Beau and I got new unicycles today. That is, we installed 29er tubes into our Hunter36s and now fly up hills faster. We went out with Bronson and Rob for 7 1/2 hours of fun. In that long time, we only rode about 30 miles, but what a 30 miles! We climbed and descended over 4000’ and most of that was on dirt roads, some rocky and lots steep.
It’s a trail that I’ve only ridden all the way up once before - that was on Muni a few years ago with many dismounts. Earlier this year, Bronson, Rob and Scot did it on Coker, but the idea of riding continuously up these sections was far from anyone’s mind. Enter the 29er tube. It is such a radically different feeling. The first hard part is a climb of about 1000’ which was hard before (even Beau was walking last time on Coker). This time we never thought of dismounting. After a rest, we headed up the second section. Even though the fog had lifted and the temp was shooting up to about 90F, we cruised the infamous “Wall” section - Beau dismount-free and me with one caused by a microscopic rock. Unbelievable. This was a really hard Muni climb a couple years ago with 170mm cranks.
From there, we had rough rolling fireroads for a while, then a several mile descent that was very steep. The 152mm cranks felt like 125s and we cranked on the brakes hard. After a stop for lunch and to repair a flat (thorn that Beau had picked up), we headed back to Aptos via all small back-roads. Quite a bit of climbing in those last few miles.
Training does pay off. My legs feel now as if I didn’t ride this weekend - amazing. Bring on the Alps. I would say that it will take some time to get used to the new cycles. We each had some UPDs on the rough road that we wouldn’t’ve had with the heavier cycles. And it’s possible that the thorn that caused Beau’s flat might not have with a Coker tube. But no matter, we’re either sticking with these or eventually upgrading to tubeless.
Here is a link to some photos - and GPS track links are in the gallery. Also a link where you can race Bronson’s GPS against mine. Photos etc.
Let me know what you think of the new hosting site, Smugmug. I have given up on WebShots forever.
Sounds as if the Alps are going to be a piece of cake for you guys. Interesting that lighter tubes make such difference when ascending. But they also seem to give a bit lesser control. Did you ever think about changing to the smoother Qu-ax tyres?
That woudn’t have happened with tubeless . And you save the same weight as well as get a more supple ride. I’m still a bit curious about the number of people getting punctures/blowouts with 29’er tubes- surely the extra effort in changing and repairing each punture would be better spent going tubeless in the first place?
Mr Chicken the II: I think once you get used to a lighter wheel it handles better because you have more control over the wheel, not the other way around. Dropping 250g of rotational inertia is like giving you an extra gear- riding 125mm cranks feel like 150’s would previously.
That looks like a really cool ride Nathan. Oh, Smugmug looks classier than Webshots too. I like how they have a large picture as well as the thumbnails.
Nathan, I have to wonder if the reason your blowing up these previously difficult hills is because you’ve been training so hard for the Alps. Certainly, your very in tune with your strength and I don’t doubt your noticing a difference because of the tubes. I’m just wondering if you might think its partially because of all your recent training.
That’s amazing that the lighter tube makes that much difference. How much is the weight difference?
Nick, believe me: anyone would notice the difference who has ridden a Coker before. However it is not quite what Mr Comedian Wallis suggests, an alternative to training. You would maybe call it “squirrelly” or “more responsive” or “harder to control” as well as lighter. But once you get used to it, all you would say is that it’s lighter and better.
Could I have done the same ride with the old tube? Absolutely. Climbed as easily? No. The day after the ride I have no feeling at all that I rode - no soreness, usedness, literally I cannot tell that I did that ride yesterday. Would that be the same with the heavier wheel? Maybe but somehow I doubt it. It’s a much bigger difference than you would ever predict just from the fact: I reduced 260g of weight from the outside of the wheel.
But I have Maybe I didnt’ emphasise the point enough- do a search on ‘tubeless tyre’ and you should come up with a few threads where I rave about it.
Anyway, a tubeless tyre is:
as light as using a 29’er inner tube- save ~250g/wheel
stops small flats because of the Stans Goop that seals up small holes
Big holes will give you a flat regardless of whether you are using tubess or not. But the Coker tyre is pretty thick, so unless you ride over a kitchen knife pointed straight up, it doesn’t happen often
Rides nice because it has a more supple feel (= less rubber).
It’s soaks up bumps better
Is just as easy and cheap to put on if you allow for the fact that people have blown up several 29’er tubes in the process of getting them on
No worries about pinchflatting
you can run whatever pressure you like. Put it down real soft for off-road
Did I mention it rides nicer?
p/s It’s still going well- 1x24hr Record attempt, 1x12hr Mountainbike race and 1x160km Road race later. Soon to include the Alps on that list.
pp/s I noticed a heap of difference when I went from the Standard Coker Spokes to Tommy Millers SS spokes too- you save just as much weight (if not more), although it’s slightly closer in to the wheel. Add Tommy Miller spokes and tubeless together, and you’ll want to ride your Coker all day and all night.
Actually, I have read all of your threads about it with great interest. That’s why the big
I recently got my awesome Livewire (Stockton) wheel and noticed a lot of difference over the stock Coker wheel. Now that I am used to that, I may be ready for the next step.
Thanks for all the info on the tubless, Ken. We may be slow to accept, but we have been paying attention.
So what do you think of using this to your advantage in future training situations? Maybe you do 75% of your training on the “heavy” wheel to build muscle and endurance and then switch to the “light” wheel for the last 25%. That way, your getting used to the “squirrelly”-ness before the main event.
This could become a new training technique - like jogging with weights.
Came across this old thread and wanted to update to reflect all our experience with the setup after getting used to it. Beau and I completed the Alps tour on the 29er tubes with no problems or flats. The “squirrellyness” goes away after a little while and you feel that you have just as much control as ever. That happened after just a couple of big rides. So the 29er tube is a HUGE win over the Coker tube for performance, but has two definite drawbacks:
Tricky to install - people are still trying it and having lots of trouble. Dave Stockton has written up what I consider to be the correct instructions as a LiveWire Technical article. If you are considering this upgrade, read that article.
Reduced resistence to punctures.
I attempted to go tubeless a couple of weeks ago but failed in my first two attempts to get the tire inflated and gave up - need more mental power. It is just such a pain hassling with equipment when I would rather be out riding.
To tell the truth, Beau, Bronson and I are all back to riding Coker tubes. Beau had another little flat a month ago and when we patched it, I managed to trash the tube. Again, lacking mental power, I just stuck a Coker tube in. Bronson had a slow leaker on halfway through the Alps Tour and decided to switch back just to avoid hassles on the tour. After I gave up on the tubeless project for now, I also trashed my 29er tube sticking it back in, so reverted to Coker. Megumi is using a 29er tube on her new LiveWire/Hunter cycle though and loves it. No flats or problems. Here are some photos of her beautiful machine.
Finally, on tubeless vs 29er tube: if you do the math, I think you’ll find that the weight of Stan’s strip plus the sealant is more than the weight of the 29er tube. But eliminating drawback #2 above is a very big plus for tubeless. However it increases “Trickyness of installation” to new levels.
I’m intrigued by the Wallis Design RoadRelift saddle. Is Megumi finding the cutout setup to be more comfortable than a stock flat saddle for distance? I’ve often wondered if a cutout would improve the foam seat situation, or if it would just create more pointy pressure points. Seeing that saddle, I’m very tempted to start cutting out some foam…