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  1. #1
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    Testing one, two.

    What the screed below boils down to is that I just want to ride my bike more.


    In this instance, "more" does not refer to days per week nor even necessarily hours per day. Although both of those would also be nice.


    What I'm after is the ability to ride more feet per mile. On snow.



    Allow me to explain...


    Our backyard mountain receives copious quantities of snow every winter -- averaging over 300" and piling up close to 500" with some regularity. Today is December 12th and already over 100" has fallen this season. I was out this afternoon as another 5" came in, driven on a wind. Most well-adjusted funhogs would immediately jump in here and point me toward some phat powder skis and skins and suggest that I would enjoy myself more with those tools. And they'd have a point.



    But I'm not really interested in skiing anymore. I ski bummed in Crested Butte from '92 to '98, banging out 130+ days each of my first two seasons, and then 100+ days each season thereafter. Skiing is neat but I've nearly had my fill and moved on for many reasons.


    Anyhoo, our backyard mountain gets lots of snow. And while people flock here in droves to ride our trails in spring, summer, and fall, those same hordes are nowhere in evidence when winter arrives. So these snowbound trails don't get much traffic -- nowhere near enough to keep them packed in and consistently rideable.



    When you have a low-moisture content alpine/continental snowpack that is constantly being refreshed and not enough traffic to adequately compress it between storms, you get trails that are soft, punchy, difficult to ride. At best. More often they're drifted over with wind affected ball bearings, or completely buried under cold smoke.


    To the end of being able to ride more, I experiment with new ideas every chance I get. Usually that means ever wider rims and tires, such that I've had a series of custom snowbikes made over the past 20+ years. Sometimes it means riding whichever rims and tires you have, but experimenting with pressures. Sometimes it means ignoring the rolling bits and focusing on/learning about how geometry can make poor conditions more rideable. Other times it means ignoring all but the minutia, and seeing where you can get with that.


    And, quite honestly, sometimes it just doesn't matter, because the snow is too deep, soft, fresh, to do anything other than push your bike through it. When riding locally I have the luxury of checking weather reports daily and thusly keeping tabs on what conditions are doing. If I know a foot of fresh is en route then I know better than to try to ride the next day or two.


    But when I head to Alaska -- as I've done every year for more than 20 years now -- both the route and schedule are set, so I just have to embrace whatever weather and trail conditions happen. Having the floatiest bike and the wherewithal to make proper use of it are critical.



    For the past four seasons I've been on the same chassis -- built by Whit @ Meriwether and dubbed "Brrrrrly."


    Click that last link and you'll understand a bit more about what makes sense for riding the kind and quantity of snow we have in our backyard. Click this one if you want the builders perspective. Keep in mind that this bike represents literal decades of trial, error, and evolution.



    And then realize that *both* Jeny and I have these bikes.



    That last bit is important because for the first time in a few years there are contenders to consider when it comes to uber-floaty fat tires. For the past four years I've ridden the venerable Vee 2XL in the PSC (white) compound. I run them tubeless on Kuroshiro 105mm carbon rims, usually at pressures so low that they fail to register on even the best modern gauges. Nothing else commercially made comes close to the float this combo provides.


    But now Terrene is offering their Johnny 5 meats, and after installing and riding a set I'm finding lots to like about them. And Terrene is also offering a writ-large B Fat tire that, when installed on the new ENVE hoops, might just be worth more than a passing glance.



    So, over the past few weeks and the next little while we'll be riding all of the above on our Meriwethers, on our backyard fluff as well as further afield, swapping bikes often mid-ride so that we can get a sense for which combo's work best when, at what pressures, and why. We've even invited a few snow-savvy friends to come join us on these test missions, partially because they're our friends and it's fun to ride with friends! But also because it's nice to get second, third, and fourth opinions to ensure that the conclusions you've drawn are both scientific and accurate.



    Bringing this whole thing back to where it started, what I'm after here is the ability to ride more. Faster isn't of particular interest, although since riding is faster than walking, then anything that keeps us pedaling will ultimately prove faster than the alternative.


    Thanks for checkin' in. Don't hesitate with questions.
    Last edited by mikesee; 12-13-2018 at 12:49 PM.

  2. #2
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    Great read...and look forward to follow ups.
    Living on the MA/NH border....my snows can be very different.
    We had 8ish inches of mashed taters 3 weeks ago and now frozen dirt and ice.
    Wheels with 2XLs, J5 studded, and Dillinger5 studded sit waiting the next snow.......which will happen when it feels like it. The J5s are the new untried weapon...
    Options are great ....until I pick the wrong one

  3. #3
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    I'm amazed at your continued passion and commitment to finding the best human-powered solution, Mike.

    I'm not a big fan of working really hard and going really slow, but I also will not stop riding, so I groom my own trails.

    Testing one, two.-nightgroomer.jpg

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    I tought maybe puting a foot long ski, 6 in wide under the front tire would be a way to open trails, making 2-4 passes then just ride my Bud/Lou studded wich are pretty much filling my Specialized Hellga small with 90 mm. I might retire in 1-2 years so presently i open on snowshoes.

  5. #5
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    So what are your thoughts on the J5s?
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  6. #6
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    I'm beginning to suspect that the answer may not be wider tyres than currently available. We're already stretching out Q factors close to the limit.

    Maybe the solution has been under our noses for the last 30 years as done by Jean Naud




    Riding through windblown soft desert sand is very similar to fresh snow at times, and spreading the load of the rider has to help somewhat.

    Alternatively a quad.
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  7. #7
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    OMG, I clicked those links and damn that tire is ridiculous. But now I understand better why you need so much flotation and a custom bike.

    We simply donít have that kind of snow in the East. I should know because I also am a long time skier (spent 25 years skiing up to 45 days/year).

    But I do wonder about the limits of Q factor although a wide Q factor does not bother me.


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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike View Post
    I'm beginning to suspect that the answer may not be wider tyres than currently available. We're already stretching out Q factors close to the limit.

    Maybe the solution has been under our noses for the last 30 years as done by Jean Naud




    Riding through windblown soft desert sand is very similar to fresh snow at times, and spreading the load of the rider has to help somewhat.

    Alternatively a quad.
    Spreading the load that way seems questionable. Yes you will float, but will the rear wheel bite with the riderís weight so far up front. Climbing will be even worse I think.


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  9. #9
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    I will gladly come out and prepack and ride your trails before you....

    for the right price

    ..and I would also consider coming out just to hang, ride, and learn from you and live in my car!!!!
    Go practice. Figure it out. - Fleas

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by blizzard_mk View Post
    I'm amazed at your continued passion and commitment to finding the best human-powered solution, Mike.

    I'm not a big fan of working really hard and going really slow, but I also will not stop riding, so I groom my own trails.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I've ridden some of 'em. Thanks for what you do.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    So what are your thoughts on the J5s?

    I think I need a lot more time on it to be able to opine intelligently.

    Thus far I've got ~15 hours on it, and another 15 hours on the 2XL on those same days. Do a ride on one bike, swap bikes, complete the same lap. It can tell you a lot, but conditions change so fast that you might not notice some key component having morphed.

    Best way to do it is to have a riding partner, and swap bikes back and forth every few minutes.

    A string of riding partners are moving this way -- started with tonight's ride, actually -- and for the next few weeks, such that we'll have the ideal testing scenario.
    Last edited by mikesee; 12-14-2018 at 06:23 PM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    I think I need a lot more time on it to be able to opine intelligently.

    Thus far I've got ~15 hours on it, and another 15 hours on the 2XL. Do a ride on one bike, swap bikes, complete the same lap. It can tell you a lot, but conditions change so fast that you might not notice some key component having morphed.

    Best way to do it is to have a riding partner, and swap bikes back and forth every few minutes.

    A string of riding partners are moving this way -- started with tonight's ride, actually -- and for the next few weeks, such that we'll be have the ideal testing scenario.
    Normally, I'd be giving a bunch of ride reports about soft conditions with the snow we got, but now I'm dead in the water recovering from surgery. I probably put at least 50hrs or more on them, simply riding damn near every day while I could. Got several softer rides on some fresh snow, but never deep enough to have any real idea of soft-snow conditions. Hopefully that info comes from someone pretty soon. I have a wheelset with the D5s too, so I can swap back and forth relatively fast, but not on the same ride, and not for a month or two. All in all, they seem more evolutionary than revolutionary considering what else is out there, but absolutely going in the right direction.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Normally, I'd be giving a bunch of ride reports about soft conditions with the snow we got, but now I'm dead in the water recovering from surgery. I probably put at least 50hrs or more on them, simply riding damn near every day while I could. Got several softer rides on some fresh snow, but never deep enough to have any real idea of soft-snow conditions. Hopefully that info comes from someone pretty soon. I have a wheelset with the D5s too, so I can swap back and forth relatively fast, but not on the same ride, and not for a month or two. All in all, they seem more evolutionary than revolutionary considering what else is out there, but absolutely going in the right direction.

    And we have more or less the opposite -- so much snow that we're riding at base (sub 1psi) pressures all the time, and still walking a fair bit.

    Comparing them to D5 seems silly -- different design/intent to each.

    Mostly agreed on evolutionary.

  14. #14
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    Sorry to hear about you not riding and recovering from surgery. Iím waiting for my scheduling for surgery which will likely be late Jan or feb. gonna be tough for me not to ride as this is my favourite part of the season. Send tips my way if you got any. Iím also waiting to for my new frame to arrive to try the J5 - hopefully Iíll get a few rides before Iím out of commission.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    And we have more or less the opposite -- so much snow that we're riding at base (sub 1psi) pressures all the time, and still walking a fair bit.

    Comparing them to D5 seems silly -- different design/intent to each.

    Mostly agreed on evolutionary.
    No, conditions are finally prime, lots of new snow, dense packed on a good base, great powder, etc. I just can't take advantage of it.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    No, conditions are finally prime, lots of new snow, dense packed on a good base, great powder, etc. I just can't take advantage of it.
    Yes, conditions in Anchorage are finally what they used to be like years ago. The new snow definitely got the masses out. Was out enjoying it last night, a couple of short incline pitches on Speedway and in Mirkwood caused my D5 rear tire spin out. I kept thinking out more mass and a more aggressive tire like the J5. We have the same 90mm carbon rims, if you get a chance can you measure the width of that combo please. I'd just like to compare them to my D5's, which are my current go-to tire for softer conditions. And any idea about true weights? Website says studded ~1800 grams.

    Thanks, and I hope you recover soon. Had rotator cuff surgery a year and a half ago and missed an entire winter of biking, just killed me. Spend lots of time in the garage on bike maintenance.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by EndoRando View Post
    Yes, conditions in Anchorage are finally what they used to be like years ago. The new snow definitely got the masses out. Was out enjoying it last night, a couple of short incline pitches on Speedway and in Mirkwood caused my D5 rear tire spin out. I kept thinking out more mass and a more aggressive tire like the J5. We have the same 90mm carbon rims, if you get a chance can you measure the width of that combo please. I'd just like to compare them to my D5's, which are my current go-to tire for softer conditions. And any idea about true weights? Website says studded ~1800 grams.

    Thanks, and I hope you recover soon. Had rotator cuff surgery a year and a half ago and missed an entire winter of biking, just killed me. Spend lots of time in the garage on bike maintenance.
    I did in the other thread, but I haven't in a while. They are sitting at pretty low pressure, maybe 3-4psi, but I have ridden them a whole bunch. I just got 120mm, from side knob to knob. But it's VERY soft out there as reported by most of the people at the parties the last two nights. The trails in Far North got more snow than many other parts of town, so what was on top of a decent base two days ago is now going to be soft. Lots of people are heading out today to snowshoe/ski and pack down some of the other trails.

    Studded at ~1800 sounds reasonable. Studs are usually pretty light and I think I got around 1730g with none.
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  18. #18
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    Thanks for taking the time Jayem. Appreciate the info.
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  19. #19
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    Guys, I live east and not far enough north that hearing the talk of snow like this makes me crazy.
    Colorado is my Mecca and I will make it there in my lifetime.

  20. #20
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    Progress.

    After a few weeks of banging out back to back solo laps, riding partners have begun to filter through town so that we can swap bikes repeatedly mid-ride. Doing so gives us better immediate feedback, and removes the possibility of quickly changing conditions affecting the conclusions we draw.





    We've ridden at all hours of the day and night, in conditions ranging from decent hardpack to baseless wind drifts, with paddle-track churned merengue as the middle ground. In other words, the whole gamut of local snow conditions, and often all in one ride.





    The sizing of the 2XL and Johnny 5 tires is very similar -- casing width is the same almost to the millimeter, but the 2XL stands 1/2" taller from ground to crest. That's a lot of added air volume. Does that added air volume matter? I think a better question to ask is: How much does that added volume matter?



    And I think the answer will likely be: It depends -- on the rider, their local snow conditions, the load they carry on the bike, as well as their expectations and desires.



    Over the next few weeks we'll continue drilling down and filtering through perceptions, ultimately relying on some combination of those perceptions as well as a few carefully thought out testing protocols to arrive at our conclusions.



    Thanks for checkin' in.


