Some thoughts on tubeless bike tire tech, and random food for thought.

Tubeless. I know, most people don’t think there’s a debate, but there is. I converted the SX-C2 wheels on my Giant to tubeless using only Stans yellow rim tape. It works fine with the RaRa’s that came on the bike, but the Tioga Psycho Genius and the Conti Mountain King I was running on it won’t seat on those wheels, not even with an air compressor. Having decided after an exhausting and treacherous ride this morning that the WTB Nano I’d been running on the back of the SS was finally toast, I endeavored to mount said Tioga on the Pacenti wheel on the back of the single speed. It was completely drama free. So what’s this with a debate?

I’ve heard people who ride quite a bit, and have a lot to do with bikes say that tubeless is not worth the trouble, it doesn’t work, etc. – and not to try it. I can’t help but think this is complete hog wash. No, those tires didn’t mount to the SX-C2 wheels, but then, Giant doesn’t rate those as tubeless compatible wheels, either. It’s also fairly well known that there are some tire and rim combinations that simply don’t work, even though both may be “Tubeless Compatible” in their own way. The bottom line is, do a little home work, and be prepared to improvise, should the need arise. I don’t run stupid low pressures in my tires, I weigh about 220 with a loaded Camel Back on, and run 30psi in the rear, and 25 in the front. I’ve not had an issue with burping, I haven’t had a flat since I started running tubeless, and the difference that the 2-4 psi less in the tires makes both in ride quality AND traction is noticeable, welcome, and huge.

So, if you’re on the fence, give it a whirl. Tech has come a long way in the past couple of years towards making tubeless better and easier.

Also, your random musical thought for the day: Joe Strummer would have been 61 years old today.

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Trail Updates

It turns out, building trail can keep you very busy. But it’s a rewarding kind of busy. Lets see if I can give you an idea of what’s going down.

Machine built trail starts out looking a lot like hand built trail, except for the machine in the middle of the whole works.

Machine built trail starts out looking a lot like hand built trail, except for the machine in the middle of the whole works.

The local municipal parks and rec department has graciously made land and a machine available for the building of trails. Our local IMBA group worked on the design, and layout started up as soon as everyone was on the same page.

Fresh machine built trail is always a bit messy.

Fresh machine built trail is always a bit messy.

Just because there’s a machine, it’s not all easy work. After cutting the main bench, all the clean up, back blending, and such is hand work. Turning this into what the every day rider recognizes and single track is easier than hand benching, but only by about half.

This is a worst case scenario for cleaning up behind a machine.

This is a worst case scenario for cleaning up behind a machine.

This short drop down into a gully is all the machine can manage. The majority of the digging work is done though, the grade is ridable, and it’s short enough to be sustainable in spite of a higher than normal grade. Unfortunately, finishing this still involves moving a lot of dirt, and cutting all those roots out.

Hard work pays off. This is the finished crossing.

Hard work pays off. This is the finished crossing.

This is the same grade entrance to the gully as pictured above. ┬áHere you can see the trail cut down both banks of the gully for the crossing. Both cuts are protected by structure in the bank (rocks, trees, stumps) against the worst of the current when the water gets up. The bottom of the crossing has since been armored with a rock/clay/sand mixture that shouldn’t wash for a long, long time.

This is the first switchback, built as an in-sloped turn.

This is the first switchback, built as an in-sloped turn.

 

This turn took about an hour for two people to put together after the excavator went through. The trick to getting dirt to sculpt right is the right amount of water. When you have to rely on rain for that water, it can be interesting to get your timing right.

Not all of the trail is being machine built.

Not all of the trail is being machine built.

 

The hand built section above shows two routes, one more XC, one more AM. The problem with the AM side, is that the radius of the dip is very close to the radius of some wheels. Tricky.

Sometimes you just have to pile up a bunch of dirt.

Sometimes you just have to pile up a bunch of dirt.

The trail above seems to be heading straight for a large pile of dirt. In a sense, it is. In what may be the best example of combining machine built and hand built trail, the above pile of dirt was shaped into a nice berm, to get you turned around and going the other direction, shooting you around the …sideways…growing maple tree.

The berm.

The berm.

 

There’s much more to come, and I’ll be quite busy for a while yet. The reward for all this work will be a 5 mile loop through the woods. A loop that should be challenging, fun, rewarding, and hopefully an asset to the community where it’s being built.