Thursday, January 21, 2010

Winter project

Last fall I demo'd or rented different 29er hardtails. One was a specialized S-works at Fort Rock. I immediately grasped some of the benefits and disadvantages of big wheels. Mostly benefits.  Having gotten back into MTB racing last summer, I was ready to upgrade my hardtail racing platform. S-works don't come cheaply. I got some pricing on framesets and then contemplated my next move for several weeks.

During my period of contemplation, I travelled to Tennessee for a weekend escape of mountain biking.  I rented a Gary Fisher Paragon, also a 29er. It was a lower end bike with aluminum frame and mid-grade components. It handled much differently, set up with a different frame geometry GF calls Genesis-2. Being alloy, the frame was much stiffer than the S-works. I was somewhat disappointed in the flexiness of the S-works frame. I had no interest in building up an aluminum hardtail though. I break 'em too quickly.

I did a little more research in to Gary Fisher offerings. In 2010, they offer only the singlespeed Superfly as a frameset. The MSRP of the SS Superfly was many hundreds of dollars less than the S-works. I went back into contemplation mode for a while again. Finally, working with a LBS, I put in a formal request to see if I could get a geared version of the 2010 Superfly. The answer was yes, but not as a frameset. I could get a frame, the same custom offset Fox 29" fork used on the SS frameset, but no semi-integrated headset. The headset was no biggie. The price was reasonable. I wanted in.

That was about two weeks ago. Yesterday I was still waiting for a call confirming a delivery date, expected to be in March. So last night I put an order in for the build kit:
  • EASTON MONKEYLITE XC RISER BAR '08 31.8mm, Low Rise, 685mm Wide
  • THOMSON ELITE X4 MOUNTAIN STEM Black, 100mm, 10 Deg, 31.8mm
  • SHIMANO XTR M972 SHADOW REAR DERAILLEUR Gs 9Speed Top Normal, Low Profile Design
  • SHIMANO XTR M970 CRANKSET W/ BB Sil/Gry, 175mm, 44-32-22T
  • CANE CREEK ZS-3 HEADSET Black, 1 1/8", Zerostack Type, 44mm Od
  • SHIMANO DEORE XT M770 CASSETTE SPROCKET 11-13-15-17-20-23-26-30-34T, 9 Speed
Missing are wheels. Really struggling on that one. Options are Shimano XT tubeless, Mavic Crossmax UST, or maybe American Classic. The deal is, many 29er folks are running tubeless conversion setups, not true UST tubeless. They do this for multiple reasons, among them are much greater choice in tire selection, weight management, and potentially better traction with standard tires that are more supple. The down side is tubeless conversion setups aren't as reliable. I put high value on reliability. Not just for racing, but for epic rides as well. I did some big off-road races this past year with no flats or mechanicals. I use 26" UST wheels and tires. UST offerings for 29" wheels and tires are very limited.

Roadie or skier readers might not have a clue what I'm talking about here, but UST is a strict tubeless tire/rim interface standard. It differs from regular tube type tires in how the bead hooks on the rim.  When riders take ordinary rims with spoke holes in them, use strips and tapes to seal them, then mount regular tires on them without a tube, all kinds of interesting things can happen. Sealant is required to keep air from leaking out. The sealant can act like a lubricant at the rim interface and allow the bead to slip right off of the rim. Sounds like a shotgun going off when this happens. More likely is to hit an object hard and "burp" the tire, where the bead seal is momentarily broken and much air is lost before the seal is re-established. I really don't want to deal with these risks. I'd rather take the weight penalty of a certified UST tubeless setup.

There are now "tubeless ready" tires on the market. These don't necessarily conform to any kind of standard like UST. I may experiment with these on UST wheels. Bontrager markets a number of 29" tubeless ready tires, but I have yet to find a Bontrager tire I like, for road or off-road. The tire I may start with could be Hutchison Python's, which come in 29" UST. I've ridden Pythons before, many years ago. A fast tire, but not for all conditions.

A couple other missing items from my list above are seat post and saddle. I know exactly what I want for these (Thomson and Terry), it's just the place I ordered the other stuff from was wicked expensive for these items. I got good deals on some of the items above, like $69 for the Hayes Stoker brakes and $399 for the XTR crankset.

So I was ready call the LBS today to bitch about why they haven't gotten back with me yet on a delivery date. They called before I could call, not to give me a date, but to tell me my frame and fork were in already. Holy crap! I thought I had all the time in the world to get parts on order. Now I really have to decide on wheels. There's a chance I could head to Tucson with this new rig in March if I get it built up in time.