  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by 33red View Post
    I tought maybe puting a foot long ski, 6 in wide under the front tire would be a way to open trails, making 2-4 passes then just ride my Bud/Lou studded wich are pretty much filling my Specialized Hellga small with 90 mm. I might retire in 1-2 years so presently i open on snowshoes.

    Why? The rear wheel/tire is the limiter in deep snow conditions.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike View Post
    I'm beginning to suspect that the answer may not be wider tyres than currently available. We're already stretching out Q factors close to the limit.

    Maybe the solution has been under our noses for the last 30 years as done by Jean Naud



    Riding through windblown soft desert sand is very similar to fresh snow at times, and spreading the load of the rider has to help somewhat.

    Alternatively a quad.

    It might float better. No guarantee though.

    It will undoubtedly have far greater rolling resistance than a two-wheeled bike. I don't know many (well, not really any...) riders that are currently willing to even embrace the rolling resistance of the 2XL tires.

    Just trying to envision how you'd make the drivetrain work with a chain run that long. Yet more weight and resistance to mitigate/overcome.

    A quad also might float better. Or it might not. It'll also have additional rolling resistance challenges, as well as weight, not to mention an inability to use single-wide trails.

    Both of these suggestions are going to appeal to (and possibly benefit) the off-piste rider. Are there enough of us to support development?

    Right now the fatbike segment seems largely to be heading in the opposite direction.

  23. #23
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    Mikesee....
    I find it interesting that you say they are the same size....
    On 100mm rims....the J5 fits my Echo and Farley EX with 5mm on either side.
    The XXL won't get past 1/2 up the chain stays....way too. big.( I know you are running a little larger rims though)
    Interested in hearing more on them...
    May head north to ride both on snow this week...

  24. #24
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    i have piles of clearance on my frames and forks, so i'm not going by that -- or a lack thereof.

    just measuring casing widths, which are ~a wash. but the height difference is real, and that's probably what's stuffing you.

    that or your blue grips.

  25. #25
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    You're torturing me! Any initial impression on flotation/traction in deep loose snow? I have the 2XL's on 100mm rims and run them near 0 psi in soft fresh snow but more than 4" of snow and they are no-go. Our trails are quite hilly, however. They can handle 6" on flat terrain, but very slowly. Wondering if by chance the Johnny 5's are any better; I would be surprised if they were.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by campykid View Post
    You're torturing me! Any initial impression on flotation/traction in deep loose snow? I have the 2XL's on 100mm rims and run them near 0 psi in soft fresh snow but more than 4" of snow and they are no-go. Our trails are quite hilly, however. They can handle 6" on flat terrain, but very slowly. Wondering if by chance the Johnny 5's are any better; I would be surprised if they were.

    Apologies in advance, but I'm not willing to put out a preliminary impression when it might cause people to spend $$$ (these tires aren't cheap), and when it could turn out to be an incorrect impression in just a few short weeks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    i have piles of clearance on my frames and forks, so i'm not going by that -- or a lack thereof.

    just measuring casing widths, which are ~a wash. but the height difference is real, and that's probably what's stuffing you.

    that or your blue grips.
    Nope...width. I get about 10mm difference at casing or knobs. But the Vee has a little time on it.....so maybe the J5 will blossom a little.
    The J5 looks small on the RSD Mayor after having a XXL in it.
    What ev.....It's good to have big options! Heading to snow on Wed to try them out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by the mayor View Post
    Nope...width. I get about 10mm difference at casing or knobs. But the Vee has a little time on it.....so maybe the J5 will blossom a little.
    The J5 looks small on the RSD Mayor after having a XXL in it.
    What ev.....It's good to have big options! Heading to snow on Wed to try them out.

    Bizarre. There might have been 4mm of difference last I checked, but that was before the J5's had been extensively ridden.

    Those tires are on the wife's bike, at the house, where no calipers live, so it might be a bit before I can measure them in their stretched state.

  29. #29
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    I really wish I had a chance to test the short stays that @mikesee is using. In my race this past weekend what seemed to be helping me was shifting my weight forward when climbing in an attempt to balance force front to rear. This would have me chasing a centimeter or two longer or perhaps moving my seat forward. Which seems the opposite of what Mikes extensive research has shown as effective.

    The J5s have plenty of tread to hold the snow so traction wasnít an issueóit was purely too much pedal force and weight on the rear at times in the soft stuff. I appeared to have an easier time climbing the same hill as others near me that I passed and other tracks I saw that while flat bottomed (possibly not over inflated) showed signs of slipping where I was able to avoid that.

    Very interested in this thread and Mikeís experiences.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flowby2wheels View Post
    ...it was purely too much pedal force

    There are so, so, so many little things that contribute to maintaining float *and* traction all at once. Body position on the bike is huge, quietness of upper body matters, tire size and pressure of course, and yes -- bike geometry. And even then sometimes when it seems you've got it all right you still end up spinning your tire and ultimately dabbing or walking.

    Which is probably why this niche has always been so compelling to me -- it's a never-ending outlet for my OCD...

    One thing I've clued into (with the help of my wife) is how effective certain hubs are at keeping rear wheel traction. Specifically, I laced a set of Onyx hubs for her a few weeks ago, and rode them the past few weeks while she was out of town. These hubs don't have the normal "harsh" engagement of almost every other hub, which means when you're in soft snow, leaning and ratcheting and erratically putting power down to stay on the bike, each pedal stroke doesn't hit as hard, and as such isn't as likely to break the rear tire's traction.

    It's not a massively noticeable thing, except when you're switching bikes back and forth and one has an Onyx hub and the other doesn't. And then it jumps out.

    Yesterday we swapped bikes a few times and when I started to mansplain this effect to my wife she finished my sentence -- she'd already picked up on it.

    It's nice to have every little advantage to stack the deck in your favor. But it's still snow, and you still gotta embrace walking.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Testing one, two.-img_3337.jpg  


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    @ Mikesee, about the little details, i might be wrong but maybe my short crank arms are a positive to ride in the deep and keeping traction when i expect to spin. My frame is an Hellga small wich is the woman design of the fatboy by Specialized. The gearing is also helping i think. With 22 in front and 42 in the rear i can apply very little pressure and roll very slow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 33red View Post
    @ Mikesee, about the little details, i might be wrong but maybe my short crank arms are a positive to ride in the deep and keeping traction when i expect to spin. My frame is an Hellga small wich is the woman design of the fatboy by Specialized. The gearing is also helping i think. With 22 in front and 42 in the rear i can apply very little pressure and roll very slow.
    That is part of it, but anything you can do to make it smoother helps. The icier it is, the more I find this is an issue, but that's where slow becomes fast, avoid jerky movements, etc.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    A quad also might float better. Or it might not. It'll also have additional rolling resistance challenges, as well as weight, not to mention an inability to use single-wide trails.
    Very interesting read and thread!

    Going to throw in some comments coming from a completely different perspective as I have both ATV riding experience on snow in the CO mountains and have had my fat bike for about 1 year. I will also note that I've been consistently MTB'ing since the late 80s.

    I do understand when you're saying quad, the context you're talking about is a 4 wheeled pedal cycle, so I'll use ATV for the ICE motor driven variety.

    ATV riding in CO snow can be very challenging as well although not quite as challenging as fat bikes on fresh snow. Concerning forward progress, ATVs like to dig into the substrate to gain traction. The effect is no different when riding on snow even when running really low psi. What is common is to end up getting high centered in deep snow and it will happen a lot. Sure, an ATV will weigh substantially more than something like a quad cycle would, but the point I'm going after is how the tires have a tendency to "dig" to get traction. Now would a quad cycle have a tendency to get high centered? I'm thinking not as likely as the designs and overall weights are completely different. But, I suppose there is a slight possibility of a quad cycle getting high centered. Worse for a quad cycle, since it will likely have a high center of gravity, would be traversing an off camber slope as a quad cycle will be "tippy". On an ATV, traversing off-camber slopes require the ability for the rider to shift weight high side or you are likely to roll the bike.

    Back to the traction difficulties, I notice the same on my fat bike when I'm out riding fully snow covered singletrack here in the CO mountains, traction while ascending can be an issue. I will state the information you've provided in this thread is an approach far beyond anything else I've read or had experience with concerning fat bikes. But, I'm starting to wonder if maybe combinations of float along with different tire tread design could help. You've been playing with the float factor but curious if a paddle style tread design would benefit forward progress? Think of it in what ATVs and motox bikes use in the desert. They use paddle style tread design on the rear wheels along with very low psi.

    Anyway, just wanted to add a few thoughts. I have no idea if my thoughts are even valid here, just wanted to put them out there.

    EDIT: Do want to mention I've never come across a true paddle style fat tire but would be nice if there could be some influence somewhere to experiment with them. Not sure if a design as such would make them too heavy though.

    EDIT EDIT: Come to think of it, snow machines also use a paddle concept to maintain forward progress. For ATVs you can buy tracks which work a lot better on snow. I don't have any and have never used them but those who do, say they are much, much better in the snow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    One thing I've clued into (with the help of my wife) is how effective certain hubs are at keeping rear wheel traction. Specifically, I laced a set of Onyx hubs for her a few weeks ago, and rode them the past few weeks while she was out of town.
    Is your wife's Meriwether 217mm rear spacing like yours or 197mm (perhaps offset)? Just curious if you had to source a custom Onyx hub.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Sloth View Post
    Worse for a quad cycle, since it will likely have a high center of gravity

    curious if a paddle style tread design would benefit forward progress? Think of it in what ATVs and motox bikes use in the desert. They use paddle style tread design on the rear wheels along with very low psi.

    Not sure why a quad cycle would have to have a high center of gravity? From what I've seen of existing quads and trikes they have a pretty low CoG.

    As to paddle treads, they're good at propelling us forward, and at braking, but not good to borderline terrible on off cambers/sidehill situations.

    In the early days of experimenting with fatbikes a few people took the existing Nokian Gazzaloddi tread and snipped tread blocks until they effectively had a paddle setup. I never saw anyone do it to a second tire after experimenting with the first.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BobShort View Post
    Is your wife's Meriwether 217mm rear spacing like yours or 197mm (perhaps offset)? Just curious if you had to source a custom Onyx hub.

    They're both 217. I have another set of 150/217 Onyx hubs here, awaiting the 27.5" ENVE rims to compare against these 26" wheels.

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    I think the success of Bud/Lou is the proper paddles.
    The front saves you in off camber.
    The rear climbs like a charm.
    2 distincts goals = 2 differents designs.
    No compromise. Well in Quebec many love them, others want to roll fast on well groomed tracks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    Not sure why a quad cycle would have to have a high center of gravity? From what I've seen of existing quads and trikes they have a pretty low CoG.
    Ah, I wasn't thinking recumbent style quad cycle, was envisioning more of an upright seating position. But you're right in that recumbent style would have a lower center of gravity. However, off-camber could still present an issue dependent on the degree of slope.


    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    In the early days of experimenting with fatbikes a few people took the existing Nokian Gazzaloddi tread and snipped tread blocks until they effectively had a paddle setup.
    No way the Nokian Gazzaloddi could create an effective true paddle tire setup and it would be costly to do it right by properly creating one. Compare to actual paddle tires and there is quite a bit of difference of what could be done with a Nokian Gazzaloddi.

    Even a Surly Lou is at best 1/3 of what a paddle tire is.

    But yes, point made as to it is probably a non-starter.

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    The J5 tread seems suited to compressing snow into ridges and providing traction with the large blocks making big enough imprints to hold (or they use the studs to dig into icy hardpack). My initial theory is that the perpendicular blocks on the edges are useful for controlling side slip and they make it quite clear if your pressure is low enough with a tell tale track.

    These ridges can hold but a jerk through the pedals (onyx would cushion that) or any kind of mashing would potentially shear these ridges turning the big tread into a shovel and instantly bogging down and killing forward progress.

    I have two bikes with good onyx hubs and two with dt240s/18pt. The DT hubs donít like sloppy pedaling and I have found a higher, smoother cadence to be required to keep my fatbike moving efficiently with them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 33red View Post
    I think the success of Bud/Lou is the proper paddles.
    The front saves you in off camber.
    The rear climbs like a charm.
    2 distincts goals = 2 differents designs.
    No compromise. Well in Quebec many love them, others want to roll fast on well groomed tracks.
    True.
    This particular combination of front/rear knob patterns was pioneered by the (arguably) most legendary MTB tires of all times: Panaracer Smoke (1991) and Dart (1992).

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Espen W View Post
    True.
    This particular combination of front/rear knob patterns was pioneered by the (arguably) most legendary MTB tires of all times: Panaracer Smoke (1991) and Dart (1992).
    Those bring back great memories.
    Get fAt, Stay fAt, Ride fAt
    Doctor recommended...

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    Quote Originally Posted by BansheeRune View Post
    Those bring back great memories.

    They make me think of 135mm stems, 22" wide bars, canti brakes, endo's, helmet covers, and neon.

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    Paddles rely on reaction, instead of traction. Ten lbs of sand/snow sent reward, is ten pounds of force forward.
    To take advantage of this, you need horsepower, and lots of it. A human powered vehicle just won't be able to take advantage of that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KThaxton View Post
    Paddles rely on reaction, instead of traction. Ten lbs of sand/snow sent reward, is ten pounds of force forward.
    To take advantage of this, you need horsepower, and lots of it. A human powered vehicle just won't be able to take advantage of that.
    No way! The backwards mounted Farmer John on the rear of my Shogun Prairie breaker 2 would often cause the bars to be ripped from my hands when I stood up and stomped the cranks. If I could manage to hold on Iíd loop out. Bicycles are too light weight for paddle tires.

