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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Although at times it can be a bit over the top when the rest of my life is chaotic, most days I feel pretty fortunate to have frequent opportunities to evaluate prototype bike stuff. I divested myself of a few of my eval relationships the past few years in order to get things back to a more manageable level, and lately I've really, really been enjoying the process.

It's fascinating to be a part of the ground-up process on some of these parts/tires/suspension/frames, etc... because you get to start with a vision and move concurrently through protoyping, pre-production, testing/eval, tweaking, re-production, more eval and tweaking, then finally production. In some cases that process takes 2+ years start to finish. Patience is required and is far preferred to rushing then roundfiling a design and starting all over.

While much time is spent verbally sharing or emailing ideas and suggestions in both directions, it's necessary to actually ride the product in order to be able to discuss improvements. Currently the LunchBox has more pre-production or proto parts than it does production stuff, but its been that way for several months more-or-less untouched so last night I added a new variable: A fresh off the boat set of proto FR/DH tires. John swung by on his way home from work and picked up one of the samples to install on his Behemoth, then we met for a ride early AM today.

And what a fantastic ride it was.


When testing I prefer to ride solo so that I can pay attention to whatever it is that needs evaluating--at least for the first ride or two. Once I have a decent handle on the performance and a few of the variables it's fun to share the love and stick one of the proto parts onto someone else's bike to get their take on things. I'd ridden the new tires for ~3 hours last night on one of the better test tracks available on this planet, then John and I rode out and duplicated some of that loop this morning.

For normal human beings like us, climbing a 36lb pig isn't exactly "fun" per se, but there are so many things to enjoy (like gorgeous morning light on the way up) that the climbs go pretty fast and little blood is shed.


First few chunky moves off the top.




We stopped and chatted several times on the ride, mostly discussing the tires we were riding. This tire has a reasonable chance of being produced and shipped quickly, so our riding and discussion today focused on tread pattern, apparent casing durability, and tread compound. Precious little scientific terminology was bandied about--it was more along the lines of 'Holy ****--did you see THAT?!' or 'WOW--I can't believe I got away with that one!'

John biting off a bit more than he had bargained for.


A heady move that I don't care too much for. John snapped this one a bit early but you can clearly see the dark flat ledge that my front wheel is about to clear. The front wheel doesn't touch it but even if you 'ride light' the back slams pretty hard. On a normal (non-tire-testing) day I'd unweight the rear end as I slammed into it to keep from flatting or denting the rim.
Today I sat back and kept my full weight planted on that sucker. Harsh noise and a minor dent but no flat. Time to start dropping the pressure. We'd both started at ~20psi but it was time to see how low we could go.

A hard rear wheel slam on this manual, followed by an off-camber hole that really torques the rear end of the bike around. On an XC bike this move is borderline painful (and is probably gonna take years off the life of the bike) but today, at ~10psi, it was disappointingly smooth.


I shot this one a touch late of John clearing some chunk, but I like the way you can see how packed up his rear shock is. Using all the travel.


Still hadn't been able to flat 'em despite several (deliberate) badly chosen lines. So we dropped the pressure even more--I didn't have a gauge with me but I guessed that I was at ~5 or 6psi at this point.


Very few people would want to run these pressures because the wheels become a lot harder to push and a lot less predictable even as traction goes through the roof. The tires just conform to every rock of any size and as long as you can keep the power on you *will* maintain traction.


Manualing/dropping to flat at stupid low pressures.


Our bikes are set up very different so we swapped for a bit to compare and note differences.


John noticing a little 'float' from the low pressure rubber on off-camber rock.


I noticed a mechanical issue on John's bike that required immediate attention. We were both impressed that he still had *one* chainring bolt hanging on, and that the other three only needed an average of 8 turns to snug 'em up.


Lots of dust on rock and kitty litter on hardpack on the local loops--pretty typical for summer. We were both impressed to the point of surprise at the lean angles we were able to achieve and the lack of drifting we experienced in these conditions.


My turn to use up all the travel.


The in-run to this one is slightly uphill, then you're pointed down when it comes to time to manual off. In short, it's almost always a hard hit. John makes it look smooth anyway.


What goes up...


Must come down.


Sometimes again and again because it's such a fun one.


Back into the chunk.


Arcing it in prep for a fun descent.


Testing the tires' braking capabilities in ball bearings.




The ride was only ~2 hours long but we learned bunches about personality of this particular tire and now have some solid feedback to offer to the manufacturer. I'm not big on working weekends but sometimes, like today, I'm willing to take one for the team to keep the process moving...

There are worse ways to spend a morning.

MC

P.S. I was wrong on the pressure I had settled on--when I got home and checked it with a gauge the rear tire pressure didn't register. I'm thinking it was more like 3-4psi...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
MMcG said:
Great photos. Just curious - what are the two forks on the bikes. Yours looks to have a lot more clearance at the arch than John's does.
His is a circa '05 BW 1.3, *but* he also has a 2.6 on the front. My fork is an '07 F150, *and* I have a 2.4 up there.

The newer fork definitely has more clearance, but the tire size difference is worth noting as well.

MC
 

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Were those F/R specific? From the pics it looks like a decent rear tire....but I'm not so sure I like that tread pattern for the front. Any weights you care to divulge?

WTB has definitely gone whole hog/ full in on 29er tires & it shows. I look forward to more info on this tire :)
 

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mikesee said:
His is a circa '05 BW 1.3, *but* he also has a 2.6 on the front. My fork is an '07 F150, *and* I have a 2.4 up there.

The newer fork definitely has more clearance, but the tire size difference is worth noting as well.

MC
Thanks for the scoop on the different tire sizes.
 

