Monday, November 26, 2012

Q & A

First there was a question and I had an answer:

From cargo bike listserve,

"I'd like a tire that can handle some off-road/gravel/hard-pack/maybe some mud, but which will also be fairly low rolling resistance on the the street. Right now I think my Xtracycle will see mostly street duty, but I'd like to have tires on it that will serve for those times that I might ride on the rough stuff. Also, after seeing some blog posts by a guy who uses his Big Dummy to carry equipment out to his research sites, I've been inspired by the idea of maybe using my Xtracycle to get out to do camping, birding, carrying my boat, etc."

So replied with this,

As a guy who has written "some blog posts by a guy who uses his Big Dummy to carry equipment out to his research sites"  I'll throw my two cents out there. 

(I don't know for sure if it was my posts that you read or not, but if there is somebody else hauling research equipment with a Dummy I'd love to have the link and the chance to pick his brain.)

First off I see you bought the Kendas.  Looked like a great deal on a quality tire, I hope you enjoy them and report back when you've got some miles and an opinion on them.

As for my set up, I am a tire tinkerer.  I enjoy experimenting with different tire/rim combos just to see what happens.  On the BigDonkey I've tried a number of things including:  2.4 Maxxis Holy Rollers, 3.7 Surly Endomorph (up front only), 3.0 Nokian Gazzaloddi, 2.1 Bontrager 'generic style mountainbike tires', 29x2.35 Schwalbe Big Apples, and my favorite set up 26x2.35 Big Apples.

All of these tires were run on a widish (~44mm) Alex DM24 rim, and a couple also spent time on a modified Sun Ringle Double wide.

If you were posing this question regarding a non-longtail setup, I would hands down recommend the Holy Rollers (which I've run in the summer on couple different bikes, including my Surly 1x1), but a cargobike is a different beast.
This spring a gypsy I crossed path with traded me some Holy Rollers he had for the Big Apples I'd been running on my Dummy.  A few thousand miles later he was switching to full on fat tires and offered to mail my Big Apples back to me, to which I enthusiastically said 'yes'.  I swapped the Holy Rollers off and slapped the Big Apples back on and everything was again right with the world.  Not that the Holy Rollers were bad or lacking, but I just find the Big Apples to be a little nicer, a little quieter, a little smoother and a little more pleasant to ride.

The Big Apples plenty of traction for almost all of the trail riding I do on the Dummy.  The long, stable cargo bike isn't getting rallied through corners quite the same way a regular bike would so cornering traction isn't a huge issue.
The flat protection from the tires is fantastic and the ride quality is super plush.  I think Gypsy Nick rode something like 3,000 flat free,  loaded, touring miles on my well used Big Apples before mailing them back. 

A flat tire on a loaded cargobike could be particularly inconvenient.
Knock on wood, but in the past 3 years I've had no flats on the Big Donkey that I can recall.
I have however shifted the chain off the top of the cassette a couple of times and learned how annoying rear wheel repairs in the field can be.

I've had more than one instance of slamming hard into an unavoidable rock and feeling my rim make contact with the rim.  Not only have I escaped without pinch flats, but I've also not had to true the rims.
It looks like the Schwalbe Fat Franks would also be a excellent option and perhaps provide a hair more traction.

Just my thoughts, no more right or wrong than anyone else's, but I'll put them out there for what they're worth.

Then I had a question I sent out to Allman and Gypsy Nick that went something like this:

Subject:  Thoughts?

6 miles through the woods to school. 

4 miles on paths home.

2 hours later, in the garage, rear tire is flat . . . tear at the valve stem (presta).

2 nights in a row.

Additional information available upon request.

I have a theory or two, but would be curious if you had any additional insight.

After all the holiday thankfulness I have to say I'm thankful to be able find answers to bike questions on the internet.  Not too long ago things were a lot different. 
Resources and answers were quite limited by today's standards, I try not to take it for granted.


  1. Who's the other guy doing research on his Dummy? He sounds pretty cool.

    Tell me more about the broken valve. Are you riding a fatbike that I still don't know about.