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    One thing I've clued into (with the help of my wife) is how effective certain hubs are at keeping rear wheel traction. Specifically, I laced a set of Onyx hubs for her a few weeks ago, and rode them the past few weeks while she was out of town. These hubs don't have the normal "harsh" engagement of almost every other hub, which means when you're in soft snow, leaning and ratcheting and erratically putting power down to stay on the bike, each pedal stroke doesn't hit as hard, and as such isn't as likely to break the rear tire's traction.
    As I remember, at one time, you were detracting the onyx hubs for the 'wind-up' that you experienced when standing upon the pedals at a standstill.

    Seems like that quality has a positive side?
    "Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway" John Wayne

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    They make me think of 135mm stems, 22" wide bars, canti brakes, endo's, helmet covers, and neon.

    haha! How else were we gonna ride in handcuffs??
    Get fAt, Stay fAt, Ride fAt
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    Quote Originally Posted by BansheeRune View Post
    Those bring back great memories.
    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    They make me think of 135mm stems, 22" wide bars, canti brakes, endo's, helmet covers, and neon.
    Goes back a little further for me, the Cyclepro Snakebelly, c.1979...

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    Quote Originally Posted by one piece crank View Post
    Goes back a little further for me, the Cyclepro Snakebelly, c.1979...

    Cyclepro and Mitsuboshi...
    Get fAt, Stay fAt, Ride fAt
    Doctor recommended...

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    Quote Originally Posted by one piece crank View Post
    Goes back a little further for me, the Cyclepro Snakebelly, c.1979...

    I remember snakebelly's from my bmx bike, not mtb's.

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    The snakebelly era is when a few of us started Adventuring on our BMX bikes. This was before Mtn bikes hit the market. Weíd slap on a tiny front sprocket from a kidís bike, wrap some rope around the top tube, and always ran a snakebelly rear. Front was usually 20Ē but we did try 24Ē and 26Ē.

    Hey - thanks for the long-term comparison of these two fat tires. I really look forward to future info...

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    My Ď85 Sakai Bigfoot came stock with snakebelly tires.

    A better comparison would be a side by side photo of the J5 and 2XL. It would be nice to see how they compare in size. The J5 appears to have a lower profile than the 2XL.

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by one piece crank View Post
    The snakebelly era is when a few of us started Adventuring on our BMX bikes. This was before Mtn bikes hit the market. Weíd slap on a tiny front sprocket from a kidís bike, wrap some rope around the top tube, and always ran a snakebelly rear. Front was usually 20Ē but we did try 24Ē and 26Ē.

    Hey - thanks for the long-term comparison of these two fat tires. I really look forward to future info...
    the good old days!! For me it was a Mongoose Supergoose with Tioga Comp 3's on it....good times
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    LET IT SNOW!

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    Testing one, two.-e5964f69-7e3d-4b1c-a404-2b3d9a3f2f9d.jpg

    Cake eater 27.5x4.5 on 80mm external rim on the left, J5 on 90mm rim in center, 2XL on 90mm rim on the right.

    All three are at about 15 psi here. J5 had been mounted tubeless overnight but not ridden. CE is tubeless and had been ridden a handful of times in a few weeks. 2XL has a tube in this photo but had been ridden tubeless a few times previously over the course of two years.
    Last edited by Willum; 12-21-2018 at 08:56 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Willum View Post
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	E5964F69-7E3D-4B1C-A404-2B3D9A3F2F9D.jpg 
Views:	630 
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ID:	1230074

    Cake eater 4.5 on 80mm external rim on the left, J5 on 90mm rim in center, 2XL on 90mm rim on the right.

    Cool.

    Ridden/stretched?

    Tubeless? Similar pressures?

  55. #55
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    Good point, those variables had not been equalized between the three at the time of this photo. All three are at about 15 psi here. J5 had been mounted tubeless overnight but not ridden. CE is tubeless and had been ridden a handful of times in a few weeks. 2XL has a tube in this photo but had been ridden tubeless a few times previously over the course of two years.

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    Holy cow, that cake eater is huge then.

    That appears to be more than just a small difference in diameter.

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    Thanks for posting the comparison photo. Itís weird how huge the cake eater looks as the video below shows it being only 4.2Ē wide. I donít know what pressure they measured it at? The J5 looks tiny by comparison and it also appears to be quite a bit smaller than the 2XL.


    https://youtu.be/WIUZNrZI6dg

  58. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willum View Post
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	E5964F69-7E3D-4B1C-A404-2B3D9A3F2F9D.jpg 
Views:	630 
Size:	259.1 KB 
ID:	1230074

    Cake eater 4.5 on 80mm external rim on the left, J5 on 90mm rim in center, 2XL on 90mm rim on the right.
    Is the Cake Eater 27.5" with the others being 26"?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeny View Post
    Is the Cake Eater 27.5" with the others being 26"?

    Yep, 27.5 x 4.5".

    I've got a pair stretching for this test, but I don't yet have the rims I plan to run them on. Tick, tock...

  60. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    Yep, 27.5 x 4.5".

    I've got a pair stretching for this test, but I don't yet have the rims I plan to run them on. Tick, tock...
    That's what I thought. Just wanted to make sure others realized that's the reason for the Cake Eater's huge diameter.

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    Holy Sh!t that 27.5 Cake Eater is HUGE!!!!

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    Wow! I was going to buy the 27.5 CE....but doubt it will fit in my RSD Mayor.
    Willum's photo also shows one of the big differences between the XXL and the J5....tread profile.
    The J5 has a much more rounded profile.

  63. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by mohrgan View Post
    Holy Sh!t that 27.5 Cake Eater is HUGE!!!!
    It's also closer to the camera.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

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    I edited the text accompanying my photo for clarity.

    Also, good point on the cake eater being closer to the camera. The wheel hubs were lined up with one another for this photo and the photo was taken about 2 feet from the closest point of the tires.

    I really appreciate Mikeseeís proposed testing approach of having multiple bikes on a ride so you can switch back and forth in the same conditions. I probably wonít be able to match that but Iíll be comparing these tires to one another as well. Very interested to hear Mikeseeís thoughts.

    A couple of early impressions:

    - if you ride in an area with lots of ice, the J5ís stud count is almost an out-of-the-gate win. The 2XL wonít take grip studs, but the CE might.

    - do any of these tires steer as well as Bud on the front in snowy conditions? My early impression is ďnoĒ but Iíll continue to evaluate that.

    - all of these tires have their limits in soft snow. If youíre riding steepish hills and thereís more than 4-6 inches of untracked snow, youíll be doing some pushing.

    - would like to have seen more aggressive tread blocks to match the volume of the cake eater. There may be situations when the CE gives enough volume to ride in deeper snow, but not the tread blocks to control it. The nice thing about smaller tread blocks is that they help the big carcass roll faster when conditions arenít as rough, so it ainít all bad.

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    Drilling down.

    Several more days and nights worth of rides have happened, but no new snow has fallen. In a "normal" year there wouldn't have been enough traffic for us to ride at all thus far -- we're usually reliant on those poor saps that are gifted snowshoes to pack things down in the week between the two big upcoming holidays. Some confluence of factors has given us both ample snow and decent traffic to leave behind rideable trail, and no complaints have been heard.









    ^ Being able to stand and climb, on snow, is a novelty to us. Rare that things are zipped up tight enough to even think about it.





    Pete was feeling sprightly on an early morning ride, and gave in to the notion by powering out of the saddle as hard as he could for a few strokes. His rear tire broke loose -- loose snow being what it is, how could it not? -- and he damn near swapped ends before high-siding and slapping down on his shoulder. He got up and continued the ride, and even joined us again the day after, but you could tell he was suffering a bit.

    As Skippy likes to say, "Getting old isn't for sissies...".



    We've compared these two tires in a somewhat wide range of conditions thus far -- from base pressures (somewhere around .2 to .5psi) when churning through snowmachine fluffed merengue or 8" of drifts atop a semi-firm base, to ~2psi when riding hollow hardpack. That last is the kind where you're singing along at a decent clip, but always aware that the ephemeral crust could give way at any moment, swallow up your front wheel, and send you superman-style out the front door. The net effect is, I imagine, how a long-tailed cat feels in a room fulla sweet geezers in rocking chairs.

    Our trails simply don't get much better than this until spring thaw.



    Because I've been riding the 2XL tires full-time on snow for a few seasons, I'm pretty well accustomed to their good and bad habits. Their most admirable trait is how well they float compared to every other tire out there. And worst? Simply that they are slow on hardpack. To the end of speeding them up I snipped the middle 5 rows of tread blocks, leaving the two outer rows intact. This brought a compromise between soft-snow bite and hardpack efficiency, and I've adapted to it. It's far from perfect, but it's adequate to the task at hand. What would improve this tire even more would be for Vee to come out with a front specific tread -- something akin to Surly's Bud where this is virtually a carbon copy of Surly's Lou. Bud and Lou were arguably the best snow tires ever made for the conditions we see most, they are simply outclassed in size these days.

    Pete, Jeny, Creig and I have swapped bikes several times on different sections of trail, antennae tuned outward to sense minute differences as we traverse different varieties of snow. Thus far -- and yes I'm aware that this is far from scientific -- we agree that if there is a difference between the J5 with full tread height and the 2XL with snipped treads, it isn't big. As expected, the J5 is more grippy and thus more predictable when leaned, especially in corners. We are evenly split as to whether one feels faster than the other: Jeny and Pete slightly favor the J5, Creig and I feel the 2XL is a wee bit speedier.



    When we return from the holiday break we'll set up a controlled roll-down test to answer that question definitively -- at least for our backyard trails and conditions. And we'll introduce the ENVE wheels to the mix.



    Thanks for checkin' in.

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    Nice write up, Mike...as usual.
    I drove 2.5 hours into NH with multiple wheels/tires last week.
    Had XXLs on 90 rims, J5 on 100 rims and Dill5s on 65 rims.

    Got there to find 4 inches of new powder on top of snow that had a crust. You break through the crust and going nowhere fast. So much for testing off track.

    They had 12ish miles of Snowdog groomed single track that was white asphalt with the 4" of new snow on top, intertwined with endless groomed sled trails. Of course...the D5s were king there...but I know that tire well so didn't ride it much.

    I found the J5 rolled faster than the XXL on the groomed stuff..as expected. It also turned better because of the profile.

    The only places that were soft was a steep hill that had about 6 " of virgin powder drifted across. On that hill, the XXL tractored up while I had to run the J5 really low and it still slipped some. The D5 was a no go.

    There were a few churned up corners on sled trails....turning was about even on both big tires.

    So that's my 4 hour/ 22 mile test at one place that is very different from where you are.
    And it's warm and raining today....so it will be dirt here and Ice to the north tomorrow

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    Thanks for the reports.

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    I'll also add that after riding the J5 and the XXL on snow....I sold my Bud/Lou.
    If the J5(which are studded) and the XXL turn out to be a wash....the XXLs may hit the market also.
    Or not....

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    Simple visual.

    Just so that people understand what's being compared here.

    At left is the Terrene Johnny 5, which is a 26 x 5.0" tire, being run on a 105mm rim, tubeless, at 10psi.

    At center is the Terrene Cake Eater 27.5 x 4.5" tire, currently mounted and stretching on a 77mm rim, tubeless, at 10psi. I will eventually run this tire on an 89mm rim.

    At right is the Vee 2XL 26 x 5.05" tire, being run on a 105mm rim, tubeless, at 10psi.



    Although all are tubeless and at the same pressure, I'm not going to give measurements as yet because the two Terrene tires pictured here have yet to be ridden at all. Riding them causes them to stretch and grow several millimeters, especially when done at snow-low pressures.



    I think the overall height of the Cake Eater and 2XL will be a wash once the CE is installed and ridden on the wider rims I plan to test it on.


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    Wow part 2
    That CE tire looks very different in diameter than Willum's photo

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    I like your photo better than mine- easier to get em side by side without hubs!

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    Quote Originally Posted by the mayor View Post
    Wow part 2
    That CE tire looks very different in diameter than Willum's photo

    I suspect that's because the knobs on my 2XL's have been snipped. It presents shorter even if the air volume is unchanged.

    Also, one more pic for shits and wiggles: 45N D4 on a 65mm rim at left.* Can't believe I made it to Nome a few times on tires not quite that big.


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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    I suspect that's because the knobs on my 2XL's have been snipped. It presents shorter even if the air volume is unchanged.
    I meant the CE looks MUCH taller in Willum's pc....but about equal in yours.

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    Look at that tiny D4....hahahaha!
    Mike...do you a Endomorph to throw in for comparison?

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    Quote Originally Posted by the mayor View Post
    Look at that tiny D4....hahahaha!
    Mike...do you a Endomorph to throw in for comparison?
    Yes. Remind me after the holidays...

