Maui Freshly Paved and Curvy

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by Byron on Dec 28, 2014 at 9:53 AM

paved

Freshly paved

While here, posted about the Maui interestingness and this was like finding the Yellow Brick Road with fresh pavement on the Kahekilli Hwy to the Waihee Valley. Kahekilli is part of the annual Boxing Day ride from South Maui Bicycles, and much of the road was previously rough like pave.

There are still some nasty sections, sectors if you will, that’ll test your tires. Once the road got smooth, I was so into it kept riding the curves, and one-lane roads to the Banana Stand on the North side.

curves

Curvy Road Ahead

The riding just keeps getting better in Maui with new pavement, shoulders, and even bike lanes. The curves are like castles in Italy, so many of them they sort of blur together, but an indelible part of the experience.

rough

Here’s a map of the Boxing Day ride and Andrew’s Strava from 2012. The South Maui shop is also hosting a ride on the same route this New Years.

And a short video from Vine of the one-lane road.

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Review: Maxxis Mud Wrestler EXO Tubeless-Ready 700x33

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by Mark V on Dec 27, 2014 at 10:31 AM

Mark V at Waves For Water UCI Cyclocross

I was never that interested in tubeless tyres for cyclocross until I got back into mountain biking. Tubeless tyres are a mature technology in the MTB industry, having proven themselves in competition and recreational use for years. If that’s where cyclocross tyres are headed, then sign me up.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I feel that tubeless-ready CX hasn’t quite reached critical mass. That would be when a broad range of product is available for different conditions and the tyres can be mounted up interchangeably and reliably. It didn’t quite happen this season, but next year I expect that tubeless will grab a lot more presence in the cyclocross scene, if only there were more choices in a dedicated mud tread. If I could only have one tyre to race on all season, I would choose a mud tread even if it meant a little extra rolling resistance in the drier races; a clogged-up tyre in a really sodden race is a wasted opportunity for epic awesome. A wise choice for those days is the Maxxis Mud Wrestler EXO Tubeless-Ready.

Maxxis Mud Wrestler EXO TR 120tpi

Despite all my plans for trying out new equipment at the CX races, I got a late start due to changes at my work place as Davidson Custom Bicycles moved out of its 31 year old location. By the time I had my singlespeed Davidson ready and a free weekend to race, it was MFG Cyclocross’ season ending event at Woodland Park. I lined up on the grid with Michelin Mud2 tyres on my Hed Belgium Plus rims. The Mud2 is a well regarded all-around conditions tyre rather than a pure mud tread, but it was never designed to be run tubeless, though it is one of the more reliable choices for conversions. And unlike the Kenda Happy Medium tyres I had mounted up for central Washinton gravel grinders, the Mud2 were a bit tricky to seat. Seat they did, and they didn’t burp during the race, though the tread was predictably overwhelmed in the muddier sections. The medium depth knobs are spaced a little too close together to shed easily. And overall, I thought them just satisfactory.

That wasn’t my opinion after the next race at Frontier Park. That course was strewn with loose, round pebbles over hardpack, pine needles over packed loam….and apparently some hidden sharp things. I tried to keep my momentum through a stepped chicane by entering the turn shallow, but my front tyre slid off the cambre while simultaneously my rear tyre punctured through the sidewall. End of race. The Mud2 has a very thin, supple sidewall, and I had just demonstrated why tubeless-ready tyres generally are more robust there. The hole was too big for the sealant to plug, and instead the sealant just ran all over my kit as I ran the bike to the pits. Ironically, if I would have been rolling on the Happy Mediums from before I would have had a faster tread for the conditions and a more durable sidewall.

The next race I did was in Gig Harbor which had a couple of deep mud sections and a lot of frozen grass. I hadn’t time to come up with a tubeless solution for my rear wheel, so I grabbed my spare tubular wheel with a medium conditions tread. The course was so bumpy that I ended up l dropping the air pressure to 21-22PSI in search of some suspension effect, though the rolling resistance was tough to muscle. Still dressed with a Mud2, my front wheel slipped on an off-cambre turn, one that I’m sure my knobbier tubular mud tyres could have neatly handled. The problem is that the Mud2 tread just doesn’t have aggressive side-knobs to hold onto those laterally pitched surfaces.

With just five days till the weekend of Waves For Water’s UCI race, there was no time to delay and I wanted something dependable. I actually really liked the Kenda Happy Medium over the summer, but those are basically a file tread with side-knobs, nothing like a mud tyre. Kenda does offer the Kommando Pro, but its tread impressed me as more of medium conditions choice. Their catalogue also lists the newly added Kommando Pro X actually meant for mud, but I as far as I could find no distributor or online retailer actually has it in stock (funny, since the model was shown at Interbike 2013). I did have success with another brand’s tubeless tyre over the summer when I did the High Cascades 100 in Bend OR; that tyre on my Giant XTC 27.5 hardtail was the Ikon EXO by Maxxis.

