Specialized Fatboy Tire

My Experience with Specialized Fatboy Tires

Note:  Photos of Specialize Fatboy Tires Below

Specialized bicycles calls their “Fatboy” tire a “Performance Road” tire. At 26×1.25 for 559rims these are a pretty good choice for mountain bikers who want to ride the asphalt. These are a pretty good choice for middle of the road 559 Recumbent trainers.

I’ve ridden these on both my mountain bike and my recumbent. They definitely fill a bit different depending on the type of bicycle you are riding. On the Mountain Bike they feel a bit unstable to me and I’m not that comfortable on them… however on the recumbent they feel just about right and seem to handle better. Probably just my perception as on the Mountain Bike I am much higher in the air and used to wider tires with a lot more grip.

At 390 grams these are fairly light wire bead training tires. The tread is a bit stiff, but inflated at about 85psi they offer a fairly smooth ride… pump them to 100psi and the ride gets noticeably harsher, but they do roll a lot better.

The Fatboy Tire is 60 tpi nylon with Specialized Flak Jacket sub tread. In the 1,300 miles I put on them on the Recumbent I did not encounter a single flat. However in the photos included below you will see I had a pretty bad puncture that extended through the tread. This occurred on the front tire. Fortunately I also had a thin liner in this tire courtesy of the technician who trued my wheel. Saved me a long walk home!

Having ridden several brands of tires in the 26″ size on my mountain bikes over the years I’d say Specialized makes a decent tire for the money. Nothing terribly special about these (pun intended). The tread is a bit hard but rolls well but the casing on the rear tire is beginning to separate. On smooth asphalt barring accident or misfortune you might be able to push these to 2,000 miles. They retail for about $25.

If you have actual experience with these tires please feel free to comment. Please refrain from posting opinions of these tires unless you have experience with them.

They are not the easiest tire to mount, but there is a solution to that which I have also reviewed – Kool Stop Tire Bead Jack

Fatboy Tire on Rim

Specialized Fatboy Tire Mounted on Recumbent Rim

Tread Puncture on Fatboy Tire

Puncture Failure in Tread (Sharp Rock)

Specialize Fatboy Tire Puncture

View of Puncture from Inside Tire

Sidewall separation on Fatboy Tire

Sidewall Separation on Fatboy Tire

Continental Race 650 Bicycle Tubes

Continental Race 650 Bicycle Tubes

I’ve been running these on my recumbent 559 under by Fatboys.  I love them!  They are about half the weight of the Hutchison tubes they replaced.  The Race 650’s are 26×1 and will work with 559’s.  I even had them a bit over inflated in the Fatboy’s with no problems.  At 75 grams these are very light tubes in comparison to the alternatives!  You can’t go lighter in this size for 559 at this price!  The other advantage is they are available with 60mm presta valve stems for tall road rims.  I don’t know what else to say about the Continental Bicycle Tubes… they do a great job at low weight and moderate cost.  I paid $7.50 at a local bike shop.  Cheap tubes are in the $4 range, but are much heavier and I would have to use extenders to make them work on my bicycle.  Definitely recommended.

Contiental Race 650 Bicycle Tubes

Race 650 Bicycle Tubes w/60mm Presta Valve Stem

Bionx Electric Assist Wheelset

I am republishing this from Epinions as it is one of the most honest reviews I have come across about the Bionx Electric Conversion Wheel Sets.

To be honest I have considered adding one to my Recumbent to make riding more enjoyable as there are so many hills to climb here. However what has prevented me from taking the leap in addition to the high cost is there have been so few legitimate reviews of the product. I won’t be purchasing one anytime soon after reading this review due to their apparent lack of quality control. I can not imagine riding and having a wheel separate.

The real pros of the Bionx system to me are: low weight compared to no name competition, controller components allowing for “assist” mode instead of throttle acceleration, and ease of installation.

It’s my understanding Bionx is working with TREK to manufacturer 2 models of electric bicycles. Perhaps there is an option to purchase the product through Trek to get better service and warranty in the United States. It’s ridiculous ot have to send a part to Canada to get serviced in order to avoid voiding your warranty. Yes in many areas you can probably find a dealer, but in so many other areas you can not and thus Trek’s Dealer network would be a huge bonus.

For now I’ll keep looking. Too bad because I really like the idea of available electronic assist for pleasure riding and exercise.

————— User Review Below ———————–

Full Review: Bionx PL-350 Electric Bike Motor Kit

Main Review:

I strongly recommend buying this from a local dealer as you may be back several times for replacement parts under warranty.

Before this motor, I was commuting 10 miles to work via bike about once or twice a week, arriving soaking wet, needing to shower and it took about 30 min longer than taking the train (each way). As I aged, it seemed to take longer and longer to get to work (especially if I tried avoid knee pain). It was becoming a chore I did to loose weight and no longer much fun. I was down to twice a week tops (40 miles/ week).

I wanted to regain as much as possible that 1 hour per day as well as make it enjoyable enough to bike every single day and save more money on train fare.

I researched many options, but settled on the Bionx PL 350.

I wanted a solution that would allow me to park on the sidewalk right outside my building in downtown Chicago, which limited me to electric bicycles.

I narrowed it down to an add-on kit because I liked my current bike, even tho it is 20 years old. I felt buying a new bike was a waste of resources. I had spent a fair amount of time and money tweaking the bike to my liking (it is a Schwinn MOB).

Many electric bikes had smaller wheels and I am reluctant to go with smaller wheels because Chicago is not known for silky smooth streets and I have doubts about putting 2,000+ miles/year and a 250 lb load on a small bike.

