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Best of Times and...

Cam McRae's Best of 2020

Words Cam McRae
Date Jan 6, 2021
Reading time

Steel Frames and Small(er) Wheels in the age of COVID-19

*Cover shot - Adrian Marcoux (on what may have been my best ride of 2020)

What an awesome year! So stoked! I'm sort of joking but not entirely, because once the dust settled on the first COVID-19 surge, it was an amazing year to be a mountain biker. It wasn't perfect, because international travel was off the table, hitting your favourite bike park was problematic, and heading to the pub after a ride wasn't possible for most riders outside of New Zealand. Living on islands has its advantages.

Beyond that though, it's been possible to get out and ride, even with a buddy or two at a social distance. You also may have noticed that mountain biking has exploded as other folks have cottoned on to the fun we've been having all this time. People who are gym rats or who play volleyball exclusively must be losing their minds.

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Riding a hardtail again has been invigorating as hell, and using my new skills (see below) allowed me to keep pace with my buddies on their 170mm travel super bikes on some trails, and that made it even more fun. What's next? 26ers? V-brakes? My DH racer buddy thinks I've lost my mind and keeps asking me what point I'm trying to make.

The most golden period around here was the early COVID lock down in parks that kept everyone, except cyclists off both Mount Seymour and Cypress. Even hikers were prohibited. We'd ride up the wide roads five abreast, occasionally having to change formation for a service vehicle, and easily adhere to social distancing. The weather was pretty good, the trails were mostly deserted, and we rode our faces off. Safely. Mostly.

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What's the rationale for 29" wheels again? Aside from beating your buddies to the bottom that is. If you mountain bike for fun, enjoy tipping your bike into corners and hopping off every bump on the trail, you might want to rethink those big wheels. That was what the new Santa Cruz Nomad was trying to convince me at least.

One big surprise this year was that two of my favourite bikes were new takes on old ideas; small wheels in the form of the Santa Cruz Nomad, and the Kona Honzo ESD, a 29er hardtail with modern geometry. Both were so much fun I was questioning what I thought to be true. Why are 29ers better for the terrain we ride again? Isn't it better to have more fun?

Aside from the ban on travel, I've had one of my best years riding bikes ever. I've been having more fun, going faster, riding moves I never expected to conquer, and generally getting drunk on stoke. There are lots of reasons for that, several of them are in my list below marked with a *.

Learning to Ride (on Modern Bikes)**

I never dreamed I'd be descending my best at this stage in my life but, aside from drops to flat, and sending A-Line, pretty much everything has improved. I'm riding more confidently, crashing less, (knock knock) carrying more speed, and riding features I used to avoid like the COVIDs. Much of the credit for this goes to Ben Wallace, World Cup racer, Pinkbike Academy runner up, and my buddy's kid. After joining us for a ride, Ben mentioned some of the errors we were all making to his dad, Mike. Based on his comments, or my interpretation of them, I made some changes and my riding improved immediately.

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Two of B.C.'s most promising young downhillers, Ben Wallace following Elliot Jamieson, practicing cornering under the tutelage of Joel Harwood. Photo - Cam McRae

This got me hot under the collar to learn more so I recruited one of Ben's coaches, Joel Harwood of Blueprint Athlete Development in Squamish B.C., to get some one on one instruction and get clear on the finer points of going fast on mountain bikes. First I watched Joel coach Ben and his young ripper buddies riding through cones, and a week later Joel put me and some of my old bastard buddies through the same treatment. Riding cones on gravel is a great motivation to learn how to corner, because failure involves picking bits of rock out of your elbows. Two of us did that – two times each.

Standing up taller and weighting my hands more has made the biggest difference, and when I do that everything seems to click. It's impossible for me to overstate the difference Joel's (and Ben's) insights have made to my riding. If you are interested in more detail about what I learned, you can check out, Cure Your "2006 Posture" with Cone Training.

Long Droppers*

Dropper posts were an innovation I didn't know I needed, even after they first arrived. Around here we generally do a long pedal up and then a long ride down, so open and closing a QR hardly seemed to matter. And I made the same mistake with long droppers. When I had 125mm I thought it was great. I told myself I liked my post a little higher so I could pedal sitting down if needed, like DH racers do, but when I first tried a 150 drop I was sold. The same thing happened with 175. I skipped 200 at first and went straight to a OneUp 210mm drop, thinking I would reduce the extension to perhaps 190, but I loved every millimetre. I may have finally found my limit though because when I go back to 200mm I'm pretty happy.

