Saturday, May 24, 2014

Challenge Griffo XS 33 tyres - long term review.

The Challenge Griffo XS 33  is a lovely tyre - while it lasts. Your milage may vary, but mine was about 1500km, which is nowhere near enough for a $A70 pair of tyres no matter how sweetly they roll.

The Griffos are light and supple and smooth and fast but I'm hearing stories about their durability from other rides and now experiencing them myself. On our 60km ride last weekend, the tread started lifting on both of my tyres as shown below. Each had done about 1500km.

Front tyre showing section of tread lifting. 

Second area on front tyre with lifting tread.

Rear tyres, lifting tread has torn at leading edge. 
With durability issues like this I advise steering clear of these tyres. Admittedly they're puncture resistant and were only just starting to wear on the centre section, so I think would otherwise have been good for around 4000km, but tread problems like this are a safety hazzard. 

I suspect the problems I and others have experience is a weakness in the glue used to attach the tread to the casing that the folk at Challenge will get on top of in time. I hope so, because for a while the Griffos seems to have been a solution to the problems raised but not solved by some of the Grand Bois tyres.

(My far more favourable initial impressions of this tyre can be found here.)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

More gravel. 60km in the Snowy Range.

Another fine outing thanks to some careful planning using Google Earth and Route here for anyone interested:

On Denison Ridge, heading west.

Back down in the valley.

Heading up the range.

Big Tree, Link Road,

Nearing the finish.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Tassie Gravel.

I've been messing around with some story telling tools (aren't we blessed to live in such an age?). Over at Creativist I've put together a short multimedia-rich page on gravel riding in Tasmania. I hope you like it. 

2238km so far this year.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Just another Sunday ride.

It wasn't that remarkable a ride really, just another Sunday run, part of the excuse being my new bike.  I wasn't even going to blog until photos turned out nice. 

The weather was ok though a bit blowy. It was cool and looking a bit like rain. It was a bit hard to figure out what to wear and nobody really knew how far we were going though the answer is always 'as far as we get'. That sounds way more dramatic than it generally turns out to be. 

We hadn't really agreed on where we were going almost until we set out, but since when was the destination important? A wise woman once said a bad day on the bike is better than a good day in the office. She was right, although this was nothing like a bad day on the bike. Denison Hill and Link Road notwithstanding.

What really made it was the roads. We know these tracks pretty well but unlike your newfangled tar, gravel or dirt or unsealed or whatever you like to call them roads vary wildly with the seasons and with the sporadic maintenance they get in these parts. In summer they can be dry and dusty and potholed and after winter rains the surface can be wheelsucking-sticky like riding across the top of a mud cake. But now and again these roads ride smoother and faster than the finest board track you could care to name. And no board track is lined with the tall trees of southern Tasmania nor do you get to suck into your lungs during your exertions the cleanest air in the world.

I was going to have a good day no matter what happened for I was on a new bike. Link Road is my nemesis - actually everyone's nemesis for it's steepness on both sides. Here's how steep: I walked most of the way up but still managed to be second fastest rider (out of three) who ever passed by this road according to Strava. In all fairness two of our bunch made it all the way up in the saddle fast enough to wonder where we'd got to but aren't slaves to the our GPS overlords. Strong leg bragging rights - and my admiration - to them. 

Nasty, or perhaps necessary hills behind us loomed the fun part. At this point on the map you're closer to the towns of savage toothless wastrels on the other side of the Snowy Range by a large margin than anywhere in the Huon Valley that could make even a tenuous claim to civilisation. But lo, the gently downsloping road has been moistened by autumn rain and rolled smooth by the wheels of what little traffic passes through these parts and was wanton and slick and fast. And as an added bonus we picked up a gentle tailwind for the 30km run in to lunch.

It was a fine run into Huonville. On my count we saw about three cars all day. Big gears were turned over at high cadences and tall tales of rides past were told. After a very pleasant downwind run those who remained turned back into the wind for the upwind grind back to where we started. Another fine Sunday spent, messing about on bikes. Wherever Sunday found you I hope your ride was as good at ours.

2180km so far this year.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

New bike day: Niner RLT gravel grinder

With so many lovely gravel roads around here I've been keen to get a disk braked gravel bike for a while. The Niner RLT looked to be just the ticket and after a bit of a wait for it to ship I can now say I have a bike that's perfect for about 80 per cent of the riding I do. After a couple of days and a steep learning curve on installing disk brakes I'd have to say I'm very happy with the bike so far. It's light and fast and comfortable and makes me want to ride all day. I'm still in the shakedown phase so my longest ride is 25km today on the flat. Something a bit more demanding looms tomorrow.

And how does it ride? Like a dream. Once I got the tyres right from the stock of offcasts in my shed right (Challenge Almazano, review to come). It soaks up the bumps nicely, and while the effect of the slightly long wheelbase is noticable in out-of-the-saddle efforts it's a bike that invites the rider to the stay seated and spin rather than jump up and grind. The steering is nicely predicable. I have a feeling we'll have many happy miles together, on road and off.

2036km so far this year.