I could not use a front-wheel kit because a decently powered motor would have simply ripped my front fork apart.

My biggest reason for going with the Bionx was simply its ability to be controlled by pedal power (off when not pedaling, on when pedaling over 3mph). It is exactly like normal biking except I now have “bionic” legs.

I did not want to deal with a toggle switch. In fact, I did not want anything on the handlebars to break if I crash or get stolen or simply malfunction due to exposure.

I also liked that the Bionx was the only motor narrow enough to allow for Disk Brakes (which my next bike would likely have). I chose the 350 because I needed the horsepower to get my 200 pounds and all my bags up to 20mph. From my research, I am pretty sure that a 24v 250hp motor would run out of steam long before I got my bike up to 20mph.

I chose the LiMn battery because much of this biking would be in the cold and I read that NiMH batteries do not perform well in the cold. LiMn also had the added benefit of “the more frequently you rec-charge them, the longer they will last” as opposed to NiMH where you needed to occasionally completely empty the battery in order to prolong its life and I did not want to deal with being in the middle of a ride and run out of battery power every week.

I chose the bag battery because I wanted to save time and hide the fact that I have a motor. It is an Arkel bag and it is a very nice bag (I actually already had that exact same bag). That big box on the frame screams “motor”. I would have to put that white box into a bag anyway in order to take it indoors, so why not have it in the bag all the time? Also, the bag concept allowed me to keep everything, including the controller better protected from vibrations and weather.
I keep the controller inside the bag on my rear rack. Before I start out to ride, I connect the motor to the battery, turn on the controller, set the assistance level to 2, zip up the bag and take off. I have seldom felt a need to see it again until after I arrive. Pushing the cord for the controller connector thru the hole in the front of the bag took a little effort, but was easy enough.

I had no problems installing it myself, and it came assembled in such a manner that the “notch” already was in the down position, so I did not have to fiddle with it.

I disabled the throttle. I tried to buy it without the throttle, but could not.

I never spent the time connecting the “brake to trigger regeneration” as it would be just one more thing to fiddle with. My battery never runs low enough to require the little regeneration it provides. If you had to go down hills a lot however, I can definitely see the benefit of connecting it, no braking required. However, there are not many hills in Chicago.

I DID have trouble finding the correct freewheel however. My bike uses a “compact drive” system where the front sprocket was 42 Teeth and the rear was 11 Teeth. Finding an 11T freewheel was a frustrating research project, until I finally found a vendor who kept them in stock at jvbike.com

My next project was to get a 46T front sproket because I kept wanting a higher gear as I pedaled (with the motor)

I used to spend 4 hours riding 40 miles per week and took any excuse not to ride that day.

Now I spend 6 hours riding 100 miles per week (same level of effort per hour) and hate having to take the train because it means being crowded and waiting and paying.

I used to average 11 to 15 mph.
Now I average 16 to 20 mph.

I used to start riding 1/2 way and taking the train 1/2 the first two times in April and only ride once a week to get my legs and rear end in shape.

Now I start riding the full stretch 5 days a week starting April 1st. I start out on level 4 assistance and in May, I will have worked my way down to level 2 on my way into work (to avoid excessive perspiration) and level 1 on my way back (to compensate for the extra resistance of the motor and extra weight).

I love the fact that I can now get to work 20 minutes faster while still getting the endorphins from exercising without feeling so exhausted that I need to shower and wait a day to recover.

I do wish that Bionx officially supported 3rd party batteries. Their asking price of $1,000 for this battery seems to be highway robbery. However there are sites out there that explain that as long as you buy your first battery from Bionx, you can use their battery controller chip and hook it up to a third party battery. This was another reason for wanting the bag battery as it seemed so much easier to re-wire and fit a 3rd party battery. Preferably a 12ah LiFePO4 battery from eBay.com

For $100 more, nycewheels.com will sell to you a Bionx approved version that has 25mph as the top limit (tho you sacrifice some torque). In some ways, I kinda wish I had that option, however I suspect my aging knees better appreciate that low-end torque assist in getting up to speed.

Be sure you double check that you received all the correct parts. The box we opened at the bike store included the 24 volt battery in the box. Everything else (including the charger) was for the 36 volt kit.

It has a tendancy to not turn off when I stop pedaling but ONLY downtown. I think if you only pedal short distances, the computer gets confused.

The system occasionally freezes up while biking. Basically it just stops helping you while you are pedaling, but works fine after you unplug the controller and plug it back in again.

It can spontaneously turned on while walking astride the bike across the street (no pedaling), but I just hit the brakes to get it under 3mph and the motor turns off.

I am contemplating connecting the regen brakes just to turn off the motor when it does occasionally stay on or turn on when I do not want it to.

I am figuring that counting saved train fares and value towards fitness it easily pays itself off after 3 years (with each 3rd party battery having a 1 year payoff).

The downside is the increased probability of being injured due to riding twice as often and the higher speeds. Last fall, I was doored for the first time after 30 years of using my bike as a primary means of transportation.

In summary, the system has more smarts than any other, but can still use a lot more improvement (most notable quality control with the rim and charger and motor).

It really was my only viable option for keeping my weight down and it is responsible for making me once again really enjoy biking to work every day.

