Fat Bike FUN!

I knew the Charge Cooker Maxi was going to be fun in the winter, and it was. What I didn’t anticipate was how MUCH fun it would be in the spring and summer!

???????????????????????????????I woke up today to soggy trails and a steamy feel to the air after a night of rain. A typical Vermont early summer day. This means slick rocks, slimy roots and mud. Not great when you are climbing 1700 feet in 7 miles. The loose rocky climbs are tough in dry conditions. Wet trails make picking the lines critical, one slick rock can throw you off the “best” line and then you’re walking to the next “flat” spot to remount. Not only a waste of time but also a waste of HR…. to be avoided at all costs. Well, that all changes with the fat bike! If you can pedal it, it will over anything.   The fat tires hug the rocks and roots and the low tire pressure gives you amazing traction. Sure it weighs a little more, but with the 36 22 front chain rings and 11X36 cassette you easily have enough gearing to get up just about anything. It’s a little slower but you’re not walking!! The traction on slick mud is unbelievable. I can easily make climbs on it that would be nearly impossible on “skinny 2.2” 29er tires.   Surprisingly, it is also really easy to pick up the front wheel to go over logs and up rocks. It actually seems easier than on my other bikes. It’s a great confidence builder.

The descents are still hard for me. Today, I hit a muddy spot fishtailed, grabbed the brakes skidded into a downed tree and went over the handlebars. A rider error, NOT the bike.   But, the bike is so sturdy I don’t worry about crashing on it. I’ve also noticed that when you catch a stick in the derailleur (another common occurrence on the barely maintained VT trails I ride) it seems to be less likely to break that my Epic. It does take little time to get used to the descents. The tires bounce a little and sometimes pull you left or right. It is forgiving and if you just let the bike go. The rocks and roots make the descent a little jarring, but its great practice for relaxing on the descents and easing off the brakes and letting the bike do the work. Something I need always need to work on.

I ride the Charge almost everyday.   It has become my newest training tool. I definitely feel stronger climbing on my lighter bikes. Not only it is fun to train on, it’s making me a better rider!   Thanks Chris and Bikeway Source for another fun toy in the shed!!

Clement PDX Clincher CX Tire Review

clement pdx pj review
6yr. old Mikey J puts his seal of approval on the PDX clinchers

Why did you get them?

My Cannondale Super X came with Schwalbe Racing Ralph clinchers, and they just seemed pretty mediocre. Fine for tooling along on dirt road training rides, but even though I am new to CX racing, they just seemed to lack sidewall integrity and I had several flats with them. I spoke to Bikeway Source – Bell Lap Racing teammates and hands down the recommendation from MKR and other experienced racers was “get the Clement Crusade PDX clincher – you won’t be sorry”.

Big thanks to our sponsor bike shop, Bikeway Source, for also recommending these and for hooking me up with a pair of these sweet tires.

How do they perform?

Pretty darn good! I have now used the Clement Crusade PDX in 33 x 700c in over 6 CX races in dry and muddy conditions and they are tremendous. They get labelled as a mud tire, hence the reverence to Portland’s rainy PDX coded airport, but they really do excel in all conditions. Even in bone dry and cold races, like this year’s Ice Weasels CX, they just performed flawlessly in the icy and bullet proof pack conditions. I saw several epic wipe-outs from folks who were on less capable tires, while my PDX’s just kept rolling.

When looking at them, you can see the Y center knobs have bite but are aligned to provide fast roll on hard pack and pavement. The sweeteners for me are the side knobs that hold up in dry and wet grassy and muddy curves, and the leading edge provides great out of corner traction.

I did swap them out post-race season for Vittoria Cross XN Pro’s, as I wanted a pure file tread for minimal rolling resistance with winter road riding and training. One of my teammates, Mike “Hummingbird” Harris road PDX’s on a recent winter road ride to Mt Wachusett with good success. The extra traction seemed to help in all the sand filled roads, and didn’t add too much extra rolling resistance. Being a hummingbird, Mike just rockets up most hills regardless.

Any problems or items you would change?

No, they are a reasonable 350 gram weight and the price is also in line with other clincher tires. Sure, everyone would like to have a pure file tread that can also play in the mud, but the physics don’t compute on that ask, and CX racing appears to be a game of picking the right tire for the race conditions that day. For most of my race season, the Clement PDX clincher was my “go to” tire and even managed get me across the finish line ahead of a few folks in my CAT. Results speak volumes.

Recommend to fellow Bikeway Source – Bell Lap Racing team member? Or not?

Yes, as mentioned, several of my teammates have Cannondale Super X bikes, and I would suggest they save the Racing Ralph’s for off season dirt road riding and mount the Clement PDX for any racing or serious CX training. Look around at the races, and the PDX is becoming the Clincher tire to beat.