Monday, November 19, 2018

It's All Going To Hell

My self-administered sobriquet "Bike Snob" has always been somewhat ironic in that I'm not particularly, well, fastidious when it comes to my bikes, but as of today I think I've officially bypassed slovenliness and attained a state of liberating Don't-Give-A-Fuckitude, as exemplified by the state of this bicycle:


It all started when I was running out the door with child in tow; I was going to drop him off for his shift at the Apple factory (little fingers are crucial for Apple Watch assembly, and the $.35/hr he brings home really helps us balance our budget), and then I was going to drop THE CAR THAT THE BANK OWNS UNTIL I FINISH PAYING THEM BACK with the mechanic for some new rubber as well as other necessary service.  (I broke about 50 tire levers trying to mount the damn tires before finally giving up.)  And we all know what you do when you need to drop your car off at the garage for awhile:

You bring a bike with you and go for a ride.

Unfortunately, when I went to grab the Milwaukee I found the rear tire was flat.  My son's foreman gets very upset when he's late for work and has been known to dock him several weeks pay as punishment for tardiness, which meant I didn't have time to repair the flat and the only spare wheel I had ready to mount was sporting a chunky 35mm "gravel"-type tire I decided to try out on a whim some time ago.  So I threw it on:


Of course the tire didn't clear the strap-on fenders I've been sporting out of laziness.  (It doesn't even clear the brake pads; I have to deflate it a bit to get the wheel in there.)  So I quickly removed the tire and threw on the even cheesier filth prophylactic pictured above.  And because I'd already spent enough time doing all that, I didn't even bother swapping the front wheel, which had a comparatively diminutive 28mm tire on it:


The upshot of all this is that I'm now palping a mismatched pair of wheels, a mismatched pair of "fenders" (if you can even call them that), and a shocking 7mm width differential between my front and rear tires--all this in addition to handlebar tape that is in tatters and a front derailleur I recently had to bend back into shape in order to attain halfway decent front shifting.  Moreover, I don't see myself rectifying any of this in the near future, because after dropping the car off I did go for a ride, and you know what?  It was fine.

Actually, in a way it was more than fine.  Frankly I've never been too crazy about those trendy gravel tires as they don't ride particularly nicely, and they mostly just seem like an excuse to charge a lot of money for the sort low thread-count semi-knobby tire that 20 years ago you'd have found on a hybrid.  But with the narrower tire on the front the bike feels a little zippier, while at the same time I've still got the knobs and the width in the rear for a little bit of extra traction.  I'm sure I'm risking my life in all manner of ways by combing a gravel tire with a non-gravel tire, and I don't even want to begin contemplating the #whatpressureyourunning implications.

As for the ride I took, I cut a leisurely swath through the Bronx and upper Manhattan before returning home, making some lunch, and plopping myself down in front of the computer which is where you find me right now.  And finally, with regard to the car, feel free to make me an offer--it's been serviced recently and it has four new tires.

41 comments:

JLRB said...

Does the car have gravel specific tires?

I realized recently that the third string bike I've been riding to and fro work has mismatched sizes - 28 front 25 rear. Zero perceived difference in ride...

Anonymous said...

Titanium tire levers allow you to change a car tire, no problem.

bad boy of the south said...

...in a handbasket?

Dop said...

You tire combination dictated by circumstance makes you sound like Jimmy Stewart in the ‘Glen Miller Story’

There was a snowstorm and the Trombone Player was in a car wreck. They gave his part to the saxophone section, brought in more clarinets and he finally had THAT SOUND.

Off the back said...

On the "bike-I-use-to-get-the-Sunday-paper" (old Felt cx bike) I now sport a knobby in the front and a slick on the back - not trying to be cool, just pure laziness and it's all I have for spares at the moment. Call it the evolution of my attitude.
But yet, and here is the news, not much difference in ride quality.

Your human child gets 35 American cents an hour?!! My progeny gets a measly 20 cents. Consider yourself lucky.

Rob Rocha said...