Some useful links:
Here is the Bionx website
http://www.bionx.ca/

These guys seems to sell a lot of kits and I was hoping to avoid our 10% sales tax, however they never responded past my first email, so I just bought it from a local retailer (now I can get local support and I am supporting the local economy)
http://nycewheels.com/bionx-electric-motor.html

My local retailer (great service)
http://villagecyclesport.com/

Besides having in stock an 11T freewheel, JV Bikes also carries a complete range of Bionx parts
http://www.jvbike.com/BionX_Options.htm

I was VERY tempted to get a folding bike at the same time so I can more easily put it into our SUV on the occasions my wife picks me up with 3 kids in the back, but I decided to delay that expense until another time. As long as I get a 26″ folder, I can easily just transfer the wheel (or re-spoke it to a smaller wheel if I cannot find a 26″ folder I want to buy)
http://www.greenspeed.us/bionx_montague_electric_bikes.htm

Here is everything you needed to know about bicycle terminology (which was very helpful to me understanding why the 11T became such an issue… apparently compact drive systems are not well supported in the aftermarket parts world)
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/

Here is a very useful forum for Bionx
http://visforvoltage.org/forums/electricrides/bicyclesandpedelecs/bionx

with links to manuals and codes and such
http://visforvoltage.org/page/technical-help/399-downloadable-manuals-and-diagrams

Here is a site that proclaims itself as “Everything you ever wanted to know about BionX”
http://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=896

Colorado Cyclist Mavic 717 with DT Swiss 240s and Revolution Spokes Wheel Build Review

Mavic 717 DT Swiss 240s Wheel

Mavic 717 DT Swiss 240s Wheel built by Colorado Cyclist

The front rim on my existing wheel was beginning to separate just slightly after only 2000 miles.  This separation was resulting in loud and squeaky brakes.  So I began searching online for custom bicycle wheel builders.  The Mavic 717 with DT Swiss 240s hub was not my first choice.  In fact I originally had the idea that now was the time to switch to 650c wheels as my bike will work fine with either.  The problem with going to 650c wheels would be locking into the 23mm 650c tire options.

So I began investigating tires from a ride comfort and cost standpoint.  I somehow convinced myself that I wanted to run the 650c version of the Continental Grand Prix 4000 with the black chilli compound.  While there are some people who do not like these tires the vast majority of reviews I read online are positive.  Another advantage to running these tires is I could shave 40 to 50 grams off my already lightweight Schwalbe Durano tires which are about 250 grams. I have the folding version at 1.1 and not the wire bead.

So armed with my new desire to own 650c’s I began requesting quotes from Wheel Builders and for some reason I had it in my head that I could do this for about $500.  After all I’m not looking for the absolute best, just good all around wheels for my recreational rides.  What I discovered as I began digging into the wheel options was this was not going to be as easy as I thought.  For starters in this price range for 650c wheels, there are actually very few rim options.  The choices came down to Mavic, Velocity, and one or two others I was not very familiar with.  I convinced myself that the Velocity Aerohead was the way to go because of petty good reviews, and low weight at 390 grams per rim.  I also liked the idea of a rear wheel with an offset rim to increase the strength of the drive side and reduce spoke tension.  To me it just makes sense that a wheel that is dished would be better served with an off center design.

So I had my rim selection made.  They needed to make a decision about hubs.  In the $500 price range you can immediately rule out Chris King and Phil Wood, and DT Swiss 240s’ (Or so I thought with the DT Swiss that I’ll get to in just a bit). This left me with velocity road hubs were Shimano 105’s, possibly last year’s Ultegra, or lesser.  When trying to decide which hubs to select I also needed to consider the weight of the hub.  Velocity road hubs are among the lightest, but I was concerned about the quality of the bearings and how long they will last.  So back to the bike forums I went to read up on velocity hubs.  As it turns out velocity hugs are manufactured by formula a Taiwanese company with a decent reputation.  So so while not completely sold I figure they’re probably good enough for my needs.  The Shimano hubs are quality but almost twice the weight and not sealed cartridges.  There is no problem with Shimano, I just wanted to go a bit lighter for this wheel build as I wanted to keep the rotational mass down for faster accelerations and easier climbing.

So now I needed to do was select the spokes.  Should I run with 28, 32, or 36 spokes. I wanted double butted spokes to increase the strength but again keep the weight down.  I decided to go all in with Sapim CX-Ray because not only are they the lightest and strongest spokes, they are also the most aero dynamic I could choose.

So my decision had been made… Velocity Aerohead, Velocity Road hubs, and Sapim CX-Ray spokes.  All I needed was a Wheel builder.  I found a great one in Epic Wheel Works in Portland Oregon… good price, good reputation.  Unfortunately even with my mid-range selections by the time I purchased new tires, and had the wheels built and shipped I would be over $600.  And that just isn’t in the budget right now.

So I needed another option.  I considered the Bicycle Wheel Warehouse stock build with Mavic Open Road, Last Years Ultegra Hubs, and DT Swiss double butted spokes.  Good price at $300 plus tax and shipping with upgraded spokes. The problem is I was just not convinced I wanted extra 250 grams of weight.  So I shot off an email to Bicycle Wheel Warehouse with a couple of basic questions waiting to hear back and deciding yes at this price maybe I’ll just do it.  But I never heard back and that led me to more searching and that led me to Colorado Cyclist.

And as I was viewing their Wheel Builds I was surprised to see they are using the DT 240s hubs in their 559 mountain bike wheels at a price which most other online bike retailers are selling just the 240s hubs.  And the price was just too good for me to pass up on based on my needs and the fact that I really only need to replace the front wheel.  So I decided to stick with the mountain bike sized tires and wheels.

