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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

  4. #4
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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!!!!
    " ...the moonlit swamp Krampus is a king among bikes." - geraldooka

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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.
    Deceleration Trauma is my middle name

  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.
    "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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  18. #18
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    Thanks for taking the time Jayem. Appreciate the info.
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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.

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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...

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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.

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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.

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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
    " ...the moonlit swamp Krampus is a king among bikes." - geraldooka

    15 Surly Krampus
    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; 4 Weeks Ago 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:	485 
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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?

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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:	485 
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?

  80. #80
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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.

  83. #83
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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?

  84. #84
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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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