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My beloved Yeti SB150 with the excellent OneUp 210mm dropper. Photo - Cam McRae

Long droppers allow me to angle the bike more in corners or in the air (or they would if I could do that) and move more easily through the vertical plane above the saddle when a dynamic move is required. The one down side I discovered is that even us long-legged types can find our ass crack in contact with a spinning knobby tire with so much clearance, which is quite unnerving. At first I didn't know if I'd adjust to this but now I'm rarely reamed by my own bicycle.

I discovered another reason why long droppers are important riding the Trek Slash. The bike is great but I have an issue with the slack actual seat angle which puts me back above the rear wheel when I'm climbing.because of my long legs. It also means that when the saddle is down it's further forward than I am used to, and this is exaggerated by the necessity to push the saddle forward on its rails to improve the climbing position. This means when the saddle is down it interferes with my front leg when cornering or manuevering over and around obstacles. The bike ships with a 170mm post, which I can generally live with, but because of this geo peculiarity, it wasn't enough.

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That's a lot of post you're showing there fellah! Bike Yoke made the 225mm Revive Ultramax as a proof of concept and to see if it would generate interest - but owner Stefan "Sacki" Sack told me it's "a tease." It's my first Bike Yoke post I've used and it's as good as everyone says. The Revive function is incredible, it's smoother than David Hasselhof, and the quality of manufacturing, right down to the rifling on the outer post, is impressive. Also shown, Bike Yoke Sagma saddle, which I'm loving so far. Photo - Cam McRae

I told Sacki of Bike Yoke about my woes and he sent me a prototype post with a whopping 225mm drop. Based on the Bike Yoke Revive Max which currently can only be purchased in a 185mm drop, the Max is available in 34.9mm only and it features a 28mm (outside diameter) stanchion for increased stiffness and reliability. Other manufacturers use the same internals and stanchions from their 30.9 or 31.6 posts for 34.9 posts, failing to take advantage of the possibilities of the larger diameter, as I discussed with Sacki earlier.

Fitting the Revive Max 225 (code name: ULTRAMAX) turned out to be problematic at first because there didn't seem to be enough insertion in the Slash frame so I could actually only use about 210mm of the 225, but then I realized the actuator of the Bike Yoke post could be rotated without tools and I found the sweet spot and dropped the post enough to use every mm. There are two versions of the prototype post, one with extra bushing overlap and a total inserted length of 320mm, and one with standard overlap and a max inserted length of 298 mm, which I am using. The post is incredible and with the new Triggy Alpha cartridge bearing remote, which I like almost as much as the PNW Loam Lever, it's the smoothest post I've ridden.

If you are tall, or extremely long of leg, and haven't tried a long dropper, I highly recommend it.

Riding Pants (or Trousers across the Pond)

Last winter I had some good success riding in long pants from Pearl Izumi and NF and I really enjoyed the experience. It keeps the mud off your gear and it's certainly warmer, but neither of those is fully waterproof, and I hadn't yet used pants in the warm season. This year I've been riding in Patagonia's (mostly) excellent Dirt Roamer pants, and a pair of yet-to-be written-up 7mesh Thunders, both of which are durably waterproof, and it's truly a joy. We've had some incredibly shitty weather lately and riding either one of those gets me out the door on days when I'd normally just look out the window and pine for trails.

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The Patagonia Dirt Roamer Storm pants in action. Photo - Deniz Merdano

Photographer Deniz Merdano found out another reason for wearing pants when he crashed recently. He managed a large impact split in his shin that required 9 stitches to close. Normally mountain bike injuries are filled with nasty debris and you're destined for the house of pain as the doctor scrubs out your wound. Instead all that was required was a quick saline rinse because Deniz was wearing long pants.

They also help to keep your feet dry, provide a little protection and look pretty damned stylish. In the shoulder season I've been wearing a set of NF DP3s and I love putting them on. They have lots of stretch, excellent pockets, and a nice light fabric that resists abrasion very well. And they are comfy as a Mike Tyson hug. Or something.