So I called up Colorado Cyclist and talk to their customer service sales department and I ordered the wheel with the Mavic 717 in black, DT Swiss 240s, and DT Swiss Revolution double butted spokes.  The entire cost including build and shipping was almost dead on $225.  Again most places are almost that much just for the DT Swiss 240s hub.  So all I can assume is Colorado Cyclist is is selling so much DT Swiss that they’re getting excellent volume pricing which allows them to build at this price point.  In any case I’m very happy with the purchase.

Now on to the Review of the Mavic 717, DT Swiss 240s wheel Colorado Cyclist built for me.

As soon as I received the wheel I pop my old mountain bike upside down and dropped the wheel in the front fork.  I gave the wheel a good hard spin and and checked for true against the brake pads.  The true of the will was spot on I could hardly detect even perhaps a 1 mm at the most lateral play and it doesn’t even look like that much.  The next thing I did was look for the round true, so again I spun the wheel and the will is extremely close to being perfectly round.  Mavic has a reputation for shipping pretty true rims that are fairly easy to build.  The final thing I did was slightly tweak each of the spokes with my finger now see if they sounded the same and they did.  Because I don’t have a spoke tension tool I can’t major the tension.  Because the sound of each spoke is about the same I can assume the tension is pretty equal across the wheel.  All in all this is a very nice we’ll build at a very good price and if it fits your budget you should definitely consider Colorado Cyclist.

Note:  I had no prior relationship with Colorado Cyclist, and I am not being compensated for this review.

Schwalbe Kojak Tires – Kojak HS 385 – 35 559 1.26 x 1.3 Folding

11600045  35-559 26 x 1.35 RaceGuard Black-Skin SpeedGrip 55-95 295g 67 90 kg 12A $54.45 Out

Out Out Out.

Nice tires if you could actually buy them.  Nobody has them.  So what exactly is the point in raving about a tire you can not purchase?

Schwalbe does this all the time it seems.  They for some reason can not keep up with Production of the tires their customers actually want.  And they seem to pay ZERO attention to the needs/wants of their customers. Crazy business model.

Examples:

Reading the user comments on their site there are several 451 please requests.

====================

Tire Availability

Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 19/11/2008 – 9:27am.

When will the new folding tire sizes be available for purchase? I am specifically looking for the 50-559 folding.

Editors Note:  See the date this was submitted?  Nothing has changed.

====================

Folding 559 discontinued?
Submitted by Schwalbe.Support on Thu, 23/10/2008 – 8:57am.

35-559 and 50-559 folding sizes are NOT discontinued.

Team Schwalbe

Editors Note:  Nice that they are not discontinued but you still can’t find anyone selling them.

====================

I did find them at StarBikes in France… not sure if they are really in stock, but not very promising.  Pretty expensive shipping to get them to the USA.  I should point out that there are a few other places I found the Wire Bead model in stock, but what is the point in running the extra weight if you don’t have to… and I don’t have to.

Schwalbe makes a decent product, but if you can’t buy them then what’s the point?

Walz Caps Cycling Cap Review

Walz Caps is an American Manufacturer of quality cycling caps. Yes they are not only an American Company, but they actually make them right here in the United States by hand!Walz Caps are 100% USA quality. I just hope that material is made here too 🙂 That for me is a refreshing change, as I like to buy American and show support for American Business.

Walz Cycling Cap

Walz Cap – Moisture Wicking Plain White 4 Panel

White Walz Cycling Cap

Inside view of Walz Cycling Cap

I’ve not worn cycling caps in the past because I’ve always worn a helmet and it includes a small visor which in combination with my Rudy Project Sun Glasses does a nice job of keeping the sun out of my eyes. However I recently discovered bike paths which are flat and comfortable and greatly reduce the chances of my crashing (at least I hope). When I ride on the bicycle paths I don’t like to wear a helmet, but I appreciate the added visibility a visor ads to the experience. I also went on a ride recently during mid day and managed to get a nice burn across the top of my forehead. So I decided it was time to find a cycling hat/cap that would serve the sun blocking purpose the helmet provides when I ride on city streets.

For someone who has not worn a cycling cap before, and someone who actually prefers not to wear hats at all I had to do a little research. So I began looking at various cycling sites and reviews of cycling caps and came across Walz Caps. The reviews were overwhelmingly positive, and the Walz Caps website is clean and well constructed so I thought I might as well give them a shot.

So I shot off an email with a couple of questions and Walz responded by the next day. I thought – wow – that’s pretty good service. Unfortunately they never responded at all to my follow up email. My questions were the same type of questions one might expect – what is the best choice for keeping my head cool in the hot sun, and what are my options for adjustment, whats the difference between a 3 and a 4 panel design, etc. Again I’m not a hat/cap person and I hate anything tight on my head so I thought I’d find out before I made my purchase.

I’m a bit tired right now as I write this so I’ll cut to the chase and tell you why I chose Walz

Pros of the Walz Cycling Caps

  • American Made
  • Decent Pricing – $14.99 including shipping
  • Quality Stitching
  • Decent Shipping time (4 Days from Order to Arrival)

Cons of the Walz Cycling Caps

  • Doesn’t fit my head that great (only 2 size options)
  • Not adjustable… it either fits and you like it or it doesn’t and you don’t

Just like sunglasses… or men’s suits some people can buy “off the rack” and the fit is just fine, others like myself seldom find that off the rack is very comfortable.  The moisture wicking cap I purchased is just a bit too tight on my head, but maybe it will stretch out some.  And I purchased the large/extra large (the other option being small/medium).  This is not really a slight against Walz, most manufacturers only make a one size fits all cap.  So Walz is better in that regard.  But even so it still doesn’t quite fit me correctly for the comfort I want when riding.  I don’t want to even know it’s on.  I’ll probably try to find a nice adjustable visor and see how that works for me.  I have a collection of baseball caps with adjustable straps and some of those fit really well, and some like this cap not so well.