Previously Maxxis has offered a variety of cyclocross tyres but none of them before as tubeless-ready. In fact, Maxxis CX tyres had been singled out by many as particularly unsuited for tubeless conversions due to the looseness of their bead. If Maxxis now was bringing a tubeless-ready CX model to the party, they would need to make a convincing effort. What they did was adapt the carbon fibre bead already in use with their road and MTB lines and add a tougher, sealant-resistant casing. But what is somewhat surprising is that Maxxis went straight for a mud tread rather than targeting the broadest possible market with an all-around tread. The 700Cx33mm Mud Wrestler EXO now comes in 60TPI and 120TPI tubeless-ready models. The night before Waves For Water, I mounted up a pair of the 120TPI Mud Wrestlers without any drama and the first time I rode them was the half lap I snuck in just before the officials began staging my race. Forty-eight filthy minutes later, I knew I had found a real mud tyre in tubeless.

Nominally 33mm wide, the Mud Wrestler measured 32.7mm on a 25mm wide Hed Belgium Plus (which is as wider than any other rim brake CX rim and as wide as many 29er disc rims), so any elite racer who might potentially race UCI-sanctioned events need not worry about running foul of the UCI maximum tyre width rule. The tread consists of two rows of siped and angled blocks slightly overlapping across the centreline, flanked by large side-knobs. The overall density of knobs is kept open to quickly clear sticky mud, though the overlapping at the centre should provide just enough continuity to prevent the tyre from being a complete dog in rolling resistance. The height and position of the stiff side-knobs are what give it such great cornering, with the knob actually being the widest part of the tyre. There were a few places on the course where the mud was so sloppy that no 33mm tyre was going to pass without some issue, but once past the Maxxis shed the mud instantly. It also handled damp grass and loam with competence. The next day at Steilacoom’s familiar sandy loam and loose-over-hard, the Wrestler was confident and fast. It didn’t feel like I was giving away too much on the long paved straight at the finish line either.

broken safety pin embedded in Mark Vs tyre

On the Monday after the races I discovered a souvenir from my race weekend: a broken safety pin was embedded in my front Wrestler. Not only had I not noticed picking it up, I hadn’t lost any air pressure either. I pulled the pin out and spun the tyre; the sealant plugged the leak with minimal loss of air. With surefooted performance and reassuring durability, I plan to keep the Med Wrestlers on for the duration of the wet season just to have the option riding some muddy trails if the mood strikes me. With more tyre choices like this Maxxis, there are now even fewer barriers preventing both experienced CX racers and newcomers from embracing the tubeless tyres. Perhaps as more riders upgrade their wheels and frames to disc brake compatibility, they’ll take that opportunity to swap to tubeless at the same time, and then tubeless will dominate the cyclocross market.

After so many races at Steilacoom, one must expect leftover safety pins

UPDATE: The Kenda Kommando X Pro finally have arrived, though too late for CX season. All the more reason to get out, get dirty, and give the Kendas some dirt time.

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Maui Miles and Mermaids

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by Byron on Dec 26, 2014 at 11:45 AM

mermaid

Mermaid photo shoot

A couple years ago today, we rode with Axel Merckx and it was like throwing glitter on a climb. Yesterday, I was just riding along and there’s a mermaid photo shoot happening.

driveway

Driveway where a series of unfortunate events happened

Then, last night, in this beach access drive we saw a series of unfortunate events:

Three people staking a Tiki light into the ground while a guitar player strummed in the back of a truck and a sinewy old hippie with a long, white beard polished a 280z. Two steps from that scene, construction workers talked about their jobs and a muscular gymnast posed over his scooter, his butt up with a black thong prominently displayed. Thought he was the fittest woman I’ve ever seen, for a few seconds.

These things happened all in a days vacation and one of the reasons we ride here. So many distractions from the mainland, not limited to rides along the coastline or across a lava field.

ccc

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Merry Xmas from Maui 14

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by Byron on Dec 24, 2014 at 8:22 AM

iiii

As Teresa Edgar said when she posted this photo, “Reindeer are so Overrated.” Also see the animated version.

And ‘till the new year, our (manual) vacation auto responder is on. Interested in Maui? Since we started riding here a decade ago, so many more cyclists are on the roads. See the Maui tag for an archive of posts and maps. Last year, we rode with Tarmacs and ate fish tacos. This year we’re back with our trusty S&S bikes.

