Friday, December 13, 2019

Tan-Walled And Fully Vested

Yesterday I flogged my latest Outside column about gravel riding:

And in it I mentioned how you totally have to use tanwall tires now.

Well, when things become cool it's only natural that people take them to the extreme.  First tattoos become fashionable, and eventually everyone got full sleeves.  Then facial hair made a comeback, and now every Johnny-Fresh-Sleeves is walking around Brooklyn with the full Rip Van Winkle.  And tires are no exception, which is why the tanwall is now wrapping its way around the whole damn tire:

Yes, that's right, it's a total tire inversion--a tanwall tread with a black sidewall.  I'm not sure I understand the point of a "race day"-only clincher tire.  (I assume it's a clincher because it doesn't say otherwise.)  If you wanted special tires just for racing wouldn't you go all the way and use tubulars?  Meanwhile, seems to me there's plenty of race-worthy clinchers out there that will also hold up fine for daily riding--including the Donelly LCVs I've been using, which have been holding up well, feel great, and come in tanwall:

Then again, as a sub-mediocre bike racer who can barely hang on to the Cat 3s I'm probably not in a position to judge.  Perhaps the rolling resistance is so stunningly low that they're worth it, and if so I look forward to a new season of getting dropped by riders with photonegative tanwalls, white shoes with black socks (or vice versa), and reverse mohawks.

Speaking of products I'm trying out, you may recall that Pearl Izumi recently outfitted me from the waist up and from the neck down, and since then I've been wearing the ensemble fairly regularly, including today:

The getup consists of this jersey:

This base layer:

And this vest:

Which I'm sure you'll agree gives me the abdomen of a crocodile:


Uncanny, isn't it?

Anyway, here were the conditions today:

40 degrees American is pretty much my vest cut-off, so I was pushing it today in the name of style.  Nevertheless, I was mostly pretty comfortable, though I was feeling a bit chilled by the end of the ride.

I should also mention that I've been testing the anti-stink properties of the merino this week, and as of now I think I've got three rides in all this stuff without washing (h/t to the Montgolfier Brothers.)  Now, depending on your own habits, you're either thinking, "Eeew!" or "Only three rides!?!"  Either way, it doesn't seem to be stinky yet, though admittedly when it's this cold I'm not sweating very much.  Anyway, I'll continue to monitor the situation, and hopefully I don't get some kind of skin condition.

Indeed, overall my only complaint about these vestments is that the neck is too tight when I'm fully zipped.  However, this is probably a simple matter of needing to size up.  When I rode with the people from Pearl Izumi they eyeballed me for a medium, which is what I usually wear in jerseys and vests, though maybe this stuff is made for sickly roadies and not hale fellows such as myself.  Or I just have a freakish crocodile neck.  Either way, if you're in the market, measure twice and order once.

Finally, it's that time of year when people get to be really smug about how they got their Christmas tree home:
Yeah, but are you riding a bike made out of Festivus poles?

Fire up the Strava for the Feats of Strength!


HDEB said...

Only semi-recently did I finally have to retire my 1995ish Panaracer Smoke and Dart Magic's after thousands of fun miles. Those were the all tan one's and they rocked : )

P. Bateman said...

see my vest, see my vest, made from real gorilla chest...

see this hat, twas my cat...

happy riding on your tanwalls Tan T

NYCHighwheeler said...

I know you don't generally cover mid-west stuff much, but since you are referencing Dirty Kanza, I thought you might also have some insight into the current controversy regarding RAGBRAI. Apparently, the former director was fired by the Des Moines Register (Gannett/USAToday), and decided to throw his own ride across Iowa as a replacement for RAGBRAI! The Iowa Bicycle Coalition, among others, endorsed this new ride, named Iowa's Ride. Iowa's Ride was changed to the week before RAGBRAI, and now crosses the state in the opposite direction.

The situation is still evolving, although things are becoming more set in stone as both rides begin announcing vendors, supports, routes, etc.