I’ll still wear my Walz Cap and make due until I find something I like better.  One nice plus about cycling caps if you have not worn one is you can put them under your helmet as a head warmer (Walz makes a model with ear flaps) or supposedly take advantage of the moisture wicking capability to help keep you cooler.

In summary if I were rating the model I purchased – Large/Extra Large plain white 100% moisture wicking cycling cap I would give it 4/5 stars.  I think most people will like it for what it is and I certainly can not fault the quality of the stitching and construction which is top notch. If you want a quality American Made cycling Cap then Walz might not only be your best option, it might be your only option!

Continental Sport Contact Tire Review

Complete review of my new Continental Sport Contact Tires.  A lot of people who ride recumbent bicycles are choosing to ride 559 road slicks.  The options for quality road slicks in 559 that are lightweight, durable, and provide quality puncture protection are pretty limited.  The Continental Sport Contact 559 x32 which I will be reviewing here is one of those options.  I’ve ridden the Specialize Fatboy and the Schwalbe Durano 1 1/8th folding tires and now I’m going to be riding the Continental Sport Contacts in the 32mm 1.3 size.

I had hoped to find a pair of Schwalbe Kojak folding tires in the same size to review but not only could I not find a pair I couldn’t find anything near the price of the Continental Sport Contacts.  Last year I purchased the Schwalbe Durano tires for review (You’ll find them here in the review section) for about $42 each if I recall correctly plus shipping.  The Kojaks in the folding version run $50+ each plus shipping.

Because I didn’t want to wait I went ahead and bought them from a sporting supply place online… and it was kind of a mistake.  While the pricing was good at $58 including shipping, the wait was dismal (10 days to ship one State!).  In 2009 Continental was shipping these tires with free tubes… I don’t know if this is a promotion or is ongoing, but I didn’t get any free tubes with my Sport Contacts.    Well I saved a few dollars but I didn’t get the tires in any faster.  The Sport Contacts I received were made in India, I do not know if there is a Taiwanese Version or a German Version.  I would definitely prefer a German Made tire if possible.  There is a slight glitch in one of the sidewalls of one of the 2 tires I purchased, and I’m hoping it doesn’t turn into a blowout down the road.

Before I write a bunch more of this and that about these tires I’d like to post a bunch of photos for people who like me can appreciate the value of images as much as the value of text in an article.  The review will continue after the photos.

Continental Sport Contact Tire Review Photos

Click any picture to see a larger size.

Continental Sport contact Front Tire

Continental Sport contact Front Tire

Continental Sport contact Front Tire on Bike

Continental Sport contact Front Tire on Bike

Continental Sport contact Rear Tire

Continental Sport contact Rear Tire

Continental Sport contact Rear Tire on Bike

Continental Sport contact Rear Tire on Bike

Continental Sport Contact Compared to Specialized Fatboy

Continental Sport Contact Compared to Specialized Fatboy

Continental Sport Contact Label

Continental Sport Contact Label

Sport Contact Tread Pattern

Sport Contact Tread Pattern

Inside the Sport Contact Bicycle Tire

Inside the Sport Contact Bicycle Tire

Back on point.  I also considered the Ritchey Tom Slick and the Panaracer T-Serv.  But after all the reviews I read of the Sport Contacts I am convinced (at least for now) they are the way to go.

Mounting the Conti Sport Contacts

The rubber on the Sport Contacts feels a bit more sticky and a whole lot more pliable than the Fatboy’s.  It’s also thicker on the sidewall than the Fatboy’s.  In comparison to the Durano tires (keeping in mind I have the folding version) the tread fills a bit thicker and the side walls about the same.  Both the Schwalbe and the Conti feel like a higher quality tire when you have them in your hands.  And they should be as they both cost a lot more than the Fatboy tires.

Mounting the Conti Sport Contact to the front wheel (Mavic 717) went pretty smoothly.  I was able to mount the front tire with just my fingers and thumbs.  It was a bit stiff but not overly difficult.  The back tires was a bit more difficult as the Deep V Rim (I have no idea if this is a Velocity Rim or not) was just harder for me to mount.  Fortunately I have a Tire Bead Jack (See other reviews here on the site) which made it much easier.  I wouldn’t want to have to change flats on either wheel on the road however.  I was running a tire liner under the front of the Durano but I am choosing not to use it on the Sport Contact.  My hope is without the tire liner the lower rotational mass will make climbing a bit easier (The Sport Contact is heavier than the Durano, but lighter sans the liner).  The rear wheel on my bike I desperately want to replace as it’s built like a tank with 14 gauge 36 hole spokes on a Deep V with a Shimano 105 hub.  The think must weigh 5 lbs.  I’m hoping when the budget allows to replace it with a DT Swiss 240, and a Synergy Offset with Sapim CX-Ray spokes.  I’ve been very happy with the Mavic 717, DT Swiss 240, DT Swiss Revolution front wheel I had built.  The new front wheel has kind of spoiled me!

So why did I buy the Continental Sport Contact Bike Tires?

I like to write reviews – real reviews based on my own “hands on” experiences.  To me there is nothing worse that finding a “Review” that is nothing more than a rehash of a press release or a blurb about a product that is based on no real world experience with that product.  I find those “reviews” all over the internet and usually written by people who know little to nothing about the product they are supposedly reviewing.  You may not agree with my assessments about products I review, but at least they are the real deal.

