Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bike 01 : First Ride Of The Season ... and punctures

Well, last week I went out for an hour or so. And today I rode for two hours. I covered close to thirty miles. Not bad considering ...

I was using my road bike, the Trek 1200. As I've mentioned before, I ride a frame smaller than normally recommended for someone of my height - 1.90m / 6ft 3". This means the seatpin is pretty much at full extension, and I've rotated the stem 180 degrees to raise the bars about 50mm / 2in. I feel pretty comfortable with the result.

The real problem with cycling here isn't the standard of driving, although some drivers seem to have homicidal attitudes towards cyclists, but punctures.

I know one of the complaints in the UK is that roads aren't swept enough, but here they don't seem to be swept at all. Given too, that road surfaces aren't nearly as good as you might suppose in a country where the whole economy seems to be driven by the automobile, frequent punctures seem to be the cyclist's lot.

So this year I gave some thought to alleviating, if not solving the problem.

Tyres : I am trying Continental GP4000's. This tyre uses a new material, Vectran, which is supposed to be more resistant to punctures and have better rolling resistance than Kevlar.

In addition, I'm trying some new tyre sealant, Sludge, which has been specially formulated for application through presta valves. In the case of the Continental inner-tubes I am using, the core of the valve unscrews anyway, making application even easier.

On the road, the extra 50gms of sealant in each tyre feels insignificant, but the Contis are a revelation. Despite being pumped up to 120psi, they don't seem to have the teeth-rattling effect my other tyres had at 100psi. Not only that, the tyres seem to hold their path well, even on tight corners. It will be interesting to see what they're like in the wet.

On the downside, the Contis are very expensive here - about the cost of some car tyres. You might get a better deal from PBK in the UK.

The 5 Boro Bike Tour is only a matter of a couple of weeks away ... I'd better keep this up.

* PS : Yes, I know how to spell tyres ...
* see my Bike Index here