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Putting on my NF DP3 pants makes me happy even before I saddle up. So does the Kona Honzo ESD. Photo - Deniz Merdano

POC VPD AIR "Fabio" Ed. Knee Armour

I've always been reluctant to pull on low pro knee protection. If you are going to go to all that trouble, shouldn't you be sure they're going to work? So I've dealt with slightly heavier, warmer, and sometimes less comfortable protection in order to be sure the job gets done. I know some riders who use lighter knees for more mellow rides, but who hasn't had a bad digger on a ridiculously easy section of trail? It almost seems like it happens more often that way.

At first glance Fabio Wibmer's signature knees were in that category. They looked small and they're very light, but closer inspection revealed some intelligent details. First off, they extend well above the knee, which is an area that very commonly gets smoked hard enough to make the Pope curse. The same goes with lateral protection, which extends efficiently but generously around the sides of your patella.

The padding material is Poc's version of D3O, a non-newtonian polymer dough that is highly flexible until it hardens when an impact is encountered. I haven't taken a big digger yet but I'm cautiously optimistic about the outcome. Until then I'll be both pedalling and descending in comfort wearing these low profile but high coverage pads that fit well under every pair of riding pants I've tried. The VPD Air Fabio's are also a relative bargain at 90 USD. Thanks Fab!

Tannus Tubeless*

After my mediocre experience on the Tannus tubed insert solution, I wasn't bursting with optimism about round II with the tubeless version, but my lack of enthusiasm didn't last. They aren't much to look at; relatively stiff salmon-coloured rings in an extremely odd shape, but they work wonders. They weigh 160 grams in 29" but they punch much heavier.

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This cross section isn't an accurate representation of what's going on because the tire isn't inflated making the profile look flat, but you can see how the wings work to provide excellent sidewall support and how the bead locks in.

Because the centre is hollow, with four vents to allow the air in each chamber to equalize, they work a little like Schwalbe's ProCore, or like an air shock for that matter. They are easy to install* and they provide excellent sidewall support for cornering, excellent tire and rim protection, and they allow outrageously low pressures without any vague feeling or squirm. I regularly run 14 front and 16 rear when conditions are nasty and I'm riding steep trails that require lots of grip. And the traction is off the charts. Wet roots begin to look like velcro, and slimy rock faces become islands of safety. The reduced volume in the outer air chamber even makes your suspension work more effectively,

My full Tannus Tubeless review is here.

*I installed two in under thirty minutes, starting from aired up tires on the bike and finishing completely installed, because it's not necessary to remove both tire beads

Honourable Mentions:

Neutron First Aid Kit

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Mount the Neutron first aid kit to your saddle or your frame and don't think about it again until you need it. Everything inside is in ziplock bags and it weighs only 55g.

Neutron from New Zealand sent us several of these kits so we'd increase the odds of using one of them on an actual injury. They weigh just 55g and have lots of stuff to clean and dress wounds and get you out including nitrile gloves, bandaids, stern-strips, duct tape, and a couple of dressings. The kits weigh in at only 55g so you can just strap it on your bike and forget about it until you need it. More info here.

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You aren't going to be able to deal with all of the potential injuries you might encounter, but you'll be well equipped for most.

Topeak's Accurate Floor Pumps

Before this year I was used to gauges on floor pumps being like clocks that are right twice a day, but two from Topeak changed my mind and saved me a bunch of time before every ride. It used to be that I would pump to where I thought I should be, remove the pump head, attach a gauge to check pressure, remove the gauge and re-attach the pump head etc. until I hit my desired pressure. Both the digital gauge on Topeak's Joe Blow Pro Digital and the analog gauge on the Joe Blow Mountain X are so reliably accurate that I no longer pull out the gauge afterwards. This saves me a bunch of time and I am always confident about my tire pressure.

The Mountain X is incredible value at 50 USD but it won't help you pump up anything high pressure because of the heavy volume it pushes with each stroke. The Pro Digital will take longer to inflate a high volume tire but it will do a road tire easily, and the . In fact small people might have a hard time getting much over 25psi (I'm not kidding), but you'll be able to inflate your tire in no time. Check out my review of both here.