I chose the Conti Sport Contacts in the 559 x32mm size because they fit my bike.  I’m not sure the additional height and weight of a 1.6 would work on my bike.  I’ve run Fatboys which are 1.25 with no problems (No Brake or Fork Rubbing) so I was sure these would work.  As you can see in the pictures I’ve included a comparison of a nearly new Fatboy.  I read good and bad about the Tom Slick, but I’m not a huge fan of Ritchey because they are more of a design house that outsources everything to someone else.   But with these Conti’s being made in India who knows… maybe the Tom Slicks are made by the same people on another line?  But given the choice I go with the OEM whenever possible.  I also read some less than flattering reviews of the Tom Slicks to go along with the good reviews.  I really didn’t find anyone saying anything bad about the Sport Contacts.  I’ve also run the GEAX Street runners in the past and loved everything about the way they ride and absolutely hated changing out the flats every 5 miles.  The Sport Contacts are supposed to be pretty flat resistant.

My Schwalbe Durano’s have been really good tires.  They have about 1,000 miles on them and look hardly worse for the wear… seriously they almost look brand new.  At 900 miles my Specialized Fatboys were literally coming apart at the seams and small chunks of tread had come apart.  I got 1,200 out of the Fatboy’s but the last 300 miles I was sweating a blowout. And while Fatboy’s have good rolling resistance and are decent in the weight category they are a rough riding tire in my opinion.  My Durano tires on the other hand are a decent riding tire at recommended mid range pressure, but a bit doggy if not inflated to full max 8 bar.  They perform well at full PSI but slow down as PSI drops.  The problem with full PSI (8 bar 115 PSI) in the 1.1 folding I was running is they tend to transmit a lot of road “noise” to my spine.  By this I mean they ride rougher, but faster when fully inflated.

Again I thought the Kojak in the 1.3 folding would be the answer.  But no luck finding them, and they are so damn expensive.  The Kojak 1.3 wire bead is very reasonable, but also hard to find at times.  The wire bead Kojak is actually heavier than the wire bead Sport Contact.  If I were not so tired right now I’d look up the exact weights.  The folding Kojak is lighter than the Conti Sport Contact of the same size.

  • Schwalbe Kojak 1.35 Folding (559 35) – 295 grams
  • Schwalbe Kojak 1.35 Wire (559 35) – 395 grams
  • Continental Sport Contact (559 32) Wire – 350 grams

At least that is what was published on their respective sites as I recall.  The Schwalbe is 3mm wider as well, but that means little to me.  The compounds and construction are different so the only real way to tell is to just ride them and decide if you like them or not.  My hope is the Conti will ride smoother than my Durano tires and provide me with much more road comfort.  I understand the rolling resistance is supposed to be very good. But when you are reading reviews on Mountain Bike sites you have to take them with a grain of salt.  Most mountain bikers going from knobbies to slicks are going to say they roll good no matter what.  As you know the recumbent is a different beast!

Continental Sport Contact Ride Report

I just completed my first ride on the Sport Contact tires and fortunately I am very happy with the performance.  The roll equally if not better than the Durano tires I replaced.  The rubber compound is a bit stickier and hopefully this trait will carry through out it’s useful life.  I doubt they will last as long as the Durano tires which show almost no wear as mentioned above.  The asphalt here where I’m riding on the sides of the roads is extremely course and the Sport Contact tires smoothed that out by at least 50%!  This is likely due not only to the more supple construction, but the increased air volume and lower tire pressure.  I ran them on my first ride at exactly 6 bar (85 psi) maximum recommended inflation.  These tires are also a lot more forgiving on the spine than the Specialized Fatboy tires.  They are 50 grams lighter than the wired Kojaks (which are just slightly wider my a mm or two).  I think I’ve found the tires I’ll be riding from here on out unless the Kojak folding tires somehow magically drop $40 off the price of a pair or the Sport Contact tires become available in a folding version.

I should also note that I have a lot more confidence on these tires a I lean into turns.  There is minimal but present sidewall tread which combined with the type of rubber and additional width at lower pressure which are no doubt to account for the increased sense of handling.  On the Durano tires I crashed a couple of times at slow speed when the backend would slip out from under me during light braking or even acceleration in any debris, dirt, or loose material.  I also crashed on the fatboy tires when I got caught in a surprise thunderstorm.    Slicks, water, and my bicycle don’t make a pretty combination.

Happy riding, if you’re on the fence about slicks try the Sport Contact – very nice ride for the size and price, in fact I doubt you’ll find better.  If you’re wealthy then go ahead and try the folding Kojak.

I’ll revisit this review after I have close to a 1,000 miles so I can comment on the durability.

Performance Bike Alta Long Sleve Cycling Jersey Review

Review of the Performance Alta Long Sleeve Cycling Jersey. Sunburn and riding enjoyment are mutually exclusive.  If like me you are the kind of person that quickly tires of lathering up with sunscreen before each ride then this review is for you.  After a lot of online research I arrived at the Performance Bike “Alta” long sleeve Jersey in all white.  While it’s not much to look at the people who have purchased this item had a lot of good things to say about it.

Purchased this jersey for long rides in the sun. Works like a charm! Paradoxically, the long sleeves keep me cooler than a short-sleeve jersey, and I only need apply sunscreen to my face, neck, and legs. Liked it so much that I purchased two more of the same jersey. Really the only long-sleeve, hot-weather, UV-protective jersey out there. Price is right, too! Thanks for making this jersey. – Performance Bike Reviewer from DeKalb IL

The above quote comes directly from the Performance Bike online store, and is one of several which convinced me to go this direction. This Jersey while not cheap is very inexpensive compared to the name brand options like Pearl Izumi. For my purposes I just want to block out as much sun as possible from my arms while riding in the heat of the day. Unfortunately in the Desert Southwest the heat of the day in the summer starts about 10am and runs till dark!

