Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Pugsley to 9zero7 upgrade finished with a Vee Rubber Bulldozer

I have enjoyed working on the Pugsley to 9zero7 upgrade. But I have the lingering thought that I still need greater floatation. The trouble is that to gain clearance for wider tires you need a bigger frame and when I started this project I was not thinking way up to 4.7/5.0" tires I was still trying to improve the original 3.6", which I did. But the snow is always whiter on the other side of the trail right?

The problem is that it is a big jump to gain the clearance for real 4.7" tires. If you go to a wider spaced frame you need to get all new wheels with wider axles. It really becomes not cost effective to try and upgrade a frame with 135mm rear spacing to one of the newer frames with 170mm spacing or 195mm spacing because you just have to change too many parts.

But I do have the advantage of not using a derailleur for my drive train. Using a planetary hub means the chain does not move in closer to the center of the hub and back out during gear changes. This gives more clearance than a deraileur equipped bike because the chain is always as far outboard as possible.

When I tried the Vee Rubber Snowshoe XL it gave me the increased width I wanted, over the standard Snowshoe, and extra floatation but the side knobs where just to far out and could touch the frame depending on how I inflated the tires. So they were just a hair too wide for my 135mm frame.

Then Vee Rubber came out with the Bulldozer. Also claiming a width of 4.7" but with side knobs that were not quite as aggressive. I decided it was worth a try and see if I could get a bit more floatation. The volume of a sphere goes up as the cube of the radius so every extra bit of width really does make a big difference in the volume of air in the tire.

Here I put all three tires together in the same image.
Left to right the Vee Rubber Snowshoe XL, standard Snowshoe, and Bulldozer.

It is pretty easy to see the difference in clearance between the three tires.

Unlike the XL the Bulldozer does not hit the frame under any inflation and it is a good .25 inches bigger than the Snowshoe that I was running. Hence the Vee Rubber Bulldozer is a winner for me in the frame clearance game. It will allow me to get more life out of my 135mm frame.

Part two of this article: Pugsley-to-9zero7-upgrade-part-2
Part one of this article:Budget-pugsley-fat-bike-upgrade-to-9zero7

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Great Bike Shops

When I think of the great bike shops I've visited, I don't think of modern concept shops filled with glass and chrome. Vast spaces with perfect lighting and a small heard of 20-somethings who are neat and polite. By definition, they have not been sizing people on bikes for 20 years. They just don't have the experience yet. No, I'll take the small crowded bike shop with pros who've made a career in the bike business. The guys and gals who know Campagnolo as well as Shimano and Sram.

When I think of some of the great bike shops, I think of cities like Milano, New York, Paris and Fountain City. Fountain City? Yes, Fountain City, Wisconsin. There, in a town of 1000 people along the Mississippi River, you will find Brone's Bike Shop and World Cup Coffee.

When you step through the door you will be surprised to see a large offering of multiple high-end brands. Pinarello, Scott, BMC, Basso to name a few. And not just one frame on the wall but a good selection so you just might find a good fit.

Like a few other shops I can think of, Gary and Mark created Brone's. What I mean by that is they developed not only the shop but the clientele around it. But they are not elitist either. They are just as happy to sell a kid's bike to the next generation racer.

There is no way such a shop should exist in such a small out-of-the-way town. But over the years they have made such a commitment and made enough customers happy to keep them coming back. A shop like this gets known by word of mouth. This is a shop people drive to and where they hang out in the coffee shop and talk about the latest gear and join the Thursday night rides.

 Shelli, Mark's wife, runs World Cup Coffee. She makes a great cup of coffee, too!

So, when you come to Buffalo County, Wisconsin to ride the incredible small, quiet country roads... I did tell you about that didn't I? Could have sworn I did... Next blog entry. Best riding this side of Europe? Epic climbs, ridge riding and great views.

Well, be sure to drop by and check out what Gary and Mark have built. Maybe the next time you have that build list for your dream bike you might give them a call and see what they can do for you.

Brone's Bike Shop
615 S Main St, Fountain City, WI · (608) 687-8601

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Cycling in the Dolomites - Sellaronda Bike Day

The mountains of northern Italy are a spectacular range of high peaks. The Marmolada is over 10,000 feet and can be seen from Venice on a clear day. I thought Alaskans had the corner on spectacular mountains until I visited the Dolomites. The closest one can get to Denali, on a road, is 90 miles. Now, don't get me wrong, Denali is spectacular at 90 miles away but the Dolomites have roads that climb right up into them. They surround you as you ride. You will never forget cycling in the Dolomites.

The Sella Group is a group of mountains that form a massif in roughly a square shape in the heart of the Dolomites. The four corners are some of the most famous passes of the Giro d'Italia.

Twice a year all the roads are closed and turned over to cyclists. It is not a race. There is no registration or fees. You can start when you like. But a sag wagon is provided if you can't quite complete the loop. This year, the June event attracted 22,000 cyclists. This is a tough event to ride, the entire loop covering a mere 35 miles but climbing four major passes.

We were lucky to participate in the September event where 5,500 riders came to climb the Dolomites. It is one thing to watch the Giro d'Italia on TV but it is another to see really strong riders passing you like they were on a stroll while you are having a hard time breathing. But, of course, there was every level of rider making the attempt. Well, maybe not every level because each climb is a significant effort for anyone.

This video, produced for the MTB version of this event, shows the loop from a bird's eye view.

Definitely a ride to put on any cyclist's bucket list.