Fav spots, beside the beaches, are Twin Falls, and the riding near Haiku

falls

and eating at Maui Flatbread.

falls

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Vacation Auto Responder

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by Byron on Dec 23, 2014 at 2:50 PM

A big storm rolled in and cut short the ride yesterday

Wish some VCs would fund a startup that focused on vacation posting for burned-out bloggers or high-traffic sites. So when you, our audience that I appreciate so much (really!), hit our blog this time of year, the server would return a collection of topical posts like these about S&S bikes.

The program would base the posts on Twitter or Instagram hashtags and keep the momentum going year round, even when I’m away, like a vacation auto-responder. There’s probably a “crowd” angle to that too. Because as much as I love what I do, an occasional break is required. If not instigated by me, my family absolutely demands it.

So I’m pointing the camera away from the bike itself and to where I’m riding and getting shot like this for the next few, relaxed days, with a lot less words.

Huh Clouds

The gear, reviews, and anything remotely epic will start again in the new year.

chicken road

Found a road with no cars

And speaking of Maui, this one time I rode with Axel.

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Found an iPhone and Returned It

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by Byron on Dec 22, 2014 at 9:56 AM

hhh

Found a phone while riding yesterday and returned it to the owner. For fun, left it with a family selfie. The owner tracked it with Find My Phone and eventually called using the app, and I responded.

If you find a iPhone and the screen is locked, press and hold the home button to launch Siri, and then ask her to call “Mom” or “Dad.” Then try like “Brian,” etc.

The owner was gracious and handed me $40.00 in our vacation condo parking lot, and insisted I take it. Later, texted

GREAT selfie!! Thank you so much! Great integrity and extra good karma! Mele kalikimaka!!!

Split $20.00 of the reward with our teens in the holiday spirit and hope they got the message about Karma. Since the iPhone launched, I’ve found and returned two and had two returned to me. I’ll do the same, if I find another phone.

In iOS 8, the Health App will show emergency contact details on the lock screen and also if you ask Siri for ICE (in case of emergency contact). It’s a good idea to add an ICE-designated contact or with apps for the purpose in iOS, Windows, and Droid.

Also for the iPhone, you may want to set the control center to not display on the lock screen. If someone wants to steal or keep your screen-locked phone, they can toggle airplane mode on and the owner can’t track it or remotely wipe it.

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Waiting for the Sun to Come Up

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by Byron on Dec 21, 2014 at 9:31 AM

Waiting for the sun to come up to build our travel bikes, after the inaugural Delta SEA to OGG flight, responded to a new friend, and her request on Facebook with

Hello Jennifer and thanks for the intro Jeremiah, timing-wise I’m on vacation and have reduced the amount I talk about bikes to a trickle. But see this Wired story. And this post. From there the snowbike tag. Fat bikes are great fun and also significantly improved, since I first started posting about them.

Back on the mainland in the new year, we’ve got a magazine issue dedicated to fatbikes and how, in the industry, a side or personal project will mature into a new category. What’s happening now with Trek and Spesh in the game, is the handling characteristics of each bike vary drastically. None bad, just loose like a tractor, all terrain like a jeep, short and tight with racing geo, or hauling like a semi.

If you’re at a resort or in a town with one like we were in Park City last week, absolutely get out there and try a fatbike. We descended slopes with them.

Now, back to building up the travel bikes, and riding island roads. Not taking about bikes too much, either.

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Trigger Happy Action Cam

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by Byron on Dec 19, 2014 at 1:54 PM


Sharing entirely because it’s not another GoPro edit…competition is good in all things.

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New Music for the New Year: Hey Rosetta

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by Byron on Dec 18, 2014 at 7:28 AM


Ordered new music for the new year from @heyrosetta and as soon as that drops, syncing it to my iPod for some long rides.

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Waiting for Tubeless Cyclocross Options

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by Mark V on Dec 17, 2014 at 12:59 PM

After closing out my cyclocross season at Waves For Water’s UCI event in Tacoma, I’ve had a chance to evaluate my equipment choices from this season. This time around I brought in a second bike, a Davidson D-Plus, that I fitted as a singlespeed (you can read about the design in Issue 19 of our downloadable magazine). All the little details on the bike were spot-on, allowing the components to function at their best, though there were only two significant deviations from my usual parts selection: brakes and tyres. For the moment I still remain faithful to cantilever brakes, but rather than Avid Shorty Ultimates I chose TRP’s RevoX Carbon (to be reviewed in a separate post). The other change from my usual CX equipment was tubeless tyres. With an embarrassingly large personal stable of bikes and kit, I was eager to avoid cluttering my life and draining my finances with yet another single purpose tubular wheelset.