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    Yes. Remind me after the holidays...
    Enjoy your Holiday...
    Look forward to hearing more on the tires....
    No snow for a while here in MA

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    And....the J5, after 12 miles of riding at varied psi.....is now 120mm, knob to knob, on a 100mm rim.
    Just tried it on my Echo...it has about 4mm on either side. If it keeps growing.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by the mayor View Post
    I meant the CE looks MUCH taller in Willum's pc....but about equal in yours.
    In fact - they ARE to be about equal in height/diameter.
    And, for sure - the (uncut) 2XL is NOT smaller.

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    Quote Originally Posted by the mayor View Post
    And....the J5, after 12 miles of riding at varied psi.....is now 120mm, knob to knob, on a 100mm rim.
    Just tried it on my Echo...it has about 4mm on either side. If it keeps growing.....
    Could you provide an update if it keeps stretching out? My 2XL is 128mm wide on a 100mm wide rim. I measured the ID of the rim today and it was only 95mm wide. Iím not sure if this is typical of 100mm wide wheels?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowfat View Post
    Could you provide an update if it keeps stretching out? My 2XL is 128mm wide on a 100mm wide rim.
    My 2XL is about 132mm tread / 135+mm casing wide on a 105mm rim.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowfat View Post
    Could you provide an update if it keeps stretching out? My 2XL is 128mm wide on a 100mm wide rim. I measured the ID of the rim today and it was only 95mm wide. Iím not sure if this is typical of 100mm wide wheels?
    A rim's outer wall has to take up some of that space....so....
    My year old XXL is 128 on a 100 rim...just put them on 90 Nexties....they are 126

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    Amazed.

    Holiday travel and dumping snow put a hitch in our tire comparisons for a bit. Yet on the last few rides we've done the trails have been zipped up tight, courtesy of all those unlucky saps that found snowshoes under their yule log.

    The only noteworthy observation I can share from these last few rides is that immediately after swapping bikes to compare float, speed, and overall feel of the 2 tires we're scrutinizing, Jeny was quick to observe, "I'm amazed how much faster your bike feels than mine".



    To be clear to the point of redundancy, she's riding Johnny 5's on 105mm rims, I'm riding 2XL's on 105mm rims.

    I completely agreed with her statement -- my bike had considerably better glide on the fast-for-us surfaces.



    When we got back to the trailhead we gauged all 4 tires to make sure nothing was really 'off' that would skew our perceptions. Jeny's tires were both at 4.1 and mine both at 4.4 psi.

    When you consider that I outweigh her by at least 65#, you might conclude that I should be running *less* pressure to achieve the same combo of speed and float. And if our tires had exactly the same air volume that'd be correct.

    But the 2XL's are bigger. Only a few millimeters wider, but a *lot* taller. My suspicion has always been that that added air volume matters a lot in how well I can float at these relatively high pressures. Our observations on this set of rides seem to confirm that.

    Next step -- once the weather pattern settles a bit and we can count on consistent conditions for a few days in a row -- will be to get scientific with repeatable rolldown tests.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    Holiday travel and dumping snow put a hitch in our tire comparisons for a bit. Yet on the last few rides we've done the trails have been zipped up tight, courtesy of all those unlucky saps that found snowshoes under their yule log.

    The only noteworthy observation I can share from these last few rides is that immediately after swapping bikes to compare float, speed, and overall feel of the 2 tires we're scrutinizing, Jeny was quick to observe, "I'm amazed how much faster your bike feels than mine".



    To be clear to the point of redundancy, she's riding Johnny 5's on 105mm rims, I'm riding 2XL's on 105mm rims.

    I completely agreed with her statement -- my bike had considerably better glide on the fast-for-us surfaces.



    When we got back to the trailhead we gauged all 4 tires to make sure nothing was really 'off' that would skew our perceptions. Jeny's tires were both at 4.1 and mine both at 4.4 psi.

    When you consider that I outweigh her by at least 65#, you might conclude that I should be running *less* pressure to achieve the same combo of speed and float. And if our tires had exactly the same air volume that'd be correct.

    But the 2XL's are bigger. Only a few millimeters wider, but a *lot* taller. My suspicion has always been that that added air volume matters a lot in how well I can float at these relatively high pressures. Our observations on this set of rides seem to confirm that.

    Next step -- once the weather pattern settles a bit and we can count on consistent conditions for a few days in a row -- will be to get scientific with repeatable rolldown tests.
    Thanks for your info. Maybe 1 wins in acceleration and a different 1 wins in speed?
    Like an F1 dry tire, a wet tire and each customer might enjoy/prefer a tire depending on their weight? on where they ride often?

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    Think you need to look at that another way. When you swapped mid-ride, her 65lb less self was now on 0.3 more psi. Add more volume, triple whammy. That could be why faster/easier on these improved trails.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bme107 View Post
    Think you need to look at that another way. When you swapped mid-ride, her 65lb less self was now on 0.3 more psi. Add more volume, triple whammy. That could be why faster/easier on these improved trails.

    Lots of ways to look at it for sure.

    Re-installing the full-tread 2XL's today. 30" of snow on the trails late last week means it's sort of silly to even bother right now. Another snow hit due tomorrow, then maybe we can get some more time in up there later in the week.

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    Surviving.


    I had hoped that this update would include data culled from a few quantitative tests I have in mind to use to compare these tires.

    The reality is that we've gotten so much snow in the past few weeks that riding at all has been questionable. More than 100" of light and dry has fallen in January thus far, with over 30" of that just in the last 5 days.





    We did attempt to make it to the specific spot I have in mind for testing and data collection, but simply couldn't get there. For reference, there was a long track/paddle track sled sitting there that looked like it had just been extricated from a hole of it's own creation. Deep.



    Thus we retreated to one of the few places that gets enough traffic to still be rideable. No grooming happens in this zone: It's just packed by users, including us.



    Our pressures ranged from a maximum of 2.5psi to a minimum of about .6psi. The latter was mandatory for a few miles of mostly uphill trail on the way out.





    Feeling a little sheepish about riding and not "testing" per se, I asked Jeny how she felt about her current J5 tires compared to her old favorites Bud and Lou. She'd been on Bud/Lou for 3+ years, and wouldn't willingly give them up for anything as of last spring. Her response: "I don't miss them at all! These make riding more efficient, with more float, which means I'm working less hard to stay on top."



    That's a pretty significant data point from where I sit. Short months ago she'd have sooner ridden at minus 40 in a bikini than without Bud and Lou by her side.



    Forecast is for a few days of sun before the storms return. Hope to get back out and collect some hard data before then.



    Thanks for checkin' in.


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    damn...I am definitely living in the wrong part of the world...love the reports etc.!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    Feeling a little sheepish about riding and not "testing" per se, I asked Jeny how she felt about her current J5 tires compared to her old favorites Bud and Lou. She'd been on Bud/Lou for 3+ years, and wouldn't willingly give them up for anything as of last spring. Her response: "I don't miss them at all! These make riding more efficient, with more float, which means I'm working less hard to stay on top."
    I probably missed this in one of your many previous posts, Mike, but it sounds like Jeny hasn't ever embraced the Vee Snoeshoe 2XL tires that would seem to give the best floatation in the deep, unconsolidated snow conditions that you often ride. Why did Jeny reject the 2XLs in favor of Bud/Lou until the recent availability of the Johnny5s?

    Thanks for your interesting and thoughtful reports!

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    Quote Originally Posted by FitmanNJ View Post
    I probably missed this in one of your many previous posts, Mike, but it sounds like Jeny hasn't ever embraced the Vee Snoeshoe 2XL tires that would seem to give the best floatation in the deep, unconsolidated snow conditions that you often ride. Why did Jeny reject the 2XLs in favor of Bud/Lou until the recent availability of the Johnny5s?

    Thanks for your interesting and thoughtful reports!

    She hasn't rejected them, although she hasn't ridden them as much as Bud/Lou or J5.

    She's never, ever been interested in 'go fast' tires like JJ's or Knard's, because she realized quickly that although they may be light and with low rolling resistance, they don't dig in when things are unconsolidated, so you might as well run CX tires because you're walking either way. Whenever I suggest trying something like that (whether on fat, plus, or 29") she always sort of wrinkles her nose in disgust. She knows what she likes, and why.

    Because I outweigh her by ~65#, we're pretty evenly matched with her on J5 and me on 2XL. If we were to head to AK to ride some big/wild/remote objective, my guess is that she would opt for 2XL's as she's now seen how important it is to have as much float as you can muster to offset a heavily loaded bike.

    And if she did, she'd be kicking my ass because with the added mass that I carry subcutaneously I wouldn't be able to come close to keeping up. Can't really keep up as is.

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    Thanks Mikesee. Being close to Jeny weight her input is valuable to me.
    I am like her light and fast is not what i look for in winter.
    I want hours in the woods and climbing capacities.

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    I'm getting lost in this thread. Quality images. Quality bikes and tires. Good objective attitude to the purpose of the thread.

    I could read this stuff all the time!

    Thanks, mikesee

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    "And if she did, she'd be kicking my ass because with the added mass that I carry subcutaneously I wouldn't be able to come close to keeping up. Can't really keep up as is."

    Maybe the bikini-clad data point is where you'll see some gains?

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    Hi Mike -
    Thanks for awesome info info and photos !
    Can you expand on what you think makes the Onyx hub smoother- is it engagement points or something else mechanical in the hub ?

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    Good read! And I'm over here trying to run the mildest tire possible to go faster hahahaha. Our winters are milder but we do get snow storms snd a wicked freeze thaw cycle

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Surly View Post
    Hi Mike -
    Thanks for awesome info info and photos !
    Can you expand on what you think makes the Onyx hub smoother- is it engagement points or something else mechanical in the hub ?

    It's the way that the sprags "stand up" when torque is applied. I'm not enough of an enginerd to 'splain it any better.

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    It is a bit hard to explain... it's better just "to feel the magic" by yourself.

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    A sprag is superior to a ratchet in that as more torque is applied, the tighter its grasp. That also leads to zero lash (read near zero lash) engagement and one wonderful side benefit called silent operation. The smoothness of the Onyx in operation is pure delight.

    Some folks speak of "windup" which is nothing more than the sprag increasing its grip on the works.

    Sprags are nothing new as they are present in automatic transmissions in automobiles.
    Get fAt, Stay fAt, Ride fAt
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    Quote Originally Posted by bansheerune View Post
    the smoothness of the onyx in operation is pure delight.
    TRUE.

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    Iím surprised that J5 was perceived as having more float than Bud and Lou. According to the seat of my pants, the float is about the same but Bud steers and tracks way better. Iím running bud front, J5 rear when itís deep.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Willum View Post
    Iím surprised that J5 was perceived as having more float than Bud and Lou. According to the seat of my pants, the float is about the same but Bud steers and tracks way better. Iím running bud front, J5 rear when itís deep.
    This is what Iím running too - J5 rear and bud front. It makes sense on paper for my conditions. I havenít had a ride with the J5 in the rear yet as Iím recovering from surgery. Hopefully in a few weeks I can get ou5 there. So how do you like the combo? What are you comparing it to? And lastly what area and snow conditions? Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    She hasn't rejected them, although she hasn't ridden them as much as Bud/Lou or J5.

    She's never, ever been interested in 'go fast' tires like JJ's or Knard's, because she realized quickly that although they may be light and with low rolling resistance, they don't dig in when things are unconsolidated, so you might as well run CX tires because you're walking either way. Whenever I suggest trying something like that (whether on fat, plus, or 29") she always sort of wrinkles her nose in disgust. She knows what she likes, and why.

    Because I outweigh her by ~65#, we're pretty evenly matched with her on J5 and me on 2XL. If we were to head to AK to ride some big/wild/remote objective, my guess is that she would opt for 2XL's as she's now seen how important it is to have as much float as you can muster to offset a heavily loaded bike.

    And if she did, she'd be kicking my ass because with the added mass that I carry subcutaneously I wouldn't be able to come close to keeping up. Can't really keep up as is.
    Was that her thoughts on the 2XL tires from the iditarod? I've been surprised when going through the bikes at the amount of people running even D4s, but with bikes so heavily loaded, I have to wonder how much a 4 vs. 5" tire really helps, as both are going to be pretty bad with a 70lb bike on any kind of soft surface? There were lots of wide rims at 90-105mm, but 2XL tires were pretty rare, Jenny may have been the only person on them from what I recall. If she she did it again would she choose something smaller/lighter or were the 2XL worth it for the float? There was one race I opted for D4s simply because I knew there'd be a lot of pushing and they were easier to push.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Overkill View Post
    This is what Iím running too - J5 rear and bud front. It makes sense on paper for my conditions. I havenít had a ride with the J5 in the rear yet as Iím recovering from surgery. Hopefully in a few weeks I can get ou5 there. So how do you like the combo? What are you comparing it to? And lastly what area and snow conditions? Thanks!
    Weíve had an icy November, very snowy December, and an icy January around here. My other tires are the snowshoe 2XL, the new huge Cake Eater (which Iím selling), and Dillinger 4. Itís been mostly Dillinger 4 conditions as of late. Oh, and by bud and Lou have a bunch grip studs in them.

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    Science.


    We took advantage of continued high pressure in the alpine to sneak in a Friday afternoon ride, then camped up high so that we could ride again first thing Saturday morning.









    Riding at sunset and into the evening was, is, delightful. A lack of wind and a dearth of humanity lent a special sort of feeling: Private yet welcoming. Silent yet alive.