Will one ride destroy the other? Make Iowa twice as great for cyclists? Rip the entire nation to shreds? Any insights would be welcome!

Anonymous said...


Nina Paley said...

I'm so happy to see the return of more frequent Bike Snob posts, like in the olden days. Transportation Alternatives' loss is our gain.

Grump said...

You forgot to mention that gravel bikes need to be equipped with a 1X, single ring system, along with a cassette with at least a 42 tooth cog on it (for those "hills" with a 3% grade)

Anonymous said...

Grump - it's the old 42 X 21 but reversed!!! Same s--t, different marketing BS.

Anonymous said...

I was sitting in the reading room taking my morning Schiff, and it occurred to me-I have usually had three to five fixed or singlespeed bikes at a time, but rarely more than one with gears. And that bike has always had a triple crank with seven cogs out back, and almost always friction shifters. I have never felt deprived or disadvantaged by this arrangement.

Don't get me wrong. All bikes good. Run what you like, whether chosen for performance, esthetics, or because you want to be one of the cool kids. I ride what I like and I like what I ride. Hope y'all like your ride too.

Beck the biker said...

Gumwall tires. Euro sizing is like teenage fashion. They need to 'right-size' riding clothes for the US rider. Am i really an italian XXL? Americans must look like Saasquatchs on European holiday. Pebble grade is important, some gravel almost seems faster than pavement. Like the clay courts at the French Open with a little bit of dampness - slick! and then there's the commonly found Western, 3 inch minus and ballast stone gravels. Pretty damn chunky. Gumwalls and ballast stone don't really get along, unless the tire's got a lot of ply. Still some gravel bike parsing -650bx38 is pretty tame, 650B plus is chunky.. being done in the industry before the 21c HP tire bike returns front and center, which are probably also faster in Zwift.

Seattle lone wolf said...

So did the Renovo frame weigh the same as a duck?

Anonymous said...

The Allegany trail, which runs from the western terminus of the C&O canal, west to Yinzerstan, is fine gravel laid on an abandoned railbed. It carries a pretty good grade. I've seen beach cruisers descending on the stretch from Frostburg, MD to Cumberland at what had to have been close to 40 m.p.h. on fat balloon tires.

And I'm sure 21c tires on a bike three sizes to small, piloted by some starving Italian on fresh asphalt will roll pretty fast. On mixed terrain on a properly sized bike with generous clearance and ridden by a middle-aged standard-sized American of average ability? Well, I've done it, but I didn't see the sense in it then and I'm damned if I see it now.

Your mileage may vary.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 7:31am,

How is a wide gearing range "marketing BS?"

--Tan Tenovo

Anonymous said...

The Boss @ 5.46
Not to be disagreeable, but a single 22 tooth with a cassette spread of 10-50 gives you a high of 59 gear inches and a low of just under 12, using 27 inch wheels.

My Crosscheck with 52-42-24 and a spread of 14-34 yields a high of 100 gear inches which will actually get me somewhere and a low of 19, and frankly, I can walk faster.

Not saying the new stuff is bad or that what I run is better. I imagine a single with a YUGE spread would be quite useful in the woods. But for one bike, used for everything from trail riding to trips to the next city/county/ time zone, a triple with a decent spread is hard to beat. It just concerns me that the manufacturers seem to be phasing it out in their endless quest for planned obsolescence.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:37,

Typical 1x gearing is 40t x 11-42. Which works out to 100” tall and 25” low.

Regardless, triples aren’t going anywhere. I mean you want still get your 7 speed freewheels, and that’s been old news since like 1990.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 6:37am,

Who's using a single 22-tooth chainring?

Shimano's "gravel" group uses a 40 or a 42. If you use that with an 11-46 that's pretty close to what you're using. (My Jones has a 30-tooth chainring with an 11-50 I believe, which obviously yields a much lower gear.)

