Leader of the Pack

Agreed with Slate that this is the best job at the Olympics, and I like eBikes slightly better when they lead the pack at the keiren races.



3T Exploro in Bend

A photo posted by Byron (@bikehugger) on

In case you missed it, the 3T Exploro is in on demo, and I took it with me to Bend, where some of the best biking in the Pacific Northwest is. Yesterday we rode 50 miles and with 700c, 30s on the Exploro. The chipseal in Bend will test any bike’s comfort carbon claims, it’s not the bumps, as the roads are well worn, but the vibration frequency. Bend considers cyclists when repaving their roads, using smaller rocks for lanes. The Forest Services does not, and the conditions degrade the farther you ride into the Deschutes National Forest.

Hhh

I’ve had intolerable chipseal rides in the Bend area; including on carbon and metal bikes. Eager to learn how the Exploro performed, I was not disappointed. That’s because of the Challenge Bianca Strada tires at 80 PSI and the polymer dampening ring inside the seat post head. The tires muted the chipseal frequency just enough, and the seat post took the edge off the bumps. It’s a similar approach to tuning the ride, but more subtle than the Trek Boone that “suspends” the rider at the seat tube cluster with elastomers.

Before the next ride, I’ll switch out the Challenge tire wheelset for 650bs with slicks at even lower pressure and expect to maintain the same pace. That’s because of the Vroomen-engineered aero tubing. As 3T puts it a “40mm knobby cross/gravel tires and 2 water bottles it is faster than the equivalent clean round tube bike is with 28mm slick road tires and without bottles.”

That’s a bold statement and 3T has the wind tunnel numbers to back it up. What I felt so far was the bike slicing through strong headwinds and lift from tailwinds. It’s remarkable to roll a fast tempo on a bike with such big tires, and not have to work so hard….I did not expect to look down and see 18-22 mph on a gravel bike with two bottles, a tool barrel, and camera bag. I wasn’t putting that much pressure into the pedals.

I was going easy, but fast.

Learn more about the Exploro on their site, in issue 37 of our magazine, and on Medium Bicycles.



A Departure From Racing

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It’s happened twice now, locals in big trucks driving around small towns have stopped to talk to me about what I’m riding and…that makes it a bonafide trend at least in Washington and Utah. Like fixie before it, and explained to me and Guitar Day one fateful day 3 years ago at Interbike by Steve Hed,

People start realizing possibilities when bike design departs from racing.

At 2:50 Steve lays it all out….

On a road trip and vacation, don’t have the bandwidth to post across all Bike Hugger channels, if you want to keep up with the riding we’re doing, please follow on Medium and Instagram.



Giant Bicycles: No Longer 27.5 or Bust?

Three years ago Giant Bicycles made big waves when they boldly declared that both 29” and 26” would be replaced as wheel standards for mountainbikes by 27.5”, a standard originally known as 650B. For the 2014 model year they rolled out 27.5” versions of their XC machines, the XTC hardtail and full-suspension Anthem. Of course, whenever the bike industry declares a “new revolution in design” is in progress, it’s always fun to check up on the prediction later (often to be enjoyed with a fine glass of schadenfreude). Now that a three-year product cycle has elapsed, haters might be eager to point out that Giant has backtracked on phasing out 29er”. Yet at the same time, it would be difficult to claim that 27.5” has failed, since the new Anthem and XTC bikes are being marketed as +/29”, meaning that in addition to the typical 29” wheels with 2.0-2.25” wide tyres the frames also can fit 27.5” plus that is, 27.5” wheels with tyres in the wide (but not fatbike wide) 2.8-3.2” range. The idea is that the 29er wheels give the bike a fast XC character while the 27.5”+ give surer grip and gusto in rougher trails conditions while avoiding the heavy wheels and long wheelbase of required of 29 x 3.0” tyres.

This dual wheel concept is the natural byproduct of the decade-long trend towards wider tyres in all virtually all categories of bicycles, facilitated by hub-mounted disc brakes and to a lesser extent new, wider axle/hub standards. Since it is no longer a braking surface, the wheel’s rim diameter is less relevant than the tyre’s overall diameter. A 27.5”+ tyre fits a rim with a 584mm bead set diameter but has an outside dimension approaching that of a 29 x 2.1” on a 622mm rim. That’s a lot of tyre to squeeze between fork blades and chain stays, so many manufacturer’s are taking up the new “Boost” standard for thru-axle hubs, which adds 10mm to front hubs and 6mm to rear hubs. With the cassette pushes further outboard, optimum chainline also moves away from the centerline of the frame, though the distance between the pedals, commonly known as Q-factor, is not necessarily affected.

All these changes have added to the already bewildering number of sku#s for MTB cranksets and hubs (especially if you add in the product catering to fatbikes). Just to point out one more aspect of this trend, the popularity of plus-sized tyres is prompting rim manufacturers to offer wider options. Arguably this is more important for 27.5”+/29er dual wheel concept than for the separate 29er+ niche. Whereas the latter simply seeks to add a bigger footprint to a 29er wheel, the 27.5”+ tyre needs to provide the wider footprint as wheel as closely approximate the overall diameter of a 29 x 2.2” tyre so that the wheels are interchangeable without changing the effective gearing, bottom bracket height, and handling. Thus a 27.5”+ tyre suited for a dual wheel bike like those in Giant’s new lineup may have an especially tall sidewall, that would otherwise collapse under hard cornering if not supported at the bead by a wider rim. Suitable rims have internal widths upwards of 40-45mm, far bigger than the ~21mm that was common up until 2000, or even the 25-30mm of more recent times. Just to complicate things, not all 27.5”+ tyres are being marketed to the 27.5”+/29er dual concept, so some are just short and wide.

The dual wheel setup of the new 2017 Giant MTB lineup has a parallel in the 3T Exploro that Head Bike Hugger Byron is reviewing right now. The Exploro uses the same two rim standard (ISO-584mm and ISO-622mm) but with comparatively skinnier tyres and more pointedly, dropbars. The Exploro is designed to fit 40mm tyres on 700C wheels (to put that in MTB terms, 29 x 1.6”) or 2.25” tyres on 650B (ie 27.5”). Thankfully, the 3T takes conventional compact road cranks and 100x15mm/142x12mm thru-axles, and 650B x 2.25” tyre doesn’t need particularly tall sidewalls to get to the size of a 700C x 40mm.



EXPLORO Late Summer

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The mind blown part of this bike story…. The EXPLORO is basically a Tarmac (a benchmark for road disc) with a few mm in the wheelbase, a half degree in the head tube; and double the tire clearance while offering an aero benefit, and lower weight.

It’ll roll with 650bs or 700cs too.

The keg on the top tube is because I’m all in for road bikes on dirt, but #nobento. No matter the aero benefits.

I was going to write a thoughtful analysis of the Olympic road races, but then the EXPLORO showed up, demanding all my attention, and ride time.



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