I think the usual style is to have the larger width tire in the front. That is what I am most upset about. C'mon man. :P

Anonymous said...

You need to add some lever soap to the tire bead so that the tire machine does not pinch and break those levers. candle wax, chain wax, or even ear wax will also do.

Anonymous said...

Re: your first paragraph, I must say I like the ring of "BSNYC: Fuckmiser."

huskerdont said...

Huh, blogger doesn't drive much yet needs new tires before the car is paid off. Either it's an 8-year installment plan or there's something wrong. Or there's something I'm missing; yeah, it's probably that.

I can never actually keep up on all the maintenance on my bikes either. One has a shift cable that's fraying, another has one that recently broke such that I need a new lever because the little thingy broke off inside it and broke another little thingy and now the new thingy won't seat. God I hate changing cables.

BikeSnobNYC said...

huskerdont,

Car is a 2014 and has under 30K miles on it. NYC area eats tires. My previous car had much smaller and lower-profile tires; potholes used to destroy them regularly. In this case it was tread wear, lousy uneven road surface probably wreaks havoc with alignment and accelerates wear. But structurally they have held up.

Rob Rocha,

For MTBs yes, fatter in the front. Continental does sell a roadie tire combo with a narrower front though.

--Tan Tenovo

Freddy Murcks said...

How very outre of you, Snob. Your Old Millwater looks like just about like every bike I own (at least the ones that I ride - the ones that I don't ride stay clean and all matchy-matchy).

Drock said...

As a person who works on two wheeled steeds as a living/life choice I am taken back by the condition of your rides. You’ve made this hobby/career not sure what you call this blog/life you live. Can’t you find a bike Jesus working in your hood so we can then read about the clever underground bicycle repair guy you’ve found. Support local bike Jesus(s) for their healing powers and go the shops when u need gloves. And so I can get one more / in there, a bike with mismatched tires/wheels doesn’t matter, just needs to work properly and quietly cause a quiet cyclist is a cyclist who don’t have mechanical problems.

Weepy Sidewalls said...

A 700/40c rear tire with a 700/35-38c front can work (very) nicely as well, jus’ saying.

Bogusboy said...

An 88 relative effort? Very disappointing.

Olle Nilsson said...

With your constant disrespect of gravel tires, I’m shocked you’re alive to write this. Everyone knows that mismatching tires was only safe in the 1970s when banana seat bikes were so intrinsically safe no one needed helmets.

sweatpants cyclist said...

We understand. As you get older, you start to put more weight on the rear tire. Nothing to be ashamed of.. .

Marsu Pilamus said...

Monsieur le Snob : parce que vous utilisez le mot sobriquet, le vôtre semble tout à fait approprié.

Anonymous said...

I ride 25mm in front and 32mm in back. Not that anyone asked.

Grump said...

Snobby, if you used tubes in your car tires, you could change them yourself. You need two different shapes of levers (about 2-1/2 feet long)...PS. none of my wheels, tires, rims, or hubs match..

Vlad from Romania said...

Sheldon Brown writes someplace about experimenting with different front/rear tire widths, so you're in aristocratic company. Though Sheldon used a wider front tire, for extra cushioning.
https://www.sheldonbrown.com/tires.html

Anyway, the reason I'm commenting is that I would humbly ask your input and/or opinion on this bike, an unfixed fixie, that gave me some nightmares lately:
https://mashable.com/2017/05/19/bicycle-twists-middle-drifting-invention/?europe=true#Wfa9NtVZOiqw

Depeche said...

Your own
Personal
Bike Jesus

art said...

"Matched perfect and staggered special"

BikeSnobNYC said...

Grump,

I've done a motorcycle tire/tube. Not easy!

--Tan Tenovo

huskerdont said...

Yeah, figured it might be the NYC streets. My 2015 Subaru Crosstrek has 36,000 on it and they still have good tread.

Long weekend bike project is to change fecking shift cables on two bikes. I may start riding the fixie more, especially if I can ramp up my smugness to 50% seabiscuit levels.