Like a tubular, a tubeless clincher tyre promised to allow low pressure in the CX races without pinch-flatting, yet without the laborious gluing ritual I could change out the treads each week if I so desired. And at the end of the season, the tubeless wheels could be reshod with commuter or gravel tyres, or maybe I leave the tubeless CX tyres on the wheels so I can go play around in the muddy woods this winter, free from the fear of damaging expensive tubular tyres on a casual outing. In contrast, my tubular CX hoops get cleaned and stored in wheelbags where they do nothing but take up space in my closet until next September. But promises are one thing, reality another.

The issue isn’t finding rims that will work in a tubeless setup anymore. A few years ago CX tubeless-ready tyres were built for the rims/wheels engineered to match with road tubeless systems, similar to mtb’s UST standard. This largely limited you to wheel-systems like Shimano. Or you could use Stan’s NoTubes conversion kits on a regular rim, but often that meant a lot of effort and uncertainty to get just the right setup for the rim/tyre combination and avoid burping the tyre at low pressure. Now however there are numerous 700C rims being manufactured for either CX or 29er that mimic the easy-mounting NoTubes rim shape. These rims are often wider than typical “road tubeless” rims, giving a better shape and more support to a CX tyre’s larger casing volume . And thankfully for cantilever holdouts like myself, rims like the Hed Belgium Plus and Velocity A23 allow one to introduce tubeless technology into our race gear without requiring disc brakes and a new frameset and components to match. But all these developments have been slow to become broadly established in the market. The selection of tubeless-ready tyres has yet to catch up, and perhaps the resourcefulness of cyclocross racers and mechanics is actually hurting the cause.

Unlike road tubeless systems, which require much more precision in design and manufacturing due to the far greater air pressure used, CX tubeless use has largely evolved out of individuals experimenting with their own equipment. Like MTB, cyclocrossers were converting existing equipment to tubeless by any means necessary in the beginning.

Step 1: buy a NoTubes kit with tape.

Step 2: mount some clincher tyre with sealant and see if holds air.

Step 3: unmount and add more tape, repeat Step 2.

Step 4: go out and ride. If tyre burps, walk home and repeat Step 2

Step 5: replace tyre with a different model, repeat Step 4

Step 6: burp tyre in a race; receive condescending look from guys running tubulars, repeat step 4

Why would tyre companies use their resources to develop competent tubeless CX when the racers seem willing to tolerate all manner of kludges? The big brands continue to sell their standard clincher tyres; if you want to run them tubeless, that’s not their problem. The packaging clearly states that using sealant voids the tyre’s warrantee.

To be fair, I don’t really think that the industry is nefariously holding back properly engineered product, but they certainly go where the money is. A number of companies have finally started offering tubeless-ready cyclocross tyres, but only in a decidedly medium conditions variety, and by “medium conditions” I mean “for frequent use on pavement or gravel”. The whole gravel grinder trend blew up just this past season, yet several tyre manufacturers are diving into 40mm plus tubeless ready gravel tyres. Where are the dedicated mud tyres? Maybe you don’t need them for racing in California, but mud is the default for CX racing in New England and the PacNW. The big companies bank on OEM sales and hot new trends like the gravel grinder category when they develop clincher tyres.

Besides, everyone knows that the real racers inevitably choose tubulars when they get serious, right? The smaller companies, like Challenge and Dugast, that specialize in tubular cyclocross tyres make an effort to offer treads optimized for specific conditions, even different types of mud. With the cost of quality race wheels and tubulars multiplied by the number of potential race conditions, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that trying to always have the right setup for the races quickly spirals into a money-sucking vortex.

What racers need are tubeless-ready tyres that don’t burp even at pressures below 25PSI, that mount easily without relying on luck and a heroic air-compressor, and come in a variety of tread types for actual cyclocross racing. It almost happened this year. Maxxis introduced their Mud Wrestler in 60tpi and 120tpi tubeless-ready versions, but not that many distributors were actually carrying them before the end of the season. Kenda, who make a very nice dry conditions/gravel tyre in the Happy Medium, showed a more mud-oriented version of their Kommando, called the Kommando X Pro, at Interbike 2013, but none of the distributors even have a sku# for them yet. However Hutchinson, an early proponent of tubeless CX, are on their third generation of tyres, and their Toro CX has been available for a season or so.

On the other hand, Michelin was a partner in developing the UST tubeless standard for mountain bikes, but they have made no effort in recent years to develop their cyclocross lineup in anyway, let alone introduce tubeless-ready versions. Specialty tyre maker Clement has expressed a desire to offer tubeless CX ever since the brand re-entered the market a few years ago, but that has yet to lead to anything. I know people who would kill to have their PDX tread in a fully tubeless-ready casing.

Next year I think that tubeless CX options will finally catch up, and in the very least I have found a tubeless setup that meets my requirements. More next time.

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