anything else, not drapes, not chesterfields, nothing.

Well after a brief stumbling segue, Drapes started his speech with:

I'm wearing pinko for all the pinkos out there that ride bicycles and everything, I thought I'd get it in.

Well, that's the first time I have heard the term pinko in decades. I think Archie Bunker last used it in the 70's. In Drapes' mind, cycling (and everything) is a political statement. I guess he missed out timing wise - too young for cycling's golden era of the early 1900's (at least he doesn't remember it anymore), and too old to understand there are other sports besides hockey, another sport I enjoy. Drapes seems to be pissing off everyone lately including the toughest guys in hockey. Getting a little cranky in his golden years.

Well Drapes did admit he was befuddled immediately after the cycling comment, so on behalf of cyclists everywhere, apology accepted. Really, he's just someone's crazy old grandpa that happens to get on TV. You can't get too upset about his comments. He probably forgot what he said 5 minutes later. Just be thankful he's not your great uncle coming to stay at your house for Xmas.

Anyways, if you want to see Drapes latest apparel, inciteful cycling commentary, and a mayor that really, really, really needs to go for a bike ride, or any kind of exercise whatsoever, take a look at this. Don't worry, you only have to watch 35 seconds, the rest is blah, blah, blah.

Poor Toronto - what were you thinking? Imagine the hell for the next 4 years.

My Eyes! My Eyes!

November 21, 2011

Innova Tundra Wolf Studded Snow Tire Review

Back tire on the right, front tire on left, back studs quite worn after only 55 km
C'mon China, you can do better than this. Usually I take a while to make a call on the quality of something new. That's because most stuff works pretty well and it takes some time to reveal the flaws. In this case, the flaw was apparent very quickly. The studs wear out exceedingly fast. I only have 55 km on these tires and the back tire studs are about half worn out.The front tire is still OK. Most of that distance was pavement, but that is wearing way too fast and there is no way these studs will last the winter, at least on the back tire. There is always exposed pavement for portions of my winter rides, no matter how much it snows. And I ride to work every day.

From the direction of the wear, it is all from accelerating, not braking. Now I would like to claim credit for enormous physical prowess over those 55 km, but the truth is cross season is over and I am just cruising this time of year. Enormous physical prowess is over for the year, baby. Which makes that amount of wear even worse.

Carbide studs work as well as new after many km
Thinking of buying a set? Do you ever ride on pavement in winter? Then don't. Steel studs suck. You need carbide studs and according to this site, only Nokian and Schwalbe use them. This site is a very good studded tire resource by the way and perhaps deserves your business. I do have experience with Schwalbe Ice Spiker tires personally (see photo to left) and a friend rides the Marathon Winter model too. I had mine for several years and he rode his every day last winter. Both have carbide studs and both have proven to be essentially impervious to stud wear, including on pavement. I also noticed that Kenda uses carbide studs.

Once again - if studs are what you need and pavement is part of your winter riding, do not buy the Innova tires.

ps. Not sure if they are made in China, but it makes a good lead-in line. Doesn't say where they are made on the tire sidewalls. I guess they feel shame and don't want us to know.

November 19, 2011

How Not to Ride in a Paceline

Another good cycling crash laugh. Those helmet cams are priceless. I can think of five things, any one of which would have prevented the final handlebar vault.
  1. Don't ride the aero bars in a paceline - you need those brakes handy.
  2. So you don't overlap wheels.
  3. Be aware of where people are around you. Don't change your line without knowing if you are about to take someone out.
  4. When your front wheel is falling apart on you, hit the back brake and stop before you crash. Coasting to a gradual stop isn't advisable.
  5. Use a sturdier wheel. That wheel fell apart pretty easily and I would say it was under designed spoke-wise. It definitely ain't a Reynolds.
Most importantly, if you have the camera, make sure you get it all on film. Excellent.

November 18, 2011

New Masters Cycling Record? 63 Years Old and Busted For Doping!!

Now we all know master's racers are competitive. But 63 years old, and even with doping only finishing 5th. Or at least, refusal to pee in the cup. Same diff. I'm guessing its a record - oldest doper ever. Wow, that guy really takes this sport seriously. Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike - what were you thinking? As you can see from the table below from USA cycling, unspectacular results overall, but I expect he was building for next year - who isn't? Well I guess he can dope like crazy now and in 2014, look out! Unless he dies before then of course. But Mike no matter how you cut it, you won't beat Dave Viney (a Canadian by the way).

I think Dave's been working out....

I always get a kick out of these stories, being a more mature racer myself. By the way, those old Floridians (and transplanted Canadians) are fast! Check out the times for 40 km (up to age 64) by clicking on the first link in the table below.

Race Results for Michael Diamond Racing Age 63 from Saint Augustine, FL
PlacePoints  Name  USAC #  Time  Bib  Team

10/08/2011 - 2011 Florida State Time Trial Championships | Time Trial | | |
DQ542.89Michael Diamond17830201:33.4

03/12/2007 - Squiggy Classic | Road Race | Cat 5 | |
19-Michael Diamond178302

Gruppo Strada

02/18/2006 - Race for Humanity | Road Race | Cat 5 | |
7-Michael Diamond178302

02/12/2005 - TEAM FLORIDA RACE WEEKEND | Individual Time Trial | | MR | 55-99
5-Michael Diamond178302

Gruppo Stradda

03/10/2001 - Festival of Speed | Road Race | | MR | 50-99
5-Michael Diamond178302

03/11/2001 - Festival of Speed | Criterium | | MR | 50-99
6-Michael Diamond178302

November 17, 2011

Selle Italia SLR Monolink - A Saddle Soft As A Young Womans Face

I can't be the only one who finds this ad in Velonews somewhat odd. She looks a bit worried and I don't blame her. Who could possibly think this is a good analogy? Her face doesn't even look all that comfortable or friction free. The ad is funny in an offbeat way, but I doubt that was the intent. They must use the same ad agency GM uses. For a serious review of the saddle (it ain't that great, but it is reassuringly expensive), go here.