Performance Alta Cycling Jersey

Performance Alta Cycling Jersey

 

Lets Talk Jersey Sizing

I am a tweener – between a large and an extra large in most off the shelf products. I always opt for the extra large however to be “safe”. In this case this was a very good decision. I weigh in about 200lbs and the sleeves on this jersey are nice and long extending all the where my riding gloves meet my wrists… and I have long arms! A person with shorter arms would be fine too as the fabric is very light and would just bunch up a bit. The person who is not going to be happy with this Cycling Jersey is the person who is overly muscular. It seems like everything in the cycling world is built for a person who is about 6′ tall and 165lbs. With this Jersey if you have big upper arms and chest it’s going to seem tight to you even in the extra large size. I’d estimate that anyone over 225lbs will want to look for a bigger size or a different brand. Performance does have an XXL version of this Jersey as well. For me this one fits just right which I am very happy about as it’s always a gamble to buy sight unseen online.

Alta Cycling Jersey Front and Back

Alta Cycling Jersey Front and Back

Lets Talk Cycling Jersey Features

Fabric: I’m going to take this directly off the jersey marketing tag. UV protective fabric by UNIFI – “Be sure you’re covered under the sun. Throw clothes made with Mynx UV. Get a high level of dependable, physical protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Because that’s protection you can really use.” Read more… Mynx Cycling Fabric (Opens in new window)

The Performance Alta Long Sleeve Jersey has a UPF rating of 30+

Most of us have heard of SPF (Sun protection Factor), but some of us are less familiar with the term UPF.  This Jersey is UPF 30 and UPF is protection against BOTH UVA (Aging) and UVB (Burning) rays, whereas SPF is only protection against UVB rays.

Here’s more information on SPF

Sun Protection Factor

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. The number is determined experimentally indoors by exposing human subjects to a light spectrum meant to mimic noontime sun. Some subjects wear sunscreen and others do not. The amount of light that induces redness in sunscreen-protected skin, divided by the amount of light that induces redness in unprotected skin is the SPF. It is mainly a measure of UVB protection and ranges from 1 to 45 or above.

A sunscreen with an SPF of 15 filters 92% of the UVB. Put another way, a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 will delay the onset of a sunburn in a person who would otherwise burn in 10 minutes to burn in 150 minutes. The SPF 15 sunscreen allows a person to stay out in the sun 15 times longer.

There is currently no uniform measure of UVA absorption. There are broad-spectrum sunscreens that protect against UVA and UVB radiation although it is important to remember that the SPF does not predict UVA protection – Heather Brannon, MD

Here’s more information on UPF

Ultraviolet Protection Factor

Just like sunscreen, the sun protectiveness of clothing can be evaluated and rated with a measuring system called Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF). UPF is a similar concept to SPF; however, UPF rates both UVA and UVB protection, whereas SPF only rates UVB protection. In 1996, the term UPF was devised in Australia as a measure of how much UV penetrates a fabric.

UPF is determined by using a UV transmittance analyzer to gauge the spectral transmission of UVB and UVA through a fabric. If a fabric is rated UPF 30, then it is absorbing or blocking 29 out of 30 units of UVR, or 97 percent of UVR. This is the same level of protection provided by an SPF 30 sunscreen that is used properly. To achieve a UPF, a fabric must undergo 40 simulated launderings, be exposed to the equivalent of 2 years of light exposure and be tested with chlorinated water if it is intended for swimsuits.

Specially Made Sun Protective Clothing

Today, many manufacturers offer special UV-absorbing clothes, from swimsuits and shirts, to hats and pants. This clothing will usually have a high UPF rating, indicating how much UVR it absorbs. These clothes have special weaves, and are treated with UV-absorbing chemicals such as titanium dioxide.

To be deemed sun-protective, such clothing must have a UPF of more than 30 and retain its sun-protective qualities after numerous washings and exposure to sunlight.  Shawn Allen, MD

You probably didn’t read this to get a dissertation on Sun Protection, and that’s not the intent, but hopefully it helps you make better decisions when cycling in the sun.

The Performance Jersey has 3 pockets on the back which I worried about initially due to the extra fabric causing discomfort for recumbent use, but I have yet to test this and will report back after my first ride.  From just trying on the Jersey it seems to make no difference.  One really nice feature and another reason I selected this Jersey is the front zipper extending down chest length (12″) to help with ventilation on really hot days.  This also makes it a whole lot easier to get the Jersey on and off when you are sweaty!  At the base of the Jersey is an elastic hem to keep it from flopping around as you ride, this is a nice plus and doesn’t seem to bother me in the way that some elastic clothing does.

100% Polyester, very lightweight, made in Mexico (Because we all know that the United States isn’t capable of Manufacturing anything anymore due to Corporate Greed and Regulation).

Note about Performance Bike Shipping

I paid $35 +$6.99 Shipping and Handling.  And I should mention that while the Jersey was packed very nicely, the shipping time was just pathetic.  Performance uses Federal Express “Smart Post” which is the dumbest way they could possibly ship.  Seriously 9 days to ship after my order was put into the system.  Fed Ex Smart Post takes the package, then routes it through the slowest possible hubs, finally handing the package to the United States Postal Service for delivery.  Yes you read that right, the USPS is the actual delivery agent for final delivery.  Why not just give it to the USPS to begin with?  Beats the hell out of me.  If Performance did that I would have had it a week ago!!!  And it’s not like I got a bargain on a 1lb item for $6.99.  After this experience Ill have to think… really think about ordering from Performance again.  In this case they were the only place that had what I wanted/needed in the price range.