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High volume, a dual head, and an analog gauge for 50 USD on your left, and small volume, a smart head which adjusts for either Schrader or presta automatically, and a high mounted digital gauge for 125 USD on your right. Photo - Cam McRae

Thanks for tuning in to our little corner of the internet in 2020. We'll be charging in 2021 to bring you more quality content.

HNY!

cam@nsmb.com
Cam McRae

Age - 55

Height - 6'/183cm (mostly legs)

Weight - 160lbs/72.5kg

Ape Index - 0.986

Inseam - 32"/81cm

Trail I've been stoked on lately - Fifth Horseman

Bar Width - 760mm

Preferred Reach - 475-490mm

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Comments

Vikb
+6 Allen Lloyd AJ Barlas Mammal jaydubmah ManInSteel Velocipedestrian
Vik Banerjee  - Jan. 6, 2021, 5:36 a.m.

It makes me happy every time I read about someone re-discovering their hardtail stoke on a modern geo frame. Also thanks for the Tannus Tubeless review. It motivated me to get over my insert skepticism and try one. For the back of my hardtail it's a great product. I added steri-strips to my bike "tool kit" after a particularly viscous pedal to shin incident had me get 9 staples this summer. And MTB pants have become my go to for Van Isle winter riding after a decade of being hardcore in shorts during the dark/moist part of the year.

On the speed issue you mentioned I stopped using Strava in 2020, rode hardtails a ton and had just as much fun as ever in the forest even if my "segment" times were slower. So hardtails, 275ers, downcountry, etc... if it puts a smile on your face it's the right call. Whether you are 1000th or 1001st on the Strava Leaderboard doesn't matter at all.

All the best for 2021.

Reply

mammal
+1 Vik Banerjee
Mammal  - Jan. 6, 2021, 8:44 a.m.

I also went Tannus, also on my hard tail, and also largely because of Cam's glowing review. I run them front and back, and I won't be able to do without them now. In fact, I have a feeling they'll have found their way onto my suspension bike by next season.

Reply

Vikb
0
Vik Banerjee  - Jan. 6, 2021, 9:45 a.m.

I haven't put one in the front tire on my hardtail yet. I do have a second one so I may need to try that. How do you find the front insert improves your HT ride?

Reply

mammal
+1 Vik Banerjee
Mammal  - Jan. 6, 2021, 10:28 a.m.

Basically the same as the rear, but it's more about the traction and support. I run regular EXO casings, so I only go down about 2psi from my normal hard tail pressures, but the traction on wet roots and slimy off-camber rock is absolutely crazy. Especially considering my fairly pedestrian choice of Maxterra compound.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+1 Vik Banerjee
Cam McRae  - Jan. 6, 2021, 10:47 a.m.

Nice Vik!

It's interesting how many people start with an insert in the rear. Obviously it depends on your goals, but for grip and trail feel, rather than rim/flat protection, the front is certainly more important. If I had to choose, for the riding I do most of the time, I'd prioritize the front. Both is the best solution though. 

I have Strava and I think there are some people who follow me, but I never use it. I like the idea of documenting my rides in some way but I can't stand anything that takes me out of the experience.

Reply

velocipedestrian
+1 Cam McRae
Velocipedestrian  - Jan. 7, 2021, 10:27 p.m.

Those Germans have a nice piece which pleasantly rubbed my confirmation bias about deleting strava.

I'd found myself feeling disappointed if a ride that felt good was slower than expected. Unless you're racing, how fast you went is a shitty metric for a good ride. 

I'm all about the smiles-per-hour again since removing the virtual race from my fun.

Reply

gdharries
0
Geof Harries  - Jan. 6, 2021, 7 a.m.

That’s cool you’ve had fun on hardtails and have been appreciative of smaller wheels. I ride a 27.5” wheeled bike for the same reasons, even though I'm somewhat tall.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+2 ManInSteel Geof Harries
Cam McRae  - Jan. 6, 2021, 11:08 a.m.

Now that is a lot of post!

Reply

gdharries
+1 Cam McRae
Geof Harries  - Jan. 6, 2021, 11:51 a.m.

