Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Face, meet bridge.

Bridge, meet face.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bontrager Tire Information- An XC racer view.

I have had a bunch of questions on the new tire line up from Bontrager that is available. Mostly, people are asking what they might consider running in certain conditions and what to consider packing along to races and rides this season.
In an attempt to help with this, here are some recommendations: Section 1 below has a breakdown of tire usage by condition, it attempts to make sense of what a tires intended purpose is. In the section 2 at the bottom, I offer a summary of what sets of tires to buy and run based on: how many tires you are thinking of getting and under what conditions to run those tire choices.

With all of this I try to adhere to a few basic rules:
Always pick a tire with a bit heavier tread and sidewall protection than you think you might get away with.
Always run either the same tread pattern front and back, or run more tread on the front than the back.

I base it also on the absence of the Bontrager XDX's and Jones ACX that we are used to having on the bikes, as indeed, it appears Bontrager may be phasing those out. (From what I can figure out, the XDX in the 29er lineup has been replaced with the 29-3 and with the still not released 29-2. The XDX in the 26er world has not really been filled yet, the XR2 is pretty close from a traction standpoint, but I think the XR3 conspicuously missing from the lineup will be the real niche filler if/when they release it. The ACX is being replaced with the XR-4 and 29-4 tires in the two wheels sizes.)

Section 1

Smoother dry course with good flowing corners and such:
26 inch wheels:
Bontrager XR0
Bontrager XR1
Bontrager XR2 Tubeless

29 inch wheels
Bontrager 29-0
XR1 29er

The 29-0 and XR0 and XR1's are not tubeless rated or advertised tires. They have a fairly light weight side wall system that gives good casing compliance and tends to fold out of the way when rocks are encountered rather than slice through like a stiffer side wall may. As such, they are also kind of porous when it comes to getting them to seal tubeless if you try to set them up that way. The beads are actually fairly solid, so that aspect seems to hold in a tubeless setup. If you do decide to try them tubeless, consider using both Stan's and Superjuice to get a good setup. The latex based Stan's tend to create a good "permanent seal" to the sidewall porosity as the Superjuice particles clog them. But keep in mind, THEY ARE NOT MANUFACTURER RECOMMENDED FOR TUBELESS USE.
The XR-2's I have only seen at the dealer show and was very, very impressed with. It is a good cross over tire between lower rolling resistance and adequate traction for most Virginia/Maryland/NC style courses. I have a pair of these arriving this week that I may brave using at the Warrior Creek 6 hour if conditions allow. It appears to be a step up from the XDX in power and braking traction, I will be curious to see how it holds for cornering traction against the older XDX, I am thinking it will be superior in that realm as well.

Smoother course with sharp corners or slightly loose leaf litter or courses with more rocks and loose terrain:

26inch Front
Bontrager XR4
26 inch Rear
Bontrager Revolt
Bontrager FR3

29 inch Front
29-3 29 x 2.1 inch version it is the one with the angled linear knobs in the picture (note here: Bontrager rates the 29-3s as a dual position tire (front or back) it is apparent though that the 2.0 version may be a better rear tire than front, and vice versa for the 2.1's)

29 inch rear
29-3 29 x 2.0 inch version it is the one with the horizontal knobs in the picture.
FR-3 29er

All of these tires in this category are tubeless ready.
The XR4 and 29-4 are dream tires on the front. Good angled knobs with some taper to them, they tend to shed mud and dirt really well and hook up in a predator-supernatural kinda way. The sidewall casing are solid and seem to hold up really well also. In really muddy or loose conditions, they would also be awesome on the back of the bike.

The FR3's are a Free Ride style tire, super solid sidewalls and thicker tread durometer means they can take big hits from rocks and such and keep going. The center bead on them is intended to offer low rolling resistance when on solid surfaces, and when setup tubeless the tread on the sides will press into the ground on softer surfaces. I recommend the FR3's for when there are rocks or when there are periods of significantly alternating conditions Loose rocks, mud, to pavement and back again.
The Revolt and 29-3 29 x2.0 are really only rear tires in my mind, and I am not sure I would recommend either for super sharp rocky conditions. The Revolt would do OK with that if you were cautious, as it has a wider tread surface than the side walls, so effectively, the tread helps to shield the sidewalls from rocks. the 29-3 appears to be a really great tire for loose conditions, or for when the terrain is roots and such, but I would be very cautious on rocks with it.