    Conditions the next morning were still firm but the clear skies had been replaced by scud that the forecasters told us was bringing feet of snow. We also knew that because it was the weekend, the trails would be busy by mid-day. So we motivated early to get some science done.




    The test that I devised to compare these two tires was pretty simple. We have identical bikes with identical widths of rim. We, however, are not identical -- not in size, nor weight, nor wind resistance, nor reaction time, nor power, nor skill. Completing an XC loop didn't make much sense, because we couldn't control for power output, nor braking points on hills, nor ability to carve corners, nor changing conditions over time. In an effort to control for every variable possible, we determined that Jeny and I would coast down a short, sorta steep hill and out into the flats beyond, starting from a precise point each time, never touching the brakes, never pedaling. Your basic "rolldown test".

    We kept things consistent by always riding with our seats at the same height, never tucking, always keeping pedals level. When we rolled to a stop we'd lay the bike down, then precisely measure the distance rolled. To facilitate ease of measuring we chose a baseline distance that coincided with a trail marker, then measured to that marker.

    We started at 4psi in all 4 tires -- a pressure higher than we ever use in any given snow year -- and figured that since the trail was groomed 30' wide we'd just move over onto an unused part of the corduroy for each lap. We quickly learned, courtesy of wildly varying distances rolled, that the snow was far less uniform than it appeared to the eye. Snowmachine ruts, chunks of ice left from the groomer, invisible soft spots and tiny wind drifts could slow or deflect our tires in seemingly small ways but that accounted for relatively big differences in speed. We even had a few moments of tailwind that could have affected things by a few feet.

    Even though we were neither pedaling nor braking, our distances rolled varied by as much as 40' from lap to lap. After a brief discussion, and considering how firm the trail was, we decided to throw out those first several laps, and do several more laps *each on the same identical part of the packed track*, until the numbers started to be consistent again. Basically we packed our own track, and then stayed within that track from then on. Every few laps I'd stop and scratch at the surface in various places, as a means for determining whether the track was changing in any meaningful way. I can't definitively say that it wasn't, but I couldn't see where it was.



    Once we were certain that the trail was consistent we started measuring the distance rolled for each of us. Then we switched bikes and did several laps that way, marking the precise distance of each lap.

    Then we dropped the pressure to 2psi, and did 6 laps that way.

    Then we dropped to .6psi and did 6 laps there.

    We both noted as the test progressed that the seemingly unusual amount of high atmospheric pressure we've had this season is the factor that allowed the 4psi and 2psi variants to happen. It follows and was noted that the .6psi felt the most at home to us -- it's closer to the range of pressures we most often ride.

    There were a few times when one of us would 'catch an edge', or a rut, or a hunk of ice, and be deflected so substantially that we'd throw out that lap. We were testing rolling resistance at a range of pressures -- not riding skill in difficult conditions. So although we both recorded 21 laps in the test, we each rode 40+ in total.

    We started at 18*f and finished at 29*f.

    Here's a very unexciting and flat light time lapse of our hours out there, condensed to 24 seconds to give an idea of the consistent "lap" we rode.



    Conclusions?

    I think it's important to recognize from the outset that snow is a dynamic medium. Even controlling for every variable that we could our distances rolled never completely normalized: On the last set of laps, with pressures very low, our distances rolled still varied by as much as 37' over a ~350' span. That dynamism has always been one of the more compelling aspects to riding snow, for us. I don't think it invalidates the numbers we collected, it just means we need to focus on the big picture and the overall averages instead of individual values.

    And those values? They show consistently and conclusively that the 2XL has less rolling resistance at any reasonable pressure and regardless of rider weight. It consistently out-rolled the Johnny 5 for both of us.

    Below is the spreadsheet of our results. The distances are all in feet, and they are measured not from the start point but from a trail marker ~300' into our rollout. Thus a positive value recorded represents 300' plus that number. A negative value recorded is 300' minus that number.



    Clearly there are endless permutations possible, based on varying snow conditions, temperature ranges, rider weights, pressures, rim widths, tread patterns, and so many other variables. Astute observers will note that I started this project with the desire to ride more -- more feet per mile -- in difficult conditions. This little test doesn't prove anything it that direction, but it reinforces that the tire that gives me the most float and control when conditions are worst, also rolls better when conditions are good. For me, where I live and ride, the 2XL is the better tire everywhere.

    Now we move on to phase two. I've removed the Kuroshiro/2XL combo from the bike and replaced it with a set of ENVE M685 hoops shod with Terrene Cake Eater tires in 27.5 x 4.5". These are the widest 27.5" rims in existence shod with the tallest and fattest 27.5" tires currently made.



    Now that the high pressure has gone and the storm cycles have begun -- two feet have already fallen up high in the last three days -- we'll have consistently soft, unconsolidated snow to ride them in for at least a month. Much riding will happen, and more science too.

    I'll check back in with progress as things develop.

    Thanks for checkin' in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Was that her thoughts on the 2XL tires from the iditarod? I've been surprised when going through the bikes at the amount of people running even D4s, but with bikes so heavily loaded, I have to wonder how much a 4 vs. 5" tire really helps, as both are going to be pretty bad with a 70lb bike on any kind of soft surface? There were lots of wide rims at 90-105mm, but 2XL tires were pretty rare, Jenny may have been the only person on them from what I recall. If she she did it again would she choose something smaller/lighter or were the 2XL worth it for the float? There was one race I opted for D4s simply because I knew there'd be a lot of pushing and they were easier to push.

    She was on Bud/Bud when she did the Idita.

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    Thanks for the new data, Mike. Did the 2XLs that you used for the coastdown tests have the "half-height shaved" middle three rows of knobs, or were they exactly as shipped from Vee?

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    Quote Originally Posted by FitmanNJ View Post
    Thanks for the new data, Mike. Did the 2XLs that you used for the coastdown tests have the "half-height shaved" middle three rows of knobs, or were they exactly as shipped from Vee?

    Stock tires, not snipped. Swapped them a week+ ago, partially for objectivity in the test, partially because our storm season is here and full height tread is needed.

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    Thanks for the great insight and data !
    Awesome photos, very inspiring
    Do you have any comparisons on grip climbing and off camber between the two tires ?
    Last edited by Sir Surly; 02-06-2019 at 01:49 PM. Reason: Add text

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Surly View Post
    Thanks for the great insight and data !
    Awesome photos, very inspiring
    Do you have any comparisons on grip climbing and off camber between the two tires ?

    So subjective it's hard to say, especially since we spend 90% of our time on our own bike, and only 10% on the other bike/other set of tires.

    I'd say the biggest difference is the ability to run lots of quality studs and ride ice with the J5's. In the soft snow we get traction seems to be a wash.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Surly View Post
    Thanks for the great insight and data !
    Awesome photos, very inspiring
    Do you have any comparisons on grip climbing and off camber between the two tires ?
    Those tires might have a float advantage but to climb nothing beats a Lou.
    In the front nothing beats the Bud.
    For ice 100 GripStuds/tire is plenty for me but some use 125 or 150.
    I am in Montreal, Quebec and days i cannot ride are very few.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 33red View Post
    Those tires might have a float advantage but to climb nothing beats a Lou.
    In the front nothing beats the Bud.
    For ice 100 GripStuds/tire is plenty for me but some use 125 or 150.
    I am in Montreal, Quebec and days i cannot ride are very few.

    How much time have you spent on J5?

    And how much on 2XL?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    She was on Bud/Bud when she did the Idita.
    Ooops, I see that now from my photos.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Was that her thoughts on the 2XL tires from the iditarod? I've been surprised when going through the bikes at the amount of people running even D4s, but with bikes so heavily loaded, I have to wonder how much a 4 vs. 5" tire really helps, as both are going to be pretty bad with a 70lb bike on any kind of soft surface? There were lots of wide rims at 90-105mm, but 2XL tires were pretty rare, Jenny may have been the only person on them from what I recall. If she she did it again would she choose something smaller/lighter or were the 2XL worth it for the float? There was one race I opted for D4s simply because I knew there'd be a lot of pushing and they were easier to push.
    I think in 2017 Pete Basinger was on the 2XLs, there might have been others. In 2018 I think there was one person on white v tires, not sure if they were 2xls or not and I can't find a photo of them so my memory could be faulty.

    I don't think Pete was happy with those tires for the ITI. I can't speak for him obviously, but I expect he found the additional riding allowed by the extra float didn't make up for their pretty significantly higher rolling resistance on the firm and fast cold trail.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spruceboy View Post
    I think in 2017 Pete Basinger was on the 2XLs, there might have been others. In 2018 I think there was one person on white v tires, not sure if they were 2xls or not and I can't find a photo of them so my memory could be faulty.

    I don't think Pete was happy with those tires for the ITI. I can't speak for him obviously, but I expect he found the additional riding allowed by the extra float didn't make up for their pretty significantly higher rolling resistance on the firm and fast cold trail.
    No idea if they were 2XL
    Testing one, two.-g0215594.jpg

    Testing one, two.-gopr5509.jpg
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    No idea if they were 2XL
    Those are 2XLs (Pure Silica version)

  115. #115
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    Those Cake Eaters on Enve rims look huge...wonder which frames they will fit

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    Quote Originally Posted by rushman3 View Post
    Those Cake Eaters on Enve rims look huge...wonder which frames they will fit
    All 3 tires have a limited fitment range. But all 3 tires are pretty awesome...and work well in different conditions.

  117. #117
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    Quote Originally Posted by rushman3 View Post
    Those Cake Eaters on Enve rims look huge...wonder which frames they will fit
    Someone had a set on a Gen 1 Surly ICT. He was using the sliding rear MDS dropout. I've looked and tried to find the post but cannot now...

  118. #118
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    Quote Originally Posted by mohrgan View Post
    Someone had a set on a Gen 1 Surly ICT. He was using the sliding rear MDS dropout. I've looked and tried to find the post but cannot now...
    It will fit on both gens of ICT...and a Farley and a RSD Mayor.
    It will fit in a Mastodon fork.
    It won't fit in a Borealis Echo....rubs on the chainstay bridge at base of seat tube( but fits inside the chainstays, which the XXL does not).
    I have this tire on a Mulefut wheel set...but haven't had the chance to really use it because of weird snow....or lack of snow in northern MA
    .

  119. #119
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    Quote Originally Posted by the mayor View Post
    All 3 tires have a limited fitment range. But all 3 tires are pretty awesome...and work well in different conditions.
    Yeah, I'm pretty limited right now, but I cut through a bunch of chunk-mush from snow-plows on the way to/from work today and they went through like it was nothing, I could see where people with the smaller tires turned back or didn't attempt. Not fast, but so far so good.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  120. #120
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    Quote Originally Posted by the mayor View Post
    It will fit on both gens of ICT...and a Farley and a RSD Mayor.
    It will fit in a Mastodon fork.
    It won't fit in a Borealis Echo....rubs on the chainstay bridge at base of seat tube( but fits inside the chainstays, which the XXL does not).
    I have this tire on a Mulefut wheel set...but haven't had the chance to really use it because of weird snow....or lack of snow in northern MA
    .
    +1

    27.5 x 4.5 Cake Eaters on Jackalopes also fit on a 2017 Aluminium Mukluk and Bearpaw fork with plenty of clearance.

    Testing one, two.-20190208_174942.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by mohrgan View Post
    Someone had a set on a Gen 1 Surly ICT. He was using the sliding rear MDS dropout. I've looked and tried to find the post but cannot now...
    I wonder if I'm the one you've seen? I don't think I've posted here, but have a few pics posted on FB. I switched to the sliding MDS drop outs to run eagle. Coincidentally, it gave me tons more clearance for height too.

    Overall I've loved the 27.5 x 4.5 Cake Eaters, they continue to impress. I own them in 29 x 2.8 and 27.5 x 4.0 too, but I ride the 4.5 the most.

    Testing one, two.-20190125_145943.jpg
    Testing one, two.-20190203_121710.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by jerrduford View Post
    I wonder if I'm the one you've seen? I don't think I've posted here, but have a few pics posted on FB. I switched to the sliding MDS drop outs to run eagle. Coincidentally, it gave me tons more clearance for height too.

    Overall I've loved the 27.5 x 4.5 Cake Eaters, they continue to impress. I own them in 29 x 2.8 and 27.5 x 4.0 too, but I ride the 4.5 the most.
    Yes Jerry...it was you! I've got the same bike and run 27.5 Studded Gnarwhals.

  123. #123
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    No idea if they were 2XL
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Yeah, they are definitely 2XLs.

    To answer (or rather, to give my answer to it ) your question if a big tire like that is worth it or not: the Iditarod trail invitational /iti is sort of a special situation - generally it has some sections of soft trail, but lots of firm fast trail that can be very cold. I think the problem with the 2XLs is they roll really slow on the cold hard trail we have in interior Alaska.. of which there is ~130 miles of the 300+ miles. I don't know if it is the tread pattern or the rubber, but they roll slow. To make it worth while it would need to be warm, and really soft for most of the course, but firm enough that it is ridable with those tires at an effort level that is sustainable for ~4 days - which is pretty unlikely.

    I think most of the "fast" folks are going in with the idea that walking more on the bad sections but riding faster on the firm sections will give a faster time overall.