Haha. Yep, it is.

Hence my whining about ever-shortening seat tubes and people saying "Just get a longer dropper post" when here's how a 170 mm post looks. I ride an XL Process with a 485 mm seat tube and it's bordering on too short.

Good thing more than half of its time, this particular bike has the saddle dropped. You know, for the sake of its self esteem.

Reply

craw
+1 Geof Harries
Cr4w  - Jan. 6, 2021, 3 p.m.

This makes a pretty compelling argument for longer rear centers (or at least the option to lengthen) so that people with this kind of extension can maintain some kind of front-rear balance on the bike.

Reply

khai
+1 Geof Harries
khai  - Jan. 6, 2021, 3:41 p.m.

Mutators!  The configurability and capacity to significantly alter the geo well post-purchase is a huge motivating factor for my next bike to be a Nicolai.  Add to it the gearbox option and it really is compelling.  Too bad they're so damned spendy once you land the frame and build it up, or opt for a complete build.

Reply

gdharries
0
Geof Harries  - Jan. 6, 2021, 4:30 p.m.

I’ve not spent much time thinking about extended rear centres, hmm. Oh great, here I go. Down the rabbit hole.

I do know that with most bikes I feel like I’m wheelie’ing everywhere as soon as it’s slightly uphill. It’s not until I really weight the front wheel that it starts to balance out again.

The typical answer to this is to get a bike with a steeper seat tube angle. Problem is, when I demo those my saddle is jacked up so high (820 mm) that it’s looks completely ridiculous. I need a steep seat tube, long rear centre, long seat tube and a high stack.

I guess I need to go custom one day. Or does someone make this dream bike?

Reply

gotama
+1 Cam McRae
Gotama  - Jan. 6, 2021, 7:03 a.m.

Cam re the Tannus. I don't think you mentioned it in your review but apologies if I missed it. Did you settle on using a DH/DoubleDown casing tyre with the insert or a lighter casing such as Exo/Exo+?

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Jan. 6, 2021, 10:50 a.m.

I'm on either EXO or EXO+ but I only weigh about 160 right now. I've also been opting for lighter rims for testing purposes because I haven't been breaking or damaging any.

Reply

craigwu
+5 Cr4w Vik Banerjee Cam McRae Pete Roggeman ManInSteel
Craig Wu  - Jan. 6, 2021, 7:15 a.m.

Turned 50 in 2020 and got my first “modern” geo MTB as well. Started riding MTB in 1989 and thought I had it all figured out until I suddenly ended up on the ground several times in the first few months of the new bike wondering WTF just happened?!? Usually on the ridiculously easy parts of trail too. I’ve been actively re-evaluating my bike position and how I ride and am psyched to keep learning, as I’ve also had some amazing experiences on my new bike as well - riding steeper tech and bigger drops than ever before. Just ordered a set of cones to practice my flat corners after reading your article - new tricks for this old dog. Thanks for a really great site and looking forward to 2021!

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+1 Craig Wu
Cam McRae  - Jan. 6, 2021, 10:53 a.m.

Nice work Craig! Progression is addictive. If there is high quality instruction, in either a group or one on one setting, I highly recommend it. It's really hard to know what you are doing wrong without a practiced eye evaluating for you. Also freelap - particularly if you can borrow it because it's pricey - will tell you when you are doing it right. So fun to see the times go down even as your control improves.

Reply

craw
+3 Mammal Vik Banerjee Pete Roggeman
Cr4w  - Jan. 6, 2021, 7:18 a.m.

Wow so many of us really are on the same trip. I spent the first half of 2020 on a progressive hardtail and absolutely loved it. I also tried Cushcore but ultimately swapped to Tannus, which I think suit my style more. Inserts were absolutely mandatory for hard hardtail riding. Otherwise I would be increasing pressure for support but without rear suspension I'd be skipping all over the place; inserts made for a happy balance I didn't think I'd find. I've been using EXO+ the whole time happily.

Now that I have a FS bike that I really like the question is what shape will my hardtail take now?

Reply

mrbrett
+3 Mammal Pete Roggeman khai
mrbrett  - Jan. 6, 2021, 10:08 a.m.