November 14, 2011

Boyd Cycling 38mm Carbon Tubulars Review

So $800 for a pair of 1200 g aero carbon tubular wheels (but not anymore - see update at end of post). That definitely got my attention. I was thinking some carbons would be nice for cross and I was considering running my Reynolds rims. I was sure they could take the stress, but the front one was out for repair after my unfortunate crit incident and I did feel a bit uneasy about riding them through sand. I was sorta happy with my Williams cross wheels, but they are heavy and I was hoping to lighten things up a bit.

The Boyd wheels are light - lighter than I have seen for these prices. Light enough to save about a pound over my Williams wheels (I have the older 1600+ g version). I figured they would make great training wheels for the road bike too. Looking around on the web, I couldn't find a bad review, although nothing much for in depth reviews either. Anyways I pulled the trigger. Took about 2 weeks to receive them (Boyd told me 10 business days to ship - sounds about right). Listed at 1204 g, mine weighed 1190 g (+10 g) without skewers or decals (I always peel off the decals and these were easy to peel off).

Fairly decent spin-down after a half-season of cross, eh?

So how are they? Both wheels were built with high spoke tension and were nicely trued. Not the unbelievable laser-beam straightness you see with Reynolds wheels, but very true. Check. The back wheel spun very smoothly in the hand. But the front wheel was very tight and had lots of friction. No Check. Basically, the bearing pre-load was enormous. Someone had really tightened down the nut thingys and I had to give a couple of hex wrenches a fair amount of twist to break them loose. When I took off the preload, the front wheel was better but still didn't spin all that freely. However, after I took it for a two hour ride, it loosened up lots and spins nearly as well as the back wheel. I assume the bearings had to seat themselves in better alignment with the wheel. These wheels don't really have seals, so they spin fairly well - no seal drag. In the hand, they are very smooth. Smoother than my Williams cross wheels which feel a bit rough when spun in the hand. The hubs on the Boyds certainly look more expensive than the Williams hubs. The skewers on the Boyds are definitely strong beasts, but they are pretty heavy too. I ditched them. Boyd needs a titanium skewer option.

The rims are 21 mm wide and have a deep channel. This is ideal for cross and seems to be the way to go these days. It is much better for getting a cross tire on straight than the Williams cross wheels which are only 19 mm wide and have a fairly shallow channel. It also provides a larger gluing surface to better prevent the dreaded tire roll. I had no issues with tire adhesion using my glue, tufo tape, glue method. Put em on and forget em. The wheels also have nice bladed Sapim spokes - no aero issue for cross, but those will be nice for training rides and club races where aero is a good thing. The rims have a nice aero shape, more like a zipp before they got all fat and not like the Reynolds which doesn't look very aero at all. A pleasing shape that looks expensive.

I used these wheels in about 10 cross races (and a couple of 2 hour cross training rides because I just couldn't resist taking them out). They have stood up well to the usual cross pounding. There was a little truing required - a couple of spokes needed a quarter turn on a couple of occasions. Easy to do because they use conventional spoke nipples. The truing was minor and just something I am pretty anal about because I was running the TRP CX9 brakes and they don't have much room for an out of true wheel. I figured the straighter the wheel going into a race, the more it could get knocked out of true without rubbing. But in fact, these wheels took all the hard knocks I dished out, including bottoming the tire against the rim at some point in most races. I also ran the rims through a fair bit of sand and could sometimes hear the brake pads grating on the rim the first corner after the sand. I hate that noise. But the rims only had very minor scratching. I did use the Swissstop yellow brake pads that Boyd thoughfully provides as an option with your wheel purchase and cheaper than you can get them anywhere else. And of course a couple of minor sliding crashes thrown in for good measure had no effect on the wheels.

So what's the verdict? For $800 these are amazing wheels. They are not $2000+ wheels, but they are close enough that its hard to tell, except with your bank account. They are $199 cheaper, 180 g lighter and have Sapim bladed spokes when compared to the Williams 38 carbon wheels which I have never seen in person (or spun their hybrid ceramic bearings). They really are "high performance wheels you can afford" at "marriage saving prices". Based on my cross experience, they are very durable wheels as well (rated for 200 lb riders, I weigh 155) and will be excellent for the road next spring. I like em and just wish I had known about them a couple of years ago. Dang, I have a lot of wheels. Better start selling some.

October 20, 2012 Update - Cross season, road season, another cross season and nothing seems to phase these wheels. I used them for my road training wheels all summer (put on a set of Tufos - they have no inner tube, add sealant and voila! Tubeless tires without that embarassing burping) and at the end of summer I only had to give the back wheel a quarter turn on 2 spokes to true it up again. Then the cross tires went back on and no issues to date. Very happy with these wheels given the low cost. Although they are no longer $800 they are still worth every cent.

January 27, 2013 Update - Boyd has completely revamped their wheel offerings. The new wheels are the new wider profile type. And apparently the hubs are improved. That's the good news. The bad news is the increase in prices - quite a big jump. Still cheaper than the big brands, but not the astonishing value they were before. Takes them out of the range of wheels potentially considered for training. Hope it all works out for them, but I would have kept the old line too for cheapskates like me.

If you hurry, you can cash in on the old style wheels for even cheaper than usual.

November 13, 2011

Heckle Georgia Gould - She's Having Fun With It

This is sorta like the whole Jens thing, but with more fan participation. Some of these are really funny. I'll definitely be reviewing this for next cross season so I can share the mirth. Hmm. Some might work for road....