    These new johnny 5s are probably an improvement, but the other terrene tires have rubber that roll slow on cold firm snow that we have in interior Alaska so I think there might be a similar problem. I would expect they would be great in the warmer Anchorage area snow.

    (before someone says I am full of cr*p, I have ridden to Nome D5s, surly buds, and surly buds with the tread trimmed down to half the height, so while I am not an expert, I do know something )

  124. #124
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    Quote Originally Posted by spruceboy View Post
    I don't think Pete was happy with those tires for the conditions that year.
    fixed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    fixed.
    Now you are just trolling me

    I believe what he told me was:
    " I think the conditions that really favor them would be few and far between in that trail. "

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    Quote Originally Posted by spruceboy View Post
    Now you are just trolling me

    I'm actually not. I'm just sort of scratching my head at how you seem to find your way into any/every thread discussing the 2XL tires, and speak from a negative perspective as though you have experience with them. Do you? Have you owned or extensively ridden them?

    I've never claimed that they're suitable nor ideal for every situation or person or trail or ____. No one tire is. But you might notice that I've done some empirical data collection here, and have actually already learned that they *are* quantifiably better than their nearest competitor. Your recent comments suggest that maybe you missed that.

    Our backyard mountain has received over 280" of snow this season, as of this afternoon. Too deep, soft, and unconsolidated to ride regardless of rim and tire right now. Hope to get up there with the ENVE/CE B Fat combo later this week.

  127. #127
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    Our backyard mountain has received over 280" of snow this season...
    DAYAMN!!! we currently have no snow on the ground, and some random patches of ice here/there. but there is 3-7" forcast for today, starting at 11am. Schools have already closed, and I just read New Jersey declared a state of emergency already...

    i want a bike with 2XL/J5, but in reality it will just be a waste of $$... guess i will have to live vicariously through you guys...

  128. #128
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodney View Post
    DAYAMN!!! we currently have no snow on the ground, and some random patches of ice here/there. but there is 3-7" forcast for today, starting at 11am. Schools have already closed, and I just read New Jersey declared a state of emergency already...

    i want a bike with 2XL/J5, but in reality it will just be a waste of $$... guess i will have to live vicariously through you guys...
    I'm with you Rodney! I really want a bike that fits those huge tires, but I have absolutely no need for one being in NY, although I do ride in VT sometimes. I still love reading about these tires and what they can and can't do.

    So when that time comes that I retire and get the OK from the family to go ride the ITI, I'll at lest have some knowledge or what works!

  129. #129
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodney View Post
    DAYAMN!!!
    i want a bike with 2XL/J5, but in reality it will just be a waste of $$... guess i will have to live vicariously through you guys...
    I hear you.
    I live just north of Boston....and we have not had much snow this year.
    I built up a RSD Mayor as a 2nd bike just so I could run 2XLs....and have only used that set up a few times ( which was kind of the plan anyways).

    But....the J5s have gotten plenty of use because they are great on ice...and are really great on frozen fat/skinny tire rutted/footprinted ice/snow mix...which we've had a lot of the past few weeks. Much better than the D5 in this stuff(but the D5s still have a place ). Allows me to ride every day.

    Which makes the big tires a niche market...depending on where you live.

  130. #130
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    I'm actually not. I'm just sort of scratching my head at how you seem to find your way into any/every thread discussing the 2XL tires, and speak from a negative perspective as though you have experience with them. Do you? Have you owned or extensively ridden them?

    I've never claimed that they're suitable nor ideal for every situation or person or trail or ____. No one tire is. But you might notice that I've done some empirical data collection here, and have actually already learned that they *are* quantifiably better than their nearest competitor. Your recent comments suggest that maybe you missed that.

    Our backyard mountain has received over 280" of snow this season, as of this afternoon. Too deep, soft, and unconsolidated to ride regardless of rim and tire right now. Hope to get up there with the ENVE/CE B Fat combo later this week.
    I haven't said they are bad tire in every situation, or that they are even a bad tire for your local riding conditions.

    What I am saying in answer to the Jayem person's question is that for the snow and trail conditions in the ITI, those tires are not a "good" option, and I am trying to point out the only "competitive" person who has run these tires thought the window when they were a "good" option is pretty small. Maybe his opinion has changed, I don't know. You ride with the guy, I assume you guys have discussed it?

    Why do I have this opinion? I have a snow bike that those tires would fit on, and in 2017, I was very interested in riding them to Nome. I couldn't find a set of the 2xl at the beginning of the winter, and ending up with a set of the smaller cream colored xl tires, and rode them for most of the winter, figuring it would be a good test of how well they would actually work. There was a lot to like about those tires - they had studs, were nice and wide, the tread isn't super deep, etc, etc, so I was very motivated to get them to work, and if they worked, move up to the 2xls ( assuming I could actually find some to buy). However, I eventually gave up because in my local conditions they were always rolled slower than some of the other options like the buds. Their thickish casing and funky rubber just doesn't work well in the cold dry snow + cold temperatures I have were I live. I can't see how an even bigger version of the same tire is going to be any better for my use - it is just going to be worse. Since roughly half ITI course is in conditions really similar to my back yard, I think my opinion is perfectly reasonable.

    That isn't to say they don't work great for you - where you ride, and the snow conditions were you live.

    I have been enjoying your posts about the testing and comparison - but from my POV it looks like your testing those tires in the conditions in which they work the best. Which is great, and it is the conditions which you have and ride in, which is even better. It is just not everyone lives were you do, and I was trying to give my opinion about how they would work for something like the ITI, which isn't in your backyard.

  131. #131
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    Oy vey.

    So.

    Much.

    Snow.



    We've had something like 76" in the past ~10 days, with heaps more coming.


    This just in from the NWS:

    ...WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 5 PM MST FRIDAY...

    * Moderate to heavy snow rates expected at times through

    Friday afternoon. Total snow accumulations of 14 to 28 inches

    with locally higher amounts on favored slopes.

    * ADDITIONAL DETAILS...Travel will become very difficult to

    impossible at times. Power lines could be impacted by the persistent moderate to heavy snowfall rates.


    Total snowfall season-to-date on our backyard mountain is now over 330".



    In other words? Pretty much a normal year.



    Spice and I tried to sneak in a ride between storms a few days ago. We managed to do a bit of pushing, very little riding (and all of the pedaling was downhill only), some more pushing, and then we accepted that it just wasn't going to happen. So we headed back and shoveled out his driveway.

    While I'd love to have something concrete to share about the B Fat Cake Eater's on ENVE rims, the reality is that *any* wheeled vehicles are about as effective as ice skates, or SUP's, with the snow conditions as they are.

    No complaints -- gonna be an amazing wildflower and runoff season.

    Thanks for checkin' in.

  132. #132
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    The trout love this snowpack.

  133. #133
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    Spice and I tried to sneak in a ride between storms a few days ago. We managed to do a bit of pushing, very little riding (and all of the pedaling was downhill only), some more pushing, and then we accepted that it just wasn't going to happen. So we headed back and shoveled out his driveway.
    Any reason that this area you ride doesn't get some sort of grooming by you, another local rider or some local bike organization?

    We groom all the time over this way in WI after snowfalls and have been getting some significant snow as well this year. Broke a few snow records this month already.

  134. #134
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    Quote Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
    Any reason that this area you ride doesn't get some sort of grooming by you, another local rider or some local bike organization?
    Because when it dumps the way it has, the way it often does, people are out skiing. Fatbikes, in these parts, are largely what you play with when it isn't snowing.

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    Testing one, two: Three.

    We've shifted gears -- as it were -- and have begun comparing the 26 x 5" Terrene Johnny 5's (still on Jeny's bike) to the 27.5 x 4.5" Terrene Cake Eater's, installed on my bike and mounted on ENVE M685 rims. Quite a coup for Terrene to have both of these tires competing for the perhaps dubious distinction of being our favorite all-around snow tires.



    Two things worth mentioning at this point: All tires were purchased by me for this test -- none of them were provided -- and neither of the manufacturers has had any contact with me before or since the testing began.

    Second thing: Once we've finished comparing the Cake Eater's to the Johnny 5's, we will, if necessary, compare the Cake Eater's directly to the Vee 2XL's.

    Had we a third identical bike and a willing pilot with no scheduling constraints we'd *love* to be comparing all three on the same trails, same conditions, at the same time.

    Onward.

    First real ride on the CE's was a few days ago, and immediately following a week+ of storms that dumped over 4 feet of snow on our backyard mountain. Said mountain has now received over 350" this winter, 97" of that in February, and at the two reporting stations there is an average of 91" of settled snow on the ground. This is a bit above average for this time of year, but not unheard of.



    Simply put: It's deep up there.

    Nearest the trailhead was packed pretty well, but once you got out a bit -- past where the bulk of folks are willing to go -- things got soft and continued to get softer the further we went. Very quickly we were down below 2psi, and probably not much above 1psi.



    A subtle but important note here: Pay attention to how much snow has accumulated on each rim in the pics immediately above and below. Think about the effect of that added mass over the course of a long day or even multi-day ride. For those of us that live in deep snow country, rim shape matters.



    No gauged pressure measurements were taken on this ride -- we just adjusted as necessary and then continued riding. Jeny knows where she needs to be with pressures with the 105/J5 combo. I'm early in the process of figuring out what the CE's like and where their limits are.

    Cause for minor celebration: A ~nipple-high gate that we usually need to dismount for and then shimmy and squeak to get past is finally buried to the extent that we can simply roll over it.





    We are indebted to those poor saps whom find snowshoeing enjoyable -- or whom simply don't know any better: Without them we'd be home playing dominoes.



    As noted ad nauseam, the snow upon which we rode was deep and soft -- it had only stopped falling ~36 hours earlier. We attributed our ability to ride on a combination of lots of snowshoe traffic, modern bike geometry, modern tubeless tire and rim capability, and a heap of solar radiation at ~10,000', helping to condense the snow into a rideable surface.





    As far as conclusions on the Cake Eater tires after this one day of riding, I can say subjectively that I was surprised by the amount of float they offered: Jeny and I swapped bikes for one stretch and neither of us could detect a meaningful difference between the tires being compared.

    As far as speed, we both agreed that the CE's seemed to roll faster, with less effort or input needed to keep them rolling.

    As far as control, we both noted that the CE's had difficulty handling off-camber sections of trail -- they'd simply slide toward the low points, where the J5's would hold their line without need for the rider to react.



    Other nuances presented themselves, but so subtly that I need more time on the CE's to ascertain what was real, and why it might have been happening.



    Toward the end as the light got low, soft, and creamy, we slowed down a bit to remember where we were, and how lucky we are to live in a place with so many diverse outdoor opportunities.



    More in a bit. Thanks for checkin' in.

  136. #136
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    Thanks for the great information and awesome photos !
    Very cool to see the sidewalls flexing or rippling and the soft light shot is amazing. Wish I could be that third rider

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    I also just want to say thank you for sharing your experience, I really enjoy following this thread and hope you continue to share.

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    It comes back to basics,
    - the float potential
    - the traction on snow
    - the traction on ice
    there is no surprise that the cake eater is not ideal for traction, the website writes good speed, we have to choose depending where we ride and what we enjoy.
    I read the J5 is real good in front and a different rider wrote it does not cut it when off camber. Maybe 1 uses 100mm and the other is on 80mm.
    It also depends what tires they used before some started on summer tires so even a four season feels great in the snow to them.
    So if she used only a pair of tires on snow would she prefer the J5, Bud/Lou or some other? (obviously we add gripstuds to be OK on ice).
    Thanks.

  139. #139
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    Quote Originally Posted by 33red View Post
    So if she used only a pair of tires on snow would she prefer the J5, Bud/Lou or some other? (obviously we add gripstuds to be OK on ice).
    Thanks.

    She's graduated from Bud/Lou to J5. I don't think I could pay her to go back at this point.

    And if I had to choose between Bud/Lou and J5 I'd pick J5. Pretty much every time.

  140. #140
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    Quote Originally Posted by spruceboy View Post
    I was trying to give my opinion about how they would work for something like the ITI, which isn't in your backyard.

    I think, possibly, what's happening here is that in the 17 years that I rode/raced on the ITI route, there was never such a thing as a tire that was too wide or too aggressive. Never.

    That said, I only got one year with Bud up front, and couldn't fit Bud out back thus had to settle for BFL. Which, um, sucked.

    So maybe I'm out of touch with the ITI. Or maybe my strategy for that race -- ride 22 hours, nap for 90 minutes, repeat as needed -- works with a tire that gives better traction than speed. The new-school way to do that race is to ride faster and rest longer. Hard to say for sure, since conditions seem to have changed dramatically at the same time that tire and rim tech has come of age.

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    Any chance you could elaborate? I think lots of people are running Bud/Lou and wonder if going J5 is an improvement.

    Thank you.

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    Thanks Mike -How about the 26 inch Johnny 5 versus a 27.5 inch Gnarwhal ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Surly View Post
    Thanks Mike -How about the 26 inch Johnny 5 versus a 27.5 inch Gnarwhal ?
    I guess you can tell us the written number and and actual width of that tire on what rim? I am pretty sure the J5 does not really performs unless it is on 90-100. I do not like the tiny rims available on 27 and having less tires options.