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mikesee said:
Still hadn't been able to flat 'em despite several (deliberate) badly chosen lines. So we dropped the pressure even more--I didn't have a gauge with me but I guessed that I was at ~5 or 6psi at this point.
Maybe you're just too smooth. Send me a pair and I bet I can flat 'em. :p

Seriously though, it kind of sounds like they were more tire than the terrain called for. For the type of riding you described/showed, would these be your first choice, or would something more along the lines of the Stout (i.e. <1 kg) be better overall? I'm all for the big meats, and will grab some as soon as they're available, but it sounds like these out do the current offerings (in terms of beefiness, and presumably weight) by a wide gap.
 

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What sort of tubes (if any) are you using that can take that beating as well?

Did you find the squirmyness of the low, low pressure annoying as the speeds increased?
 

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Enel said:
What sort of tubes (if any) are you using that can take that beating as well?
yes, and as always, thanks for sharing the awesome photos and new products. Please forgive my ignorance but what rims are you and John riding there?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Enel said:
What sort of tubes (if any) are you using that can take that beating as well?

Did you find the squirmyness of the low, low pressure annoying as the speeds increased?
These are ~95g Bontrager 26" tubes. On purpose--we're trying to determine how much the tire can take before transferring the impact to the tube/rim.

Squirmyness got worse with speed, but as speed picked up we also left rock/hardpack and got onto the ball bearings so it could be the surface as much as the pressure.

But I think 15-16psi is really ideal with this tire. Best of all worlds.

miles e said:
Maybe you're just too smooth. Send me a pair and I bet I can flat 'em. :p

Seriously though, it kind of sounds like they were more tire than the terrain called for. For the type of riding you described/showed, would these be your first choice, or would something more along the lines of the Stout (i.e. <1 kg) be better overall? I'm all for the big meats, and will grab some as soon as they're available, but it sounds like these out do the current offerings (in terms of beefiness, and presumably weight) by a wide gap.
Wasn't being smoove today!

Bottom line? No comparison between these and anything else. Single ply to ~dual ply never does compare for this kind of riding. These are my 'home trails' and I've ridden most of the available tires on them for the least few years. Neve's and Ramps or (insert your favorite tubed or tubeless 29" tire here) would have been cut/pinched on the moves/lines pictured even with 300g tubes and 40psi today. Stouts do a bit better, but I still would have had to run them at ~30+psi *and* be very careful. Big difference in traction and confidence between 10-15psi and 30+.

These are and will be heavy tires by any standard, but what price flat-proof? I'd much, much rather have too much tire in these instances than not enough. Wouldn't you?

Duzitall said:
yes, and as always, thanks for sharing the awesome photos and new products. Please forgive my ignorance but what rims are you and John riding there?
Something that's currently unavailable but that could/might see the light of day down the road.

G'night.

MC
 

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mikesee said:
These are and will be heavy tires by any standard, but what price flat-proof? I'd much, much rather have too much tire in these instances than not enough. Wouldn't you?
Yeppers. Bring on the 35 lb. Sultan. :D

Sounds like I'll need a second wheelset for days where I want the extra travel but don't want/need all the heft though. :madman:
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
miles e said:
Sounds like I'll need a second wheelset for days where I want the extra travel but don't want/need all the heft though. :madman:
Are you still running the FR rims as your 'heavy' wheelset?

Still a good choice IMO.

Put a set of these meats on there (eventually...) and then get a set of Flows for light weight with great durability. Tubed or tubeless the Flow is a great rim, especially at ~500g per.

The only thing I have to add after today's ride is this:


Well, and this:


Both are John's Rhyno Lite rims. The dents are not surprising all things considered (speed, PSI, terrain, indiscriminate line choice if any at all, etc...), but the flat spot in the first photo speaks volumes. Still no flat tires. If it was going to happen to either of us, it would have happened today.

Someone out there can probably flat these but it ain't gonna be easy.

Testing has now switched gears to focus on tread pattern and compound.

MC
 

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Are you telling us that you wanna "advertize" a 130mm travel bike as FR bike?
Give us at least 150mm front and rear or preferably 165mm with 1,5" headset to be the match for those FR 2,6" tyres. Behemoth and Lunchbox both at 130mm are now hackneyed.
Why didn'y you move towards real FR 29ers with at least 150-170 travel?

Let it be a creative or crappy criticism for you. Whatever you say, get down to work towards DH 29ers :thumbsup:
 

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Davidcopperfield said:
Are you telling us that you wanna "advertize" a 130mm travel bike as FR bike?
Give us at least 150mm front and rear or preferably 165mm with 1,5" headset to be the match for those FR 2,6" tyres. Behemoth and Lunchbox both at 130mm are now hackneyed.
Why didn'y you move towards real FR 29ers with at least 150-170 travel?

Let it be a creative or crappy criticism for you. Whatever you say, get down to work towards DH 29ers :thumbsup:
WHAT?
 

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mikesee said:
Are you still running the FR rims as your 'heavy' wheelset?

Still a good choice IMO.

Put a set of these meats on there (eventually...) and then get a set of Flows for light weight with great durability. Tubed or tubeless the Flow is a great rim, especially at ~500g per.
Yep, still running the FR rims as the only wheelset on the long(er) travel Sultan. I'd been thinking about getting a second set anyway with something along the lines of the Flows to run with mid weight tires for faster days. I'm sure once these DH tires are out and I put them on the FR wheelset that will seal the deal.
 

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Sounds like they fixed the kitty litter over hardpack issue. I'd say just press the "produce" button on these tires. Getting pretty jaded by looking at pictures of other folks riding these tires. I'd guess that there is very little chance that there will be any available in the near future, like mid July when I hit Colorado, but I'd just love to have some in time for a late season run to Mammoth. As well as for my usual Tahoe & D'ville playtime.

Thanks for all the grueling "work".
 
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