George Krpan said...

A gravel bike IS a hybrid with a drop bar.

Spokey said...

my 2015 outback tires are still fine too. and the roads in these parts ain't so great either. in fact the dirt/gravelly road i live on may be one of the better as you don't get the sharp/steep slopes that i encounter at the potholes on those new-fangled paved roads.

must be that hyundai.

Anonymous said...

Subarus are so cliché.

Anonymous said...

how long can you resist the siren call of the hydraulic disc brakes on a road bike (#NotNecessarilyForGravel) --- so sweet and your tan sidewalls don't get all brake-dust-dirty when you ride in the rain.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 11:09am,

On one hand yes, but on the other I can't think of a car that's *not* cliché.

--Tan Tenovo

Pist Off said...

Cable brakes are so easy to maintain and work so well. I cannot justify hydraulic whatever on a road bike no matter where I ride it. If they work for you, great, but please, Anonymous dick brake douches, don’t act like they’re that compelling of an option.
Hydraulics are great for heavy machinery, like all of our Subarus.

huskerdont said...

I thought so as well, but then got a Trek Emonda with hydros and you know, when I go back to rim brakes I wonder why they aren't working. Noisy in the rain though, even after swapping out to organic pads.

Spokey said...

anon @1:21

i actually wanted a prius v (toyota says the 'v' stands for versatile) but toyota said no hitch for that car. no way no how even just for a bike rack. it wasn't obvious to me how versatile that was. maybe that's why they had to drop the model.

the dealer did say they'd put one one, but i wussed not wanting to invoke any warranty issues before i even drove it off the lot.

subarus are weird but i've been reasonably happy with the outback. it gets low 30s in almost completely local driving with all wheel drive. get upper 30s to low 40s going to lil sis down near wildwood except in the summer of course when i get somewhere between 2 and -19 mpg.

the hitch rack is a bit heavy to put on and off all the time. but as i get older it's better than schlepping the thing on my roof like i did with the '03 camry (until SPOUSY GAVE IT AWAY TO ONE OF THE KIDS!).

Spokey said...

oh, and i'm perfectly happy with my cabley rim brakes. got cantis for the new bike. they seem about the same as the '94 cannondale but a little easier to adjust. like the adjustments better on '02 comotion 'v' brakes. the squeal was driving me crazy until avid recalled them. couldn't adjust the noise out no matter what i did. but the new ones are quiet so i probably had one of the defective ones that were about to disintegrate and toss me until the nearest moving motor vehicle.

Due free said...

Thanks Snobby for another excellent Outside article.

Al said...

I'm glad you got a ride in, Mr Snob. A bike ride is great for the morale and puts you in a better place. Plus you have that whole Outside magazine gig going for you. Ride bikes, drink beer, whatever.

Joe Strummer said...

Go straight to hell boys

leroy said...

I rode my Milwaukee with mismatched fenders the first winter and it seems to have forgiven me even though my matching set now consists of strap on fenders. The fancy pair I ordered for it required some bending for the front (easy enough) and some cutting for the rear (which I just never got around to).

Last time I cleaned the bike, I noticed an index issue; it wouldn't shift into the small cog. (My dog refers to the small cog as terrier incognito for me. At least it sounded like terrier incognito. I don't know what he was getting at.)

I rode the bike over the Manhattan Bridge to Off the Bridge and Qian fixed a slightly bent derailleur while I waited. The bike now shifts better than ever. It's a pleasure to ride.

But I'm still not all that familiar with the small cog.

bad boy of the south said...

Leroy,glad that you're cognizant about your Milwaukee.

huskerdont said...

Spokey, leave hitch rack on all the time. Problem solved.

Anonymous said...

Jan Heine's whatpressureyourunning formulas can tell you that a bigger tire in the back actually makes a lot of sense, especially considering it carries 3/4 of the weight while the front only carries 1/4.

J.J. Beckman said...

My touring bike currently has a 40 spoke rear wheel and a 48 in front... somehow the entire thing still works