  144. #144
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Surly View Post
    Thanks Mike -How about the 26 inch Johnny 5 versus a 27.5 inch Gnarwhal ?

    We compared these back to back yesterday. Gnarwhal had to be run ~.2psi lower to maintain the same float and control as J5. Keep in mind when you're using 2psi total, .2 difference is a lot.

    Neither of us could tell a difference other than that -- they both give heaps of control.

    Gnarwhal's are ~118mm (casing and tread) on the ENVE M685's.

  145. #145
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    Quote Originally Posted by fthefox View Post
    Any chance you could elaborate? I think lots of people are running Bud/Lou and wonder if going J5 is an improvement.

    Thank you.

    I can't think of a place where J5 *isn't* an improvement. You get a tubeless ready casing and bead, the ability to easily run a lot of studs, plus tremendous drive and cornering traction. All of this in a package that has a bit more air volume than Bud/Lou.

    If I have a complaint about J5 it's that he rolls a bit slow. Only you know if that's important to you.

    All of this coming from someone that loved Bud and Lou. They've just been outsized and outclassed now, and need to be updated.

  146. #146
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    Quote Originally Posted by 33red View Post
    I guess you can tell us the written number and and actual width of that tire on what rim? I am pretty sure the J5 does not really performs unless it is on 90-100. I do not like the tiny rims available on 27 and having less tires options.

    I'm at a loss on how to respond to you. You've chimed in 4 or 5 times to this thread, effectively saying each time that Bud and Lou are the best tires evar. Or at least casting aspersions on tires that you've not yet ridden.

    My aim with this experiment (and with the subsequent thoughts shared in this thread) was to determine which tires floated best for us, at 10,000' in the Colorado alpine, on trails that see 500+ inches of snow between November and May. Do you seriously not see a difference from that scenario to Montreal?

    I've also addressed Bud and Lou directly, many times within this thread. They were ground breaking tires when they were new in 2012. By my maths that was 7 years ago. They have since been surpassed in pretty much every way. Does that make them bad tires? Nope. But it does mean if you were buying new tires today, you'd have a heap of choices, each of which has some subtle to enormous benefit over Bud/Lou.

    Yet you seem stuck on the fact that they are superior. Perhaps once you've tried something else you'll finally "get" that they have been improved upon.

    Or, not...

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    Three and a half.


    Serendipity struck this week, gifting us 3 deep-snow alpine rides that allowed us to firmly cement the testing process, and the conclusions we drew from it.

    After the last ride we were lightly encouraged that the B Fat Cake Eater held promise in float and straight-line performance, but we had concerns about how it did on off-cambers, because it, um, didn't do so well on off-cambers.



    In the interim since the last ride overnight temps had dropped to single digits, which had the effect of sucking some moisture out of the snowpack. The ephemeral crust upon which we float became a bit less consistent, such that we found ourselves punching through a bit more often. To be clear, both of us weren't punching through more often: Only the person riding the Cake Eater's was.

    On top of that, it hadn't snowed since the last ride but there *had* been a little wind that had deposited a fine flour of 1 to 2" on the trail surface. Great conditions for sussing out what works and what doesn't.



    Pretty quickly the wheat was separated from the chaff -- the CE's were more likely to punch through the ephemeral crust, requiring you to be much more "on" in placing your tires in the center of the packed track. If focus wavered for even a moment and either tire wandered near the edge, said tire would punch through and you (I) would have to dab, re-center, and restart. 4 or 5 times said dab would result in my foot going deep, my body slowly rotating around that pivot point, and then my body ending up off the bike, off the trail, in deep. Body plant. On one awkward fall I ended up in a tree well, and had to use the bike (I basically crawled over it while pushing it down deeper into the snow) to extricate myself. From the relative packed surface of the trail I was then able to stretch out and pull the bike up to join me. Exhausting. And not very fast...

    Some of this can be blamed on the go-fast (pretty slippery in these conditions) Cake Eater tread, and the rest on the fact that its low knobs add up to a fairly round tire profile even on the widest rims made for 27.5" fat tires. Round casing + fast tread=fast tire. But it doesn't amount to a good floater, digger, or steerer when the crust is thin or the snow is unconsolidated.

    Meanwhile, Jeny -- out ahead as usual -- just seemed to be riding blithely along as though conditions were consistent. Plodding along behind and analyzing her tracks I could see that even when her tires neared the edge of the trail she could easily/subconsciously correct and suffer no consequences. Where I was working hard, focused intently on the trail and still flailing, she was toodling along looking at the scenery and listening to the birds. Without a care in the world, essentially.

    At a spur she waited and we swapped bikes. Almost immediately I could feel how the J5's rolled more slowly, but their aggressive tread easily allowed me to keep them to where the track was most consistently packed. Just as quickly she was having trouble keeping the bike on the straight and narrow, dabbing as necessary and frustratedly exclaiming about the difference between the two tires in these conditions. Happy wife, happy life, right? I quickly put her back on her own bike...



    As the ride progressed and we found more and more wind affected and deposited snow, I fell further and further behind Jeny even as I worked harder to keep up. The pattern seemed to be that I'd go fairly fast in the straights and then flail in the corners -- sometimes so significantly that I'd crash, or at least dab as described above -- and then lose yet more time. Even when I finally tamped my pace down ("go slow to go fast") entering each corner I still couldn't gain back any time on her. She was putting out less effort and still pulling away. I was gassing myself repeatedly and getting gapped at the same time.



    If you drift back to the very start of this series -- to where I said that I wanted to be able to ride more feet per mile, and was going to test a small handful of tires and rims side by side to the end of determining which would allow me to do that -- it's pretty easy to see that the Cake Eater's weren't getting me there.

    I can't really fault the tires as they were designed and intended for speed on groomed trails. Because they also happen to be the biggest B Fat tire made, I'd pinned my hopes on them. Expectations lead to disappointment, or so some wise woman once said.

    The only upshot we could find to the Cake Eater's is that they are indeed very fast on hardpack. But then almost every other tire out there can say the same compared to the 2XL and J5 we've come to love. We aren't after speed -- antithetical as that sounds these days -- we just want to ride more.

    A peek at the forecast for our backyard mountains:



    If you live anywhere near these parts, or at least recognize what the above forecast represents when the snow is at ~5% moisture content, then you "get" why we need float + dig above all else. And remember that that forecast represents what's about to fall on top of the 370" that has already fallen this season.

    Based on my experience going from 26" mtb wheels/tires to 29" back in '99, I'm still convinced there can be a benefit to the 27.5" fat genre -- to a taller tire with an elongated footprint. And I think the width of these ENVE rims is damn close to what we need. I don't have an "in" there, but I can guess (hope) that they made a rim this wide (and appropriately deep) because they know that better tires are in the pipeline.

    My $.02 is that where we're currently coming up short is not so much in the tire size -- as these CE's are pretty big -- but in the casing shape and tread pattern.

    To the end of verifying that hypothesis Jeny and I executed a third ride this week -- and for this ride I installed a pair of Bontrager Gnarwhal 4.5" tires on the M685 rims.



    I'd previously proven to myself (on several occasions) that the Gnarwhals don't have enough air volume to be a legit contender in the softest conditions we ride. What I wanted to do was to ride them on these wider M685 rims, at their lowest possible pressures, to ascertain subjectively whether a tire with a square profile and adequate knobbage could conceivably contend against the 2XL and J5. Basically to ride them as-is, and then extrapolate out to what could happen if they had appropriate tread *and* air volume at least equivalent to J5.



    The short answer is that I think B Fat is the future -- both for on and off-piste fat riding. During this ride we had a variety of conditions from sun-baked April-esque hardpack to wind drifts covering the trail in the trees. Lots of punchy sections. Even 1/4 mile of postholes from a shitbagger that thought they could walk on water -- or at least float on snow -- but instead went shin deep on every step.

    Once aired down appropriately the Gnarwhal's had impressive float, impressive dig, and could be predictably controlled on off-cambers and when adjusting a line through a soft decreasing radius corner. They had to be run ~.2 psi lower than Jeny's J5's to compete. Keep in mind that when running 2psi on average, a .2psi difference is substantial. In essence the Gnarwhals did everything well, we feel they just need to be upsized to compete with 2XL and J5.



    I think our biggest hope to getting such a tire is from Bontrager, whom seems to be staffed not by marketing types concerned largely with new colorways, but by actual riders intensely focused on delivering the next level in performance. Or maybe by Terrene, if they could be convinced to create -- for example -- a 27.5 x 4.8" tire with a J5 like tread pattern. Tubeless ready and studdable, natch.



    Where I think we're hamstrung is in a lack of sheer numbers of people demanding such a tire. And by "demanding" I mean with open wallets, not social media whining. While we'd like to think there are lots of people like us, the reality is that we probably have the critical mass of those that embrace monoskis, scorchers, or squirt boats. We are passionate about what we do and how best to get to the next level of that niche, there just might not be enough of us to compel manufacturers to serve our quixotic desires.

    Given all that, I feel fortunate to have the rim options we do, and will -- this afternoon -- happily reinstall the 2XL's onto my Meriwether for the remainder of March, or at least til the snow machine turns off and the trails begin to get firm again.

    TL/DR version of this entire series?
    -Vee 2XL's float better than anything else currently made for fatbikes.
    -Vee 2XL's also happen to be a bit more efficient, at a range of pressures, on hardpack, compared to their next closest competitor.
    -Terrene Johnny 5 is that next closest competitor. It is a great tire, with a great tubeless ready casing, and predictable performance. It bests the 2XL only in the ability to run studs.
    -Terrene's Johnny 5 floats, digs, and grips better than anything else made to date -- other than Vee 2XL.
    -Terrene's Cake Eater 27.5 x 4.5" can't hang with either of the above when things are deep and soft. It is a great hardpack tire.
    -27.5 x fat tires have promise, for both on and off-piste applications. They need to get a bit bigger and grow more aggressive treads to pull even with where 26 x fat currently sits. If they do both they will surpass 26 x fat for soft conditions riding.

    Thanks for reading. Don't hesitate with questions.

    Last edited by mikesee; 03-04-2019 at 10:02 AM.

  148. #148
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    Wish we had a better way of describing snow conditions. With a tire contacting the snow, the tire is only 50% of the equation. When people rave over a tire, it is because it works for "their" conditions.

    I loved my BFL's ... when there was 1/2" of snow or less LOL. Bud/Lou have been good to me in the past, oftentimes overkill, but I am getting older and can hardly generate the muscle turn over a Lou anymore, so I am now mostly Bud/Bud. Conditions? Michigan, where they say if you don't like the weather, just wait around...it will change. Very inconsistent weather from -15į F one day to rain the next, and back to freezing with snow covered ice/crust. So I am happy with Bud/Bud, but willing to try something else if I think there is a possibility it will outperform them in "my" conditions.

    Glad to hear Mike C's report on tires and his accurate description/pictures of his conditions.They are inseparable, when reporting how well a tire works, it only has meaning when the exact weather history/snow/trail conditions are also described as accurately as possible.

    For 20 years I used to wonder why Alta Ski Area advertised "The best Snow on Earth". I thought it was a marketing ploy. Snow is snow - right? Then I skied there ... exclusively for about 8 years in a row. There is a BIG difference. Snow is not snow.

  149. #149
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    I think it's time to start cutting and sewing tires again!

    Thanks again for all of the testing and thorough write ups. I have no need for any of these tires, but I still love reading about them. Maybe someday...

  150. #150
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    The J5s have been my go to tires during this lackluster winter on the MA/NH border.
    Sold 2 sets of Bud/Lous( one set had grip studs) and a set of Vee XLs with 45nrth concave studs....I just don't see ever using those tires again

    I do have a set of the XXLs for soft snow.....and a set of studded Dillinger 5s for perfect days.

    I will say, at an event up in NH a few weeks ago...the trails were like white asphalt. But not knowing how the trails would be as the day wore on...and all the ice in the parking areas...I left the J5s on. The first 40 minutes was all climbing and I was wishing for the D5s.....but descending on those big meats was so confidence inspiring!

    It wasn't that long ago that Endomorphs were the only tire.
    I wonder what next year will bring?

  151. #151
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    Thanks for all this Mike. It's interesting to see just how far things can be pushed even if for most of us the conditions you have in your backyard are something the rest of us, especially here in the UK, can only dream of.

    As I've noted before, it's very unusual in the UK to get more than a few cm of snow so for us even 4" tyres can often be good enough. The Scottish Highlands are a bit more reliable regarding snowfall but due to latitude and lack of trees they are closer in feel to the Arctic. In fact areas like the Cairngorms in summer would be ideal for the 5" tyres as their wide footprint combined with low pressure would allow riding across delicate terrain with little risk of damaging them, possibly less than simple walking.

    Also, apart from the QBP stable (Surly and 45Nrth) there aren't that many fat bike tyres for sale here. While Vee and Terrene do have distributors they don't seem to stock the fat bike tyres. There's the occasional Bontrager and Maxxis tyre around. The market just isn't big enough.

    Personally, unless I get a new frame then the larger tyre sizes are academic - the designer tried a Lou and basically said there was no clearance - but for what I do and the conditions I ride I'm happy enough with what I've got (45Nrth Vanhelgas). It's interesting enough playing around with pressures with those.