I don't think triple's going away. Shimano still offers Deore and Tiagra in triple. (I rode a bike with new Tiagra recently--albeit a double--and thought it was excellent.) Then of course there are the "aftermarket" options. At the same time the single-ring stuff is excellent, and on the mountain bike side anyway it's stunningly inexpensive and reliable. And it really doesn't make sense for these companies to sell triple-ring versions of their race-oriented groups when: 1) the single- and double-ring stuff gives such a wide gearing range; and 2) the "lower"-end stuff that comes in triple is so good.

Considering it's equally easy to build up a traditional triple-ring steel bike and an in-vogue single-ring crabon gravel bike I'd say the bike consumer has it better than ever before.

--Tan Tenovo

TheSweetCyclists said...

Interested to see your thoughts on the PEARL iZUMi gear. We reviewed some of the same items on our site as well and were impressed with the quality. It's a big step up from the cheap PI plastic shell I've been using for years.

Anonymous said...

The Boss @ 7:26

Snob, I ain't here to fight. Just like to hear about what other folks are running, and maybe share a little about what works for me. Probably a lot of folks in my boat.

Anonymous said...

I thought black was the dumbest color choice for cycling clothing but it has now been surpassed. That silver vest is the perfect color to blend into fog, clouds, road spray, and concrete. I hope you are at least running a blinkie light.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 1:53pm,

Who's fighting? Certainly not me! Just wanted to clarify as you seemed to be misunderstanding what gearing people were using on single-ring drivetrains.

Anonymous 3:21pm,

Okay, you I'm fighting with. Yeah, I'm real worried about blending in with road spray. Get over yourself.

--Tan Tenovo

Anonymous said...

The Boss @ 6:11

My bad; I took the data from specs on a mountain bike from The Trek Bicycle Making Company. Yes, I can see where such a setup would be useful with a 36 or a 40; something in that range. Might even look into it if I ever wear through all this vintage kit I have laying around.

Truth be told, my dream setup (for my beloved and trusty Crosscheck) is a Rohloff hub. With the Albatross bar, mudguards and sprung Brooks it would be like a British roadster on steroids.

huskerdont said...

"I thought black was the dumbest color choice for cycling clothing but it has now been surpassed. "


Leecachu said...

Snobby, believe it or not, Pheonix is right around that temp this morning, 39 deg. Do you use anything special to keep your fingers warm? That seems to be my biggest issue during winter. I manage to keep my core warm with my hand-me-down running jacket.

Matt said...

I'm still laughing (out loud) at the crocodile shot which does indeed resemble the PI vest (or versa visa...not sure which is more appropriate) on earth do you find (and then come up with) this stuff Tan??

My current mtb came with the SRAM 1x setup...I bought it as it was a FANTATIC deal (a 1 yr old demo bike for less than half price)...I totally intended to ride it a bit and then put a double ring on it, as my previous mtb has the standard Shimano triple. Didn't take long riding it (32 ring w/ the SRAM 10-42 cassette) to realize screw the double...the 1x system ROCKS! (the only downside is bigger jumps between gears...if you can live w/ that then forget multi-ring systems). I did switch my mtb system to the 12 spd Eagle w/ the 10-50 cassette early this year...and BAM...nothing else I could want...shifts like a dream and that huge 50t gear is the bomb for long steep climbs! (and they did it by adding the gear, not rearranging the same old cassette w/ a bigger top gear and then the jumps between gears are that much's the same exact 10-42 11 spd cassette w/ the 50 added making it a 12 spd...freaking brilliant!)

I will also add (and I have absolutely no connection w/ the company and such) that Absolute Black has finally figured out how to make oval rings that really work! I run the 30t oval on my 1x mtb and as soon as I put it on I started PR'ing all the climbs (Strava). I can't imagine going back to round...and I think they now have rings for doubles. Nuff said.

Skidmark said...

@ Matt 9:29am, Science actually requires you do now go back to round rings and repeat the experiment.

1904 Cadardi said...



Yourrealcousin said...

Rohloff hub can be an expensive nightmare. . .I am a handy person who bought one and sold it at a loss. Nuvinci is the best that I have used and 1/3 to half the price