Muddy Stuff:
26 inch
Bontrager XR4

29 inch
Mud X TLR 29

This past weekend at the BRS, I ran a 26x2.0" MudX on the back and an FR4 26 x 2.2" on the front. I was surprised with how well they both hooked up the entire time.

Section 2

So, to try and boil it down, what should I buy, and when should I run it?

If you are looking at getting 2 tires for all conditions: (budgeted minded approach, this will leave you over gunned in some conditions though)
26" crowd
Bontrager XR4 and Bontrager XR2 Tubeless

29" Crowd
29-4 front and either a FR-3 29er or 29-3 29 x 2.0 inch version for the rear.
when deciding between the FR3 or 29-3 look at what you ride the most. If rocky stuff, get the FR-3, if smoother stuff, go with the 29-3

If you are looking at getting 3 tires to cover conditions: (offers the additional option of having a lower rolling resistance pair of tires for when the terrain is smoother or dry)
26" crowd
Bontrager XR2 Tubeless Pair (front and rear) and and Bontrager XR4 to put on the front when things get looser
29" crowd
29-3 29 x 2.0 inch version, 29-3 29 x 2.1 inch version and 29-4 front for when things get looser on the course

If you are looking at getting 4 tires: Effectively gives you three viable alternatives to run: 1- smooth, dry, and fast; 2-Tacky, loamy, fast; and 3- technical, loose, challenging terrain.

A Bontrager XR4 Bontrager XR1, Bontrager XR2 Tubeless, and a Bontrager Revolt
You run the XR1 rear and XR2 front for a very low rolling resistance setup on a super fast dry course.
The Revolt Rear and XR2 front for a low rolling resistance setup on a tacky or slightly loose course.
You run the XR2 rear and the XR4 front for a moderate rolling resistance setup on a looser or more technically challenging course.

29 inch
29-4, 29-3 29 x 2.1 inch version, (29-3 29 x 2.0 inch version or FR-3 29er), and an XR1 29er
This gives you a similar set of options as the 26 setup above
XR1 rear with 29-3x2.1 front for very low rolling resistance setup on a super fast dry course.
(29-3 x 2.0 version rear or FR-3) with the 29-3 2.1 front for a low rolling resistance setup on a tacky or slightly loose course.
(29-3 x 2.0 version rear or FR-3) with the 29-4 for a moderate rolling resistance setup on a looser or more technically challenging course.

if you have the cash, consider adding a Mud-X or additional XR4 or 29-4 for the rear to any of the above and I think you can cover 90% of all course conditions that we will ride, you would match it with the XR4 or 29-4 already in the sets.

When selecting tires, they also come in an "Expert" version and "Team Issue" version. In general the team version has a higher thread count sidewall and is a lighter weight tire. Durability and tire function should be similar between the two though.

I hope this helps and makes some sense of the Bontrager Tire line to you all. If there are any lingering questions, please send them my way and I will see what I can come up with.



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If your forks air spring side looks like this, it is past due for an overhaul!

This is from a Manitou Nixon I am working on this morning. Lots of sludge in here like the exxon valdez visited.
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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Junior League.

BFR is helping out today at a 'healthy lifestyles' thing for the junior league. Luckily, Dave found a ride to the event.
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ride the Ridge

Brownie crits are back, Tue/Th worlds have returned, Ride the Ridge MTB race on Sunday at BRS, and sunshine, sunshine, sunshine: Earlysville is the new California. Maybe someone will seize the opportunity and put a taco stand in Earlysville where the market used to be. Maybe have a truing stand out front, self-service style. Sell some surfboards. Not require shirt or shoes.

Or, more realistically, maybe we can just go one more year without a crazy redneck in a Chevy running a cyclist down on Earlysville Rd. I'd take that.

But let's focus. Ride the Ridge. Sunday. Online registration ends at 8 AM Friday morning, for some reason, so get your act together and get on the roster. $20, racers. It's cheap, gnarly, and purely for the glory - like your mom. Get excited about that.