  152. #152
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeny View Post
    I think it's time to start cutting and sewing tires again!

    Thanks again for all of the testing and thorough write ups. I have no need for any of these tires, but I still love reading about them. Maybe someday...
    I am in the same boat....until I hit the lotto, I will never be able to live and ride in an area like this...BUT, it is cool to learn about all of the parameters involved...

    hoping that mike does a comparison to 29+ tires in rocky, rooty, moderately wet terrain at some point...

    in fact, I would love to see mikes review on anything...wanna do drum reviews

    thanks for the time mikesee, and as always the pics
    Go practice. Figure it out. - Fleas

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    LET IT SNOW!

  153. #153
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    Hi Mikesee,

    Can you share the names of the trails that you're riding? I believe you live in the Gunnison area - is that correct? I live in Golden and I'm always looking for snow covered trails - NOT groomed or completely packed. Locally, I ride in the Brainard Lake area, early, in order to make first tracks.

    Regarding tires, I've read your recent reports and many past reports. What are your observations/comparisons between D5's and J5's? (I'm riding a 9zero7 Whiteout with 100mm Storm rims.)

    Thank you in advance!
    K

  154. #154
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fat&SkinnyCO View Post
    Can you share the names of the trails that you're riding?

    What are your observations/comparisons between D5's and J5's? (I'm riding a 9zero7 Whiteout with 100mm Storm rims.)

    Nope, not interested in sharing the names. Thanks for asking.

    When it comes to float, and especially when the snow is fresh, deep, and wind affected, there is no comparison between D5 and J5.

    D5 is good for trails that see lots of use, or more moist snow that holds together after limited compaction.

    J5 is a much, much better tire for backcountry Colorado snow -- dry, wind affected, and marginally compacted.
    Last edited by mikesee; 03-08-2019 at 04:59 PM.

  155. #155
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    Done.


    Last week our backyard mountain received another 37" atop it's already 400" of snowpack. Finding rideable conditions has been challenging of late. Perusing weather websites and webcams I guessed that we'd have a bit of a window on Monday afternoon, so I took a good friend and snowbike newb up for a spin.



    Honey light came and went through the day, appearing just often enough, and for just long enough, to make you really appreciate it both when it was there and as soon as it departed.



    Jeny is out of town thus I loaned her bike to Skippy, figuring he'd be able to ride more on a known-to-be-amazing snowbike. This also gave me yet another opportunity to observe the Terrene Johnny 5 tires, and to compare them to my Vee 2XL's.



    A recent wind event meant that not everything was rideable, and also that we'd have occasion to do some pushing and very, very low pressure riding.



    "When I was 49, it was a very good year..." Sinatra fans might get that one.



    A lack of traffic since that recent wind event meant that we got to do a lot of trailbreaking. Riding packed track is fun and fast, but the silky silence when rolling over inches of fresh snow is a treat to be savored.





    Early on I turned Skippy's steering damper off, explaining that since he'd never ridden snow before, and since there were so many other sensations involved that would be new and potentially confusing to him, that having the damper on might just be too much, too odd, too different from what he was used to feeling. Too un-bike-like. He didn't protest. Very shortly into the ride, he caught up to me at an intersection after having augured in, tipped over into waist deep snow, then taken some time to extract himself. When finally he'd put himself back on top of the trail surface and caught his breath, he cranked the steering damper down tight for the rest of the ride. I actually saw him check it a few times later on, to see if there might be yet more damping on offer.

    They are nifty little units, and for this kind of riding they are invaluable.



    The most notable thing, with respect to the tires we're riding and their attendant differences, came near the end of the ride where there is a short, steep, punchy and not always makable climb. In summer it taxes you but in winter, with the added weight of the bike, added resistance from so much clothing, added drag from massive tires run at unthinkably low pressures, and a distinct lack of hard riding since months ago, this climb is savage.

    Fortunately it's also pretty short.



    As it slowly unfolded in front of us I commented to Skippy that, "We ain't leaving until this thing goes clean." I didn't actually know if that was possible given current conditions, but I like to set lofty goals. Skippy went first, making it to a bulge near the middle of the hill where his rear tire spun and he dabbed. Then I gave it a shot, not waiting long enough for him to clear the trail before trying, because when I got to where he was I couldn't get past him and had to dab. Back to the bottom for both of us.

    On my second try my wheel lightly spun at the aforementioned bulge, but I was able to hunker down and scrabble for traction, and made it past there, and then past the off camber crux, and then rolled over the top, gasping. I leaned over the top tube and caught breath while watching Skippy give it another go. He spun out at the same bulge that got him the first time. After a moment of catching his breath he turned and descended for another crack. And on that third try his rear tire spun at the same mid-hill bulge. Curious now how much difference the tires were making, I rolled back down to the bottom and swapped bikes with him.

    This time, riding my bike with the Vee 2XL tires, he ripped right up, over the bulge, past the crux, all the way to the top. I followed on Jeny's bike with the J5's, slipping and spinning and barely, just barely making it over the bulge, then continuing to slip and spin and scramble for traction at the crux, then gasping I made it up over the top. When finally I'd caught breath enough to speak, we agreed wholeheartedly that the 2XL gave much, much better traction than the J5.



    Although we have lots of winter left and (hopefully) hundreds more inches of snow to come, there isn't a lot more to say about these two tires, at least in terms of the conditions that we generally ride them in. If I need a big tire with studs I'll gladly choose the Johnny 5. For anything that can be done in the alpine, in winter, without studs, the Vee 2XL has proven to be the superior tire across a range of conditions and riding pressures.

    Don't hesitate with questions.

  156. #156
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    Mike your posts almost make me wish I had a real winter here to ride snow regularly. Almost.

    Thanks for doing all the research.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  157. #157
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    Thanks Mike for sharing your valuable experience. I was one of the early adopters of the Vee XXL tyre. It was the black version. Was extremely disappointed. Is the Silica version that much better?

  158. #158
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    Quote Originally Posted by fthefox View Post
    Thanks Mike for sharing your valuable experience. I was one of the early adopters of the Vee XXL tyre. It was the black version. Was extremely disappointed. Is the Silica version that much better?

    Depends on conditions. Where do you live and ride? What are the 'normal' conditions you ride in?

  159. #159
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    Hi Mike,

    Do you use, or have your tried, a dropper post to help you remount when in soft snow?

    Which steering damper do you use and have you tried others?

  160. #160
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fat&SkinnyCO View Post
    Hi Mike,

    Do you use, or have your tried, a dropper post to help you remount when in soft snow?

    Which steering damper do you use and have you tried others?

    Both bikes highlighted in these tests are running droppers full time. Invaluable for remounting in soft snow.

    Both bikes use Hopey dampers.

    Mine also has the Cane Creek ViscoSet, set on full/max damping. I wouldn't argue with more damping, as crazy as that sounds, and as unrideable as the bike feels when you get onto a not-snow surface.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Testing one, two.-img_4060.jpg  


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    What direction do you have the rear J5 mounted? I installed mine in the direction of the arrow and plan on flipping it because it has poor traction. Reading through the thread regarding rolling resistance, what Iíve experienced is on the average set up trail, plowed road, ice, wherever max float isnít needed, the J5 has much less resistance than the 2XL. I donít look at the tires being comparable since they are not very close in size. The J5 is a better all around tire but leaves much to be desired when I need max float. Thatís where the 2XL works great and I now have two bikes, one with 2XLís and the other with J5ís so I can choose the best set up for the conditions of that day.

  162. #162
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    ThatAlaskaGuy - I mounted my rear J5 in the direction indicated (it seems that the opposite direction would provide more traction). My traction in soft deep snow was excellent at very low pressure. I ran my rear D5 in the opposite direction of the direction indicated (providing the greatest traction) and the J5 had far superior traction. (I'm running 100mm 9zero7 Storm rims.)

    A couple of weeks ago I switched my rear tire from a Dillinger 5 studded to a Johnny 5 studded. While I don't have actual measurements, the J5 is definitely larger in circumference and width and the float at very low pressure is superior to the D5. Thanks Mike for your input and the tire testing data!

    Mike, I did notice that the J5 had some wobble (most noticeable at higher pressure when mounting the tire) - based on your extensive testing, how much tire wobble would you consider normal?

  163. #163
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fat&SkinnyCO View Post
    Mike, I did notice that the J5 had some wobble (most noticeable at higher pressure when mounting the tire) - based on your extensive testing, how much tire wobble would you consider normal?
    If you can notice it affecting the ride, it's too much.

    Some people don't ride their bikes though -- they just polish them in the garage or (if their parents aren't home...) living room. Not saying this is you. But for these people *any* amount of runout is unacceptable, and cause for them to go screeching down to their LBS demanding a replacement.

  164. #164
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    Some people don't ride their bikes though -- they just polish them in the garage or (if their parents aren't home...) living room
    Mom, that Mike guy is stalking me again. Remember, 500 feet is 500 feet... :P

  165. #165
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    Mike, I know you've been testing the J5 and 2XL on 100mm+ rims but what do you think of both of them on narrower rims?

    I'm asking because the Minion FBF that came on my RSD Mayor has started to deform lately and I finally have a good reason to change my FBR/FB combo for something that will work better in the snow. I'm on Mulefut 80 wheels and don't really plan to change them for now.

    Thanks!

  166. #166
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    The J5 is 0.1Ē narrower on a Mulefut vs a 100mm rim. The picture below is of them side by side, both tubeless (80mm on left, 100mm on right). They work just fine on the Mulefut and allow my friend to run them on his Big Jon whereas on the 100mm they were too tight.

    Testing one, two.-d439b820-9a15-44c6-9c35-2b50dbf781f7.jpg
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Nothing to see here, move along folks.

  167. #167
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dilligaff View Post
    The J5 is 0.1Ē narrower on a Mulefut vs a 100mm rim. The picture below is of them side by side, both tubeless (80mm on left, 100mm on right). They work just fine on the Mulefut and allow my friend to run them on his Big Jon whereas on the 100mm they were too tight.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Interesting. It sort of sounds like you're saying .1" difference is no big deal? And then you're saying that because it allowed him to use them that it is?

    Width makes a difference at the lowest pressures being run. Probably not much difference at pressures above 3 or 4. A lot depends on the snow, the rider, the experience, the expectations.

  168. #168
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    Both bikes highlighted in these tests are running droppers full time. Invaluable for remounting in soft snow.

    Both bikes use Hopey dampers.

    Mine also has the Cane Creek ViscoSet, set on full/max damping. I wouldn't argue with more damping, as crazy as that sounds, and as unrideable as the bike feels when you get onto a not-snow surface.
    ^^^^
    Yes! Yes! The only dropper I have is on my Fatty (100mm w/J5 tires) to help with just that! Remounting in soft snow. Terrific!

  169. #169
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    Mike, have you tried the durometer device on any of the latest tires?

  170. #170
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    Interesting. It sort of sounds like you're saying .1" difference is no big deal? And then you're saying that because it allowed him to use them that it is?

    Width makes a difference at the lowest pressures being run. Probably not much difference at pressures above 3 or 4. A lot depends on the snow, the rider, the experience, the expectations.
    Not what Iím saying at all. The tires are tight on his Big Jon, not quite as much on my NTB. Like you, I need as much width as I can get, which is why I run them on 100mm rims. They are the largest that will fit my bike and I think theyíre perfect for our icy trails mixed with lots of crappy snow. Iíll gladly take the extra 0.1Ē and have seen places it kept me going when his broke through. Most of the time it doesnít matter but I dislike my gear being the limitation.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Nothing to see here, move along folks.

  171. #171
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    Quote Originally Posted by bme107 View Post
    Mike, have you tried the durometer device on any of the latest tires?

    Nope. It was good to use it to determine the cause of snow sticking to the black 2XL's. Snow hasn't stuck to anything else (so far) so I haven't seen a need.

  172. #172
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    Quote Originally Posted by lRaphl View Post
    Mike, I know you've been testing the J5 and 2XL on 100mm+ rims but what do you think of both of them on narrower rims?

    I'm asking because the Minion FBF that came on my RSD Mayor has started to deform lately and I finally have a good reason to change my FBR/FB combo for something that will work better in the snow. I'm on Mulefut 80 wheels and don't really plan to change them for now.

    Thanks!

    I don't have experience with them on 80mm rims.

    That said, almost anything is better (on snow) than an FBF, so flip a coin and go with that.

  173. #173
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    traction vs inertia and float

    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    we agreed wholeheartedly that the 2XL gave much, much better traction than the J5.


    I wonder whether/how much a 2XL in front with J5 in back might work usefully better than paired J5s.



  174. #174
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    Wanted to check back in one last time to add another data point: 2XL has noticeably better traction when climbing steep or off camber spring/corn snow.









    You can read more about the conditions we had HERE.

  175. #175
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    Quote Originally Posted by SADDLE TRAMP View Post
    As I remember, at one time, you were detracting the onyx hubs for the 'wind-up' that you experienced when standing upon the pedals at a standstill.

    Seems like that quality has a positive side?

    When I first rode an Onyx hub on a loaded bike I noticed and wondered about the different non-harsh feel. Posted about it wondering if anyone else had noticed, and if it was supposed to feel that way.

    Ultimately came to love it, for the reasons elucidated here.

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