Really! Here too:

Modern hardtail

Tannus

Pants

Long drop post

There should be a combo kit. Add-to-cart

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+1 Pete Roggeman
Cam McRae  - Jan. 6, 2021, 11 a.m.

That's impressive that someone of your size can get away with EXO+ and Tannus Cr4w. I actually put Cushcore on the hardtail and I love it. A little more weight but the damped feel is really positive. Tannus in the front and Cushcore in the rear might be a good combo but I haven't yet done Tannus on the HT at all so it will be a good comparison.

I also suspect that Tannus might make more sense for riders across a wider weight range because it seems to me, as you go up in pressure the support the insert gives you increases, while that is more static with Cushcore.

I've also been wondering about playing with the 4 relief holes in Tannus. I wonder what it would be like if two of the holes were glued shut slowing the transfer of air on impact the way increasing the compression in your fork does? Or maybe making each of the holes a little smaller. It'll be interesting to see if they come out with a V2, but I don't at this point have the impression the folks at Tannus are experimenting and doing R&D the way Cushcore and FTD are for example, but I could be wrong.

mrbrett - aren't you a DH racer? Will your friends still talk to you if they see you on a hardtail? LOL. It used to be that many downhillers would spend part of the winter training on a hardtail because of how it improves your riding but that no longer seems to happen. I remember seeing Andrew Shandro doing that on Fromme 25 years ago.

I don't know of a better way to learn to read the terrain and smooth it out as well or as effectively as going to hardtail school, although Andrew Major might say it's being sent to the full rigid Gulag.

Reply

mrbrett
+1 Cam McRae
mrbrett  - Jan. 6, 2021, 2:09 p.m.

No Cam! Not a racer at all* unless we are eating competitively. But, I haven't had a hardtail in a while and learning to ride smooth again will be engaging.

*Though, I believe most Bretts I have met also at least ride bikes, if not do it "seriously". Demographics.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Jan. 6, 2021, 9:32 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

TannusArmour
+1 colemaneddie
TannusArmour  - Jan. 7, 2021, 9:22 a.m.

Guys - Thanks for the Stoke!! We heard about Cam & Trevor's recommendations on here, and the comments are awesome! Thanks guys. 

Cam - In regards to a V2, we are working on it. People love the current insert, so we don't plan on changing it, rather offering a few other options (one designated as a front specific insert, is a fun one that I can talk about). 

Pro-Tip, I've done this as an experiment, and a lot of our local riders have followed suit if you want to try this. Take a big drill bit and drill holes all over the side of the insert and top of the insert. The holes are much smaller than you'd expect. I've done this on mine and dropped around 30-40g and don't feel a difference in front tire ride quality. It voids the warranty, but it's a fun experiment if you want to try messing around with it!

- Sterling at Tannus

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Jan. 8, 2021, 11:46 a.m.

That's a great one Sterling. Do you have a photo you could share with us to give us a better idea of the size? Thanks!

Glad to be proven wrong!

Reply

TannusArmour
0
TannusArmour  - Jan. 9, 2021, 6:07 a.m.

The bit is roughly a 7/32” (very American of me) but the holes it produces are much smaller than the bit surprisingly. 

I’m down riding in Sedona this weekend or I would send pictures!

Reply

rolly
0
rolly  - Jan. 10, 2021, 10:45 a.m.

Cam, or anyone other Tannus users, how do you find the tires climb with these low pressures?  Obviously traction will be there, but does it become sluggish?

Reply

Tbone
0
Trevor Hansen  - Jan. 11, 2021, 5:47 p.m.

Hey Rolly I'll climb into Cam's thing - they are slow as when the pressure is down where we like it. So yes very sluggish and very noticeable on pavement and gravel climbs. If I am doing a big climb I pump up the volume then let it out for the down. When we climb back up for more (usually when Pete is not making us end early to beer down) I suffer with the low pressure and just remember how much better riding is with these low insert pressures.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Jan. 15, 2021, 11:33 p.m.

I don't notice the same slow down as Trevor does actually and I suspect it's in his head. It may sound like I'm joking here but I'm not actually. Trevor also claims to be able to feel the difference in weight between a full and empty water bottle, and again I'm skeptical.