The 2010 Gary Fisher Superfly frame. 1280 grams with water bottle
bolts, seat post clamp, and derailleur hanger. Goal is to build it up
2 lbs lighter than my small-wheeled Dean Ti hardtail (which was sent
back three months ago for repair).


CB2 said...

When set up properly a sealant based tubeless system works very well. Some tires work better than others; Continental, and Maxxis have been the most reliable for me. What is more typical for me is that the sealant will glue the tire bead to the rim strip rather than act as a lubricant. One key is to make sure you actually have enough sealant in your tires; with a new 29" tire I start with 120 ml of sealant, and it can dryout so if you have the same tires on for 6 weeks or so, you might want to top them off.
I won't mention the "f" word or the "p" word due to superstition, but I haven't had an air based mechanical since I picked up a 2.5" nail in a race in 2007.
Knock wood!

Hill Junkie said...

Charlie - "air based mechanical," I like that! Are you talking non-UST Conti's and Maxxis? I have been using UST Mutanoraptors and Fire XC Pros for many years. I don't think I've had a UST flat in over five years. Never burped either. I've always used Stan's. Supposedly with UST tires, sealant is redundant, as the tire casing and bead are already designed to prevent air loss. It is part of the UST spec. Pretty much everybody runs Stan's in UST tires though. Just makes an already beefed up tire that much heavier.

Stan's does go dry after while. I find when it is time to rotate tires front to back, it is also time to add more sealant anyway. There's a new sealant out there that supposedly doesn't go dry (forget name).

I've also gotten some good email feedback from this post. Perhaps I should consider a no-tubes setup since I use Stan's anyway. Sounds like the technology has matured from do-it-yourself hacks of several years ago.

CB2 said...

I use regular tires and non UST rims. Heck, I don't even use Stan's rims!
I've had best results with Stan's rubber rim strips on the conventional rims I've used.
Friends with the Stan's rims find them almost effortless to seat and seal.

plum said...

The Superfly is one sexy frame, no doubt about it. Good choice. Glad you like the geometry; I've never tried it myself.

On the Mamasita, I'm running a set of non-UST hand built wheels. White Industries hubs and Salsa Semi hoops. I had Delgado 29 rims mated to the hubs before, and they spun up noticeably quicker, but they developed an incurable hop which led to the rebuild.

The hubs are incredible. They spin so long it's almost stupid. I'd love to match them up to a lighter rim.

Big Bikes said...

You have chosen...wisely.

Don't sweat the "Tubeless Ready" thing for a second. It just means that the tire relies on sealant (which you should always run anyway) to seal the porous sidewall. I've had great luck with the Bontrager 29-3 2.0s (which are a lot like a Python).


Anonymous said...

- debate no further. Stan's rimms are bomb-proof. i run both the Arch & the Flow's on a couple of my bikes. Have never failed me - riding nasty NJ rocky single-track on a some-times rigid SS 29er...

Brian from NJ

Anonymous said...

Doug, check out the Bontrager products. I'm running the TLR rim strips in my blunt hoops 28mm. With WTB Weirwolf 2.5 LT rubber. Stans Sealant. 185-190lb rider, no burps, blow outs, or leakage. 25psi full rigid.

If i was a bit lighter i would look at the stans stuff. That bike would look great with some white hoops. Happy hunting...

Dave said... lust.
I just got a new El Mariachi and the damn weather is relentlessly crappy! Bike came with 2.55" weirwolf shoes. 20 psi and I barely notice there is no suspension except on rocky fall line descents. Still, I miss my Python UST ride. Salsa Semi rim sticker says no tubeless. Oh, and steel is real...heavy. Rides nice though. Sounds like your build will be nice. Ever looked at Dave's Speed Dream wheels? I think that will be my 1st upgrade next year. Hey, I did not see your SM100 planned event. Gonna do Leadville instead?

rick is! said...

stans rims are the way to go. I've raced for two seasons on a pair of arch's and the only times (2) I had a problem were: 1- I got a sidewall cut so big that nothing was going to help me other than a boot and a tube (which is what any set-up would have required)2- got one puncture that wouldn't seal but it was because I hadn't put stans in in probably 4 months so it was my own fault.

whatever you do, don't use maxxis ignitors tubeless. they're a great tire but the sidewall will be showing threads long before the tread wears out. trust me on that, I have three sets with perfect tread but scary sidewalls.