You can go ahead and file this post under “too little too late.”
Here’s what happened:
It’s been just a few PSI over a year since I took delivery of the Marin Pine Mountain 1, and it was a ridiculously beautiful day, so I figured I’d indulge in my standard behind-the-mall jaunt before completing my blogular responsibilities. It was quite an enjoyable ride, and I felt nothing but sprightly. The outdoor mall adjacent to the park has a Whole Foods, so afterward I stopped in for some lunch. People often look at me funny for riding a bike through a shopping mall, but I also look funny at them in return for shopping at a mall when they could be riding mountain bikes instead.
Everything was fine, and there were no signs anything was amiss with me physically but by the time I got home I felt like ass. Total ass. Like “I can’t pick up my head or I’m gonna puke” ass.
I don’t know if it was something I ate or just some post-ride atomic bonk-cum-dehydration freakout, but only now am I able to type words into my computing device, and I deeply apologize for leaving you blogless.
There was one thing unusal about the ride though, which is that when I got to the gate that leads to the trails it was ajar and there was an empty shopping cart in front of it:
I don’t know if someone stole a bunch of shit from Dick’s Sporting Goods and vanished into the forest, or if someone went a-deer huntin’ and used the shopping cart to portage his kill back to his car, sort of like this guy from the other day:
I should have taken it as an omen.
Speaking of fat tires (the Marin has them), the road Freds are onto them too, and before I headed out this morning I noted this article in which James Huang dives deep into the wide rim craze:
It was only just a handful of years ago that 15mm was considered an optimal width for everyday road wheels, narrow enough to slice through the air, light enough to feel faster on the climbs, and a suitably broad foundation for the 23mm-wide tires commonly used at the time. Today, most modern high-performance road wheels now measure around 20mm — an increase of just 5mm, but a whopping 33%. What’s the thinking behind this rapid change? U.S. technical editor James Huang takes a look at the upsides and downsides of this now-common trend.
This is obviously one of the few roadie crazes that actually makes sense, though rest assured it’s only a temporary fad. After all, we’ve been through this before:
As you can see, Fred tires were pretty plump to begin with, but then they got all skinny, and now they’re getting fat again, and I promise you in 20 years they’ll be insisting that you (or your progeny) should be riding on 21mm tires inflated to 120psi.
It’s like a whole Big Bang/Big Crunch thing.
Anyway, you’d think you could just put some fatter tires on the wheels you already have, but these are roadies you’re talking about so you’d be wrong. You need new ones:
“Going wider makes the tire take on a better shape for better handling,” according to Boyd Johnson of Boyd Cycling. “It allows you to use a wider tire and not have a lightbulb shape (picture a 28mm tire on a 13mm rim). It also helps with aerodynamics in the higher yaw range, and allows you to use the wheel for multiple purposes. The same wheel you are using in a crit can be used for gravel or cyclocross.”
I dunno, I’ve always used everything from 23s to 32s or so on my road bike wheels, and it seemed to work just fine. But but apparently in addition to sacrificing precious handling precision I was also risking my life:
“Even though the norms might seem silly, they are real,” stressed Mavic global brand manager Chad Moore. “The safety concerns are real. The tests are real. The failures are real. It’s not bullshit. Being one of, if not the biggest wheel manufacturers in the world, we simply cannot take any chances. I can offer you a lot of math about percentages of failures per hundreds or thousands of wheels based on the ETRTO testing, but I don’t think I need to. With the amount of Ksyrium wheel-tire systems that we sell, you can imagine how even just 1-in-1000 failures could impact our customers. We just don’t want to take that chance.”
Bold words indeed from the company that brought you the exploding R-Sys:
In conclusion, pile up all your old 23mm tires, make a tire fire, and purchase new expensive new tires and wheels immediately.
Lastly, remember that paper bike helmet? It won that Dyson award:
It also works as a filter for your vacuum cleaner, so at least it’s economical.
And with that I leave you, and hopefully whatever’s ailing me passes quickly. Please accept my apologies, or don’t, what do I care, and either way I’ll see you back here on Monday. Ride safe and enjoy the weekend.
–Wildcat Rock Machine