Monday, 4 July 2011

The highs and lows of Stans No Tubes

After years of punctures I got over the fear of being covered in latex milk (sounds nice actually) and converted to tubeless. Here is a picture of the bottle for your perusal.

The kit costs £49 and includes a nozzle some strange yellow tape to replace your rim tape, two big rubber bands with valves (refered to as rubber bands in this article) and enough tire / tyre? sealant for about 4 tyres with a bit left. 

The instructions in the box are good but assuming you didn't read this from a print out your tech savvy friend gave you, the Stan's website has a really good detailed instructional video that is even better.

The first wheels I did were the GF's she had a fresh set of Stan's Crest rims on Hope Pro 3's bought just before the price hike. 

First step is taking out the existing rim tape and installing the weird yellow rim tape. You can keep the existing rim tape in if want and put the rubber band in over the top if it will fit. No chance with the Crests they are very low profile. Even with the yellow rim tape installed which is extremely thin, the rubber band was difficult to seat in the narrow and shallow rim.

Once in your ready to go with the tyre - you need to use lots of soapy water to seat new tyres on the rubber band, the tyre has to slide over the rubber to get a good seated seal. After bruised fingers and lots of effing and blinding, I got the tyre on - that was the dry run, now the same again with the sealant. 

I thought the sealant would go everywhere, it really doesn't it, just sits in the bottom of the tyre and its quite well behaved there. I had a bit of difficulty getting the tyre (a brand new Schwalbe Nobby Nic) on with without hooking out a bit of rubber band when scooping the tyre over the final bit with a plastic tyre lever.

Once in  I used my track pump - A Joe Blow, to seat the tyre, you might have to fanny around with the tyre around the valve to get the air going in but once I was past that the tyre seated and sealed up to the rim quite quickly. 

From looking on forums this seems to be the bit most people have an issue with, I think the Joe Blow is quite a high volume pump (it's shit for road tyres) so it works well for low pressure high volume tyres and is ideal for getting that initial air in to get the tyre seated on the rim. Now go! go! go! get the tyre up to about 40 psi. The tyre oozes a fine foam where the sealant comes through, this is normal. You then rattle the sealant round as per the instructional video (you will look odd doing this) until its all sealed up.

To be honest it was an emotional journey, the bead on the tyres was so tight and so difficult to get on I left it about a fortnight till I did the conversion on my own bike.

Here are the wheels all done - fascinating, I felt it was a lot of text without a photo.

Now to my wheels: Mavic Crossmax ST's are awesome - I love them. They are light, stiff and they look rad with oversized ali spokes and  they have cool hubs that don't make an annoying noise like a football rattle. They are also UST so no fretting around with the yellow tape that comes with the No Tubes kit. The rims have a deep groove in the middle and as I had been riding the tyres for a while they had probably loosened up a bit either way a combination of the two plus no rubber band required, it was a 15 minute job, no need for a Twix between wheels and a cry on completion. It was much easier. 

Despite the difficulties I had with tubeless on the Crests and the ease of the UST Mavics it has been a worthwhile exercise in both cases, no flats, lighter wheels, better grip and a better ride quality too. You can run lower pressures without bricking it that your going to flat then eaten by midges while you fumble around getting hot and bothered with tyre levers and an awful (but lightweight) mini pump - priceless.

The kit comes with two little stickers. I stuck one on the GFs bike. It looks well factory!

Final thought - an unglamorous but very worthwhile upgrade - recommended. 

Sunday, 3 July 2011

5:10 Greg Minnar Shoe

Here it is!

I got these in the US  they were quite a bit cheaper over there, but thats a different post all together. Over here they retail for £109.99. The shoes are reasonably stiff and despite their skate shoe look they are not that roomy inside and what is termed a 'performance fit' - i.e. snug and responsive - quite a good feel particularly if you are a DH (Greg Minnar) or someone looking for a tough confidence inspiring trail shoe (me). 

I think they are quite a nice looking shoe too, you don't feel too much of tool walking about in them after a ride, they look normal and the cleat is recessed into the sole so they don't click when you walk either. They are reasonably stiff but fairly easy to walk around in so in that regard quite easy to live with.

The main feature and the marquee feature for all 5:10 footwear is the stealth rubber sole. Here it is in all its glory. It really is super grippy even in mud with this tread pattern it seems to perform ok. 

The best thing about this super grippy rubber is that even on regular clipless pedals that I currently have you can still stay on the pedals if you need to dab you foot on a techy trail section or can't get your foot clipped in time. 

This advantage would be even more pronounced if one rode with clipless pedals with a platform such as a Crankbrothers Mallet etc but even with basic Shimano SPDs with no platform this offers a clear advantage on technical ground. Now I try not to spend a lot of time riding with my feet unclipped balancing on the small pedals but it has got me out of a few jams and I would have bailed a number of times had I been unclipped with a more traditional soled race style shoe. 

The sole design doesn't clear mud as well as an open design so that is a trade off if you regularly ride in really gloopy conditions.

The chunky sole offers good protection too, should you ram your clipped in foot into a tree stump or similar, your toes are well protected.


 I conducted an experiment in the Mountain Bike Test Lab to confirm my suspicions about the 5:10 Greg Minnar

They are heavy! 1200g - for a size 8.5 - Thats pretty heavy - If you are putting things into categories (which you shouldn't) that pretty much discounts them for XC use, if you mix your riding up a bit (which you should) you have a great shoe for technical trail riding but one that errs a bit on the portly side.

To summarise:

Good Times
  • Looks nice - conventional skate shoe appearance
  • Easy to walk in
  • Super grippy - good for technical riding
  • Protective
  • Firm fit
  • Durable so far - they appear to exhibit hardly any wear
Bad Times
  • Heavy
  • A bit warm
  • A bit expensive possibly
  • Recess for cleat can get filled with mud in extremely muddy conditions.

Canyon Nerve XC Review - After a couple of months now

It has been a while, I mean't to complete a while ago, sorry if you have been checking back regularly.

The bike is still going well I never got those wider bars. After a couple of outings in the woods in Bristol and near by, I think I can cope with the narrower (680mm) bars for the sake of squeezing through the narrow gaps between the trees - for now anyway.

The kit that comes with the bike is all so decent there is nothing that I have altered on it really, I added a bottle cage, an old specialised rib cage - its a good design, a single stiff plastic loop that holds the bottle firmly and doesn't bend out over time either - mine is about 5 years old and still good, its also really light - Anyway not that exciting an addition - must be getting old, I will be looking at securing a pump and possibly a frame pack in the next few months. Other than that its completely stock which looks dull and I don't have that sense of ownership you get from customising a bike. So Apart from the bottle cage nothing new to add. Tyres still good, slightly narrow bars still on and generally really enjoying have a light bike, especially now its a bit warmer out.

Finally got some pics of my bike in action that my pal took to test out some of his new light rigs. We had battery packs and cables and even an assistant for moral support. I felt very special.

Its hard to tell from this pic but the front is quite low, which is good for hammering flat trails as fast as you can go and the bike really encourages it, in fact it has made me quite an antisocial rider.

As I write this a bundle of newer and even more expensive than the year before bikes have come out that have only served to reinforce my opinion that the bike really is top value. so a few months in no issues to report.

I was whining last time about the cranks getting scuffed. It was one of those niggling things that they scuffed up really quick, I am happy to report their condition has stabilised. I think its a combination of less pedal strikes as I have adjusted my riding style to accommodate the lower BB and I think I have stopped looking at their now scuffed up carbon loveliness. In any case here they are are -

Duffed up and dusty!