Reply

Tbone
+1 rolly
Trevor Hansen  - Jan. 16, 2021, 8:41 p.m.

To be clear I notice climbing while pedalling my bike. Cam tends to hike his bike uphill so perhaps his water bottle psi optimism is half full.

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Jan. 17, 2021, 9:03 p.m.

LOL Trevor. What I notice is that if we're coasting back from a trail on pavement, I'm as fast or faster as dudes without inserts, which is about the best way to test rolling resistance in isolation. Trevor's metrics are, "it sort of feels slower," which adds the variables of what he was eating and how much he was drinking the night before.

HeavyFlow
+2 4Runner1 Cam McRae
Hank Sola  - Jan. 6, 2021, 12:51 p.m.

Similar story;  49 years old, riding since the late 80's, just got my *first* hardtail ever in 2020 (went from fully rigid in 1988 - not counting a Girven flex stem and Koski fork - to fully suspended in 1996).  Just stopped wearing a chamois and looking into pants.  but I still see no need for inserts.  I run 20psi on both bikes (27.5x2.6EXO+x30mm, and a 29x2.3EXOx27mm) and I never flat and never destroy rims.   Not in New England and not in SoCal.  I am 180lbs wo gear and ride hard and aggressively.    Maybe if I go into the 14psi range I would appreciate them, but I hate the idea of adding the grams to the worst place on the bike (outer rotating mass).

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Jan. 17, 2021, 9:08 p.m.

Inserts are very terrain dependent. There are lots of places I can imagine riding where I'd have no need for them. Around here they are a huge asset. I was without inserts today for the first time in several rides and it was exciting, but I was slower and less in control. And it was probably a little less enjoyable as a result, despite the thrill of the occasional terrifying moment.

Reply

khai
+1 Vik Banerjee
khai  - Jan. 6, 2021, 1:14 p.m.

I feel a bit guilty that 2020 really wasn't that bad for me. Sure some trips were cancelled and I didn't get to spend as much time with friends/family as I'd liked - but I kept my job, found additional work in the industry, rode a lot, and progressed my skills.

As appears to have been the trend I spent the majority of the year on a modern/aggressive HT. Might have to give those 2nd gen Tannus inserts a try. I run CushCore on most of my bikes but am always open to there being something better.  Maybe up front in the HT to start...

Reply

Ripmoslow
+1 Cam McRae
Ripmoslow  - Jan. 6, 2021, 5:20 p.m.

Better cornering is my goal for this season. Every now and then again I catch myself with my weight too far back on corners and steeper terrain. I need to sign up for a lesson (hopefully they can be offered) this summer, pick up some cones and get out on some gravel. I’ll remember to put on some elbow pads, or if it’s really not going well, my Dainese suit from 2001 and really commit.

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martyz
+2 Vik Banerjee Cam McRae
Marty Zaleski  - Jan. 6, 2021, 10:06 p.m.

Another voice in support of Tannus here. I found myself this summer getting rear-wheel sidewall pinch flats pretty much every ride on my EXO and e-thirteen TR casings, when running anything less than about 27 PSI. I had blamed it on the ENVE rims (and still think they’re partly culpable, with how stiff and thin-beaded they are), as I’d gone years without flatting on aluminum rims. Then I dropped in a Tannus and haven’t flatted since. I can even run <20 PSI if it’s slick and slow and techy. Grip is pretty great too. Threw one in the front after a few hard bottom-outs and have been stoked. TLDR: Tannus good, ENVE bad.

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StacheTower16
+1 Vik Banerjee
StacheTower16  - Jan. 7, 2021, 3:58 p.m.

Wow. I didn't realize that I have been secretly copying Cam for 2020! I've decided that modern hardtails will be my thing for 2021. Getting ready to install my Tannus Tubeless for said hardtails. And fell in love with Bikeyoke and long droppers. So I'm really happy to read this article and the comments to see I'm not the only one!

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cam@nsmb.com
+1 StacheTower16
Cam McRae  - Jan. 7, 2021, 6:01 p.m.

I feel the same. It’s nice to know there are so many of you who have come to the same conclusion!

Now you need to get some ‘trousers’ and Fabio Wibmer’s pads! Actually I should probably ask you what I’m missing out on!

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