I’ll report back on the comfort after I’ve actually ridden with this Jersey.

Avid Brakes Single Digit 7 V Brake Review

I just bought an Avid Single Digit 7 V Brake because I recently upgraded my front fork to allow for a larger diameter wheel and the old Tektro Mini V’s are too short to work properly.  If you are looking for a quality well priced and very effective rim brake for your bicycle then Avid Single Digit 7 should be on your short list.  I’ve never really liked the Mini V’s from Tektro because they are hard to adjust and have cheap springs.

Installation of the Single Digit 7 V Brake

Installation was a breeze because I chose not to replace the old brake cable and housing.  I just unscrewed the old brakes and screwed on the new Avid Brakes.  I did not change the brake levers either as they work just fine.  I did use the supplied brake noodle and the new dust boot cap (another nice improvement over the Mini V Brakes).  I selected the standard middle whole for the spring mechanism and pushed the pads flush with the rims.  I didn’t even have to move any spacers.  I’m running an Mavic 717 and the alignment was near perfect.  I own a Hozan cable puller which makes installation even easier.  Although if I didn’t have it I’m sure it wouldn’t have been much harder.  Installation of these rim brakes couldn’t have gone smoother!

Within 10 minutes I had the Single Digit 7’s installed and adjusted.  The Allen wrench adjustment is in my opinion better than the Phillips screw head adjustment of the Tektro’s I replaced.  Bottom line is these brakes are easy to install and adjust.  And the power – much better!  These are very grippy and make no noise at all.  I did clean the rims before installing, but still noise free brakes are what we are all after.

I considered the Single Digit 5’s, but the price difference wasn’t so great after factoring in the free shipping to make it worth downgrading.  The Single Digit 7’s are a bit lighter and offer a better stock brake pad.  I also couldn’t justify the price of the next step up in the Avid Linear Pull line (SL then Ultimate) to shave just a few grams (20 and 3 grams respectively).

I did read many reviews of the Avid Single Digit 7’s before making my purchase and for years these have been the overwhelming choice for solid, strong, reliable well priced rim brakes.  Bachetta Bikes uses the Single Digit 7’s on some of their bikes.  It’s hard to argue with excellent engineering and quality ergonomics.

To save you the visit to the Avid/SRAM site here are the spec’s:

Weight     185 grams (per wheel)
Caliper Design     Forged
Finish     Graphite Grey
Pad     RW2 Cartridge Pad
Adjustment     Screw Style
Special Features     Stainless Steel hardware, Oversized Linear spring, Aluminum pivot bushings
Compatibility     Mountian style levers

Update:  I liked the Single Digit 7 Brakes so much just ordered another set for the Rear.  Be sure when you order to specify front or rear.  It’s my understanding the bolt lengths are different so you’ll want to be sure they fit correctly.

JensonUSA Sucks – Shipped me Used Parts!!!

UPDATE: AFTER A MONTH AND A DOZEN OR SO EMAILS I FINALLY GOT MY REFUND IN FULL.

Until recently I was a long term customer of JensonUSA having made several past purchases without incident.  I am absolutely astounded at what they tried to pull on me, and the way they responded to their con. Instead of admitting their guilt, they tried to pass this off as a normal business practice. They sent me used products, blamed me, and never refunded me as promised.  Good thing they are not in the medical equipment business

The Black greasy fingerprints on the INSIDE of the box was a nice touch!

JENSONUSA = FAIL.

I have purchased in the past from JensonUSA without problem.

In fact about 2 weeks ago I ordered brakes for my front wheel. No problem.

I liked them so much I ordered the companion for my rear brakes. That’s where it gets ugly.

The brakes they sent for the rear were in a white generic box, they were loose in the box and missing parts.

I immediately wrote Jenson. Their response was they would just credit me for the brakes.. That would seem reasonable. I told them I did NOT want the used brakes and asked them to issue a return call tag. I told them I can afford to buy my bike parts and when I buy parts I expect them to be new parts. I did not asked to be credited, I asked for them to take their old parts back and I would buy new parts from a different vendor.

The very fact that they sent me used parts was appalling and not acceptable.

So what did Jenson have to say about this:

“It is entirely possible that our company will open a box (for example, to photograph an item). That’s still new. We also accept New-and-unused returns from consumers. Finally items from our stores could be opened to be put on display.”

Repackaged, Customer Returns, and Demos are NOT NEW!!! Pulling parts off of bikes and reselling them is not new. Apparently they believe it’s okay to send used parts to customers who pay FULL RETAIL. This was their excuse. If you had seen the way these arrived many people would have been even more upset than I was.

And sure offering to credit the full amount seems like a nice gesture doesn’t it?

But that’s not what they did. Instead I got an additional charge of $6.95 billed on my statement.

Have not heard back from Jenson about this new charge.

JENSONUSA = FAIL.

If you want to be treated like crap, get used stuff… then go ahead and buy from them.

For me I’m done with them. Again this is not my first purchase from Jenson, I’ve made several. And this is how they treat repeat customers.

So now I have used brakes and no refund, waiting for the payment processor to make things right.

JENSONUSA = FAIL.

You don’t blame your customers for your inability to operate an ethical business.