  2. Trust me, if I had a fatbike you'd know about it. I've been riding the big boned/midfat 1x1 around. Endo in front, Gazzaloddi in back.

    I think you're onto something with the tube shifting within the tire. I also think having the presta valve nuts on too snug might be contributing. Especially when I put them on in my 50deg garage and then ride at 0deg. Hypothesizing that tube contracts in the cold, creeps around inside the, well talcum powdered, tire and too much stress at the valve leads to a tear. Slow enough that I can finish my ride home without noticing, but enough that its completely flat when I go back to the garage 2 hours later.

    Probably doesn't help that I really like to skid in the winter. I feel like an 8 year old breaking that back tire free every chance I get. Snow on frozen trails alleviates any guilt I would feel doing the same thing in the summer.

    How's your tubeless experiment going?
    I haven't dabbled in that yet, I'm usually blessed with so few flats and I'm forever swapping tires around that it seems like more hassle than I'm up for.
    If there were goatheads around here I wouldn't hesitate though.

  3. Tubeless is good, but I need to do it again to properly seat the tire (it wobbles) and to cut some weight. I used a bunch of old 20" tubes to build up the rim bed so that the tire would "catch" the air form the compressor. Otherwise, all the air seems out from under before it hooks up on the rim. Some people use explosives to expand the chamber more rapidly.

    Regarding flats, I've been 100% flat-free on the tubeless, and I've seen lots of goat heads sticking out of the Nate. The rear, which still has a tube and sealant, goes soft at least once a week. Waiting for some 26 x 3.8 Knards in the mail to finish the tubeless experiment.

    I figured you might be riding a fat tire around. It might also be an issue on the narrower rim. Modern fatbike rims have a better beadlock, like tubeless specific stuff, to prevent the tire from walking at low pressures.

    You know, you could be riding a Pugsley for not too much money considering the parts at your disposal. The 135mm hubs make it pretty affordable. And/or, I have a purple offset Pugsley fork in Anchorage if you want to throw it on the 1x1 of the Donkey. I could also send the Nate back to AK if you need...

  4. I've watched some of the explosive bead seating videos, looks like fun.

    I know just how cheaply I could get into a Pugsley, but three years as a family of 3 on 1 income even a few hundred dollars for wheels and frames isn't going to be a reality in the near future. Thanks for the fork/tire offer, but I'm pretty content at the moment. A 100mm, non-offset Pug fork is something I search for with some regularity, but I'm too cheap at the moment to drop $100 on it. It would only tempt me to build up MargeLite wheels.

    As it is I really enjoy the 1x1 set up, and none of my flats or tire issues have involved the Endomorph. It has far surpassed my hopes and expectations. I actually find it to be a decent front tire on the narrower rims (34-44mm) which round out some of its blocky shoulder that make its handling goofy on a fat rim.
    The 1x1 rides like a burly mountain bike rather than a fat bike, something my friend Lucas (LoL) noted on a recent group ride after following me for a while on his Moonlander.
    Maybe think of it as 26+.

    My long term ideal for that bike would be a pair of Marge Lites shod with 26x3.0 Knards. (Hopefully the jokers at Surly are reading this.)

    We've had so little snow so far this year the 1x1 has been the perfect balance of float&cushion vs. roll. More than once I've chosen it over a FatBack that regularly hangs out in my garage.

    The flats have come on the Gazzaloddi on a SunRingle DoubleWide rim. Downhill tire, downhill rim. Certainly a few things I could fiddle with to see if it makes a difference (seat the bead even better, run larger tubes, presta valve nuts not so tight, etc.) No issue after a couple hours around Campbell Creek yesterday.

  5. I've said it a few times already, but there is a huge gap between 2.5" and 3.8" tires. Hey Surly jokers, are you listening? Probably not. I bet they are doing this instead:

    Or this:

    26+ sounds like an 80's dream. Alright, speaking of the 80's I thought you might like this. I just heard about the movie "Rad" for the first time today:

    I might be giving up a 100mm Pug fork someday, and it might come with a Marge Lite/dynamo wheel attached.