Lots of bad air being spouted on the interwebs these days about health care reform. What's right, what's wrong, who should pay for it, blah blah blah. It's a very big deal. I had an idea about the state of free speech on the internet as it relates to Health Care reform, here goes:

Before you are allowed to post/tweet/instant message/flame/spout off something narcissistic/ crude/intolerant/hateful/narrow-minded or otherwise harsh on your facebook account/blog/Wiki/Voicemail/ Twitter/email or other public forum, you must first go to Blue Ridge School and ride a lap on the Ride The Ridge course. The whole thing, including bearhole, not just the short course. Then and only then will you be permitted to notify the world publicly (and yet safely veiled by the secrecy of the internet) of what the hell you think America and Americans need. This preemptive action will, by itself, solve the health care crisis; we'll have a fitter, happier, slightly bloodier, singletrack buzzed populace that no longer really needs or cares about health care (although they might need a stitch or two) but could go for a dip in the lake and a cold beer.

That's all I get, though. One thought. Hopefully by Sunday afternoon I'll have three more if all goes well, but until then I'll practice what I preach.

Let's move on.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another night of fast at the teventrails, another brownie reward, another day of pleasantly sore. Here's how the numbers came out.

Monday, March 22, 2010

What fast looks like

Saturday highlights, and sadly, not a single picture:

1) Meeting up with Ken Tank and FOBFR, Steve Tolley, for a 75 mile tour of all the Williamsburg local goods.
2) Watching Ken Tank push through 85 degree temps and lose 10 pounds over the course of the 7 hour ride.
3) Getting home, Ken Tank being violently ill, but hearkening back to his fraternity days and pulling the puke-and-rally card in order to make a haggard, 3-glass of water and 2 ginger-ale appearance at dinner before passing out. A rock star performance.

Sunday Highlights, what fast looks like:

1) BFR's own, Eric Moore (or at least his shoe, or maybe that of the guy next to him), zipping out of the camera frame on his way to a 1:26 finish at the Shamrock Half. You'll notice the light polls heading up the boardwalk are all skewed about 15 degrees by the great gravitational vortex being created by that kind of speed.

2) I picked a much hotter runner than Eric to accurately capture. Turns out you have to lead the runner a little with the mighty iphone camera, kind of like shooting skeet. Nice run, Shan.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Things you see and just 'need'

Could this be one of them?

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Redefine: Entertainment

So, as a kid, a ping-pong paddle and fire flies was what we had to carry out our desire for bug death and pseudo sparks.
Kids of today, one step up: You have a bug zapper-fly swatter-tennis racket.
Key words on the packaging, "Envoronmentally friendly unless you are a bug."
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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Virginia Capital Trail near Williamsburg and Jamestown

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Jamestown Island-Black Point

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Double Pinch Flat Party Time

When riding with deep dish rims, you have to have long valve stems on your spare tubes.
This photo is one rim with long stem in place (thanks Grif) and the other rim with standard tube in place (dooh, Shawn you knucklehead!).
Oh well, hopefully I will get the season's worth of flats out of the way now and the tire gods will spare me come racing time.
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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Happy Bikes

After a happy ride!!
Great weather today meant it was time to have at it on the mountain bikes.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Things that do not suck about Spring

A brief pictography of things that do not suck about Spring:

What the snowmelt leaves behind

Cheap Carbs


Love in the air

cutting the grass

serendipitous inspiration

the forecast for the next 7 days...

And lastly, building and restoring rad trails.

May your days be turning brighter and your flowers be bloomin'.

Things that suck about Spring

A brief pictography of things that suck about Spring.
swollen stream crossings

impassable trails

the annual company trip to Vegas; buffets promoted by overeager chicks wielding dangerous silverware.
note the fine print here, "blackout periods may apply." Probably a good t-shirt for Vegas.

litter on the farm singletrack, brought in by 40 mph spring winds. In this case, I'm talking about an entire goddamn kiddie pool. Double suckage points for this one: the "made in canada" emblem on the side of it on the very day after the USA gave the Gold Medal away in OT to Crosby and that bunch of goons.