Zipp 202 Tubeless Update

I’m now over a year into my Zipp 202 Tubeless experiment.  As per my initial update, they continue to work flawlessly.

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As pictured, I’m running a set of 40C Maxxis Ramblers.  The Ramblers set up tubeless with about 1 ‘red cup’ of Stan’s, and have been flawless since inception.  A little shake, rattle, roll and bounce, and they were good to go.  Given their volume, I never really run over 40-45 PSI in them…if I’m riding hard surfaces, I’ll typically run 40 up front and 45 in the rear (with my 155# weight).  On softer surfaces, I’ll drop pressure, and have run as low as 25 up front and 30 in the rear without any ill effect.

The Zipps continue to impress me with their durability, rigidity and great feel.  I still believe they offer greater vertical compliance than do ENVE XCs, although I would not trust these on the Mandem, with their low spoke count.

All in all, a great set of wheels on a beautiful bike.

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Spooky Dune Review Update

IMG_6197Man.  I just love this bike.

I came from a preexisting philosophical perspective that I needed a different bike for every job.  A road bike for road, a gravel bike for gravel, a touring bike for touring, a winter bike, etc., etc.  I had lived under that paradigm for years, and wanted to embrace simplicity.  I wanted to have fewer bikes.  I had found that I was building different bikes around the same geometry and components–I was starting to ride the same bars, the same saddle, the same saddle height, the same reach and drop–on different bikes.  It was getting to the point that the only differences were wheels and tires.

While I wanted that simplicity, I was also scared that one bike could not rule them all.  I was worried that I’d downsize the fleet and find myself missing a dedicated road bike.  I’d miss a dedicated gravel bike.  I’d miss something I once had–I’d wax nostalgic for the Vaya, for example.

It hasn’t happened.  Life has been about much change in the past 2 years.  Unbelievable, unforeseeable change.  Priorities have changed, available time has changed, riding patterns have changed.

What hasn’t changed is my love for this bike.  Since the day I built it, I’ve loved it.  I’ve never come away from a ride and wished for more, or for something different.  The ride quality is amazing–a perfect blend of compliant and responsive.  A fantastic frame enhanced with amazing components.  It’s beautiful to behold–I smile every time I see it.

Swapping wheels has proven to not be a chore.  It takes about 3 minutes and a Y wrench.  And the wheels I’m using on here (Zipp 202 tubeless for gravel, ENVE SES 3.4 for road) are as good as they get.

Every once in a while, I think I should have gone 1×11 rather than 2×11.  I think that, and then I go out and do a group ride and am thankful for small increments between gears.  I do a windy, hilly ride and am thankful that I can put an 11-32 on the rear, and run 36-32 to crawl up a headwind climb.

There’s not a component I’d change–across the whole bike.  I can’t envision a (foreseeable) adventure that I couldn’t ride this on.  I can throw a rack on the rear with ease…and if I had to put a rack on the front, a fork change could enable that without much difficulty.  I don’t really see that happening, but it’s possible.

What amazes me is that the bike is so versatile.  When last I rode it, the wind was kicking at 25mph.  The bike was as stable as possible on the road.  I ground out slow miles, suffering in the wind, and decided to drop off road and cut through a forest preserve.  The trails were frozen, with clod-bumps from a muddy day’s horse ride.  At regular intervals there were patches of ice and snow.  I dropped some pressure from the tires and pressed on, winding through single track, delicately picking the tires up over fallen logs, deftly gliding over patches of ice, feverishly churning through deep snow.  The Dune did it all, without complaint, and then hopped back on the road and took me home like a quintessential road bike.

If you can have one bike that is THIS GOOD at everything, it makes me wonder why you’d need more bikes.  Sure, if you’re doing races where the 3 watts of savings you’d have with an aero frame matter, then god bless you.  But I don’t want to go back to a garage full of bikes.

Some day, I’ll get a cargo bike again, if I live somewhere that supports its use.  Someday, I might get a singlespeed to not feel bad about abusing on salty, slushy, crappy days.  But the Dune is the bike that rules the roost.

I did a group ride in Downtown Chicago, where there were guys on $20,000 custom-ordered Italian carbon wünderbikes.  People on the ride walked right past those bikes to gawk and gape at the Spooky.  It’s just that great.

I’m happy to have joined the aluminati.  I’m in on a secret that few know–and the secret is just how good these bikes are.

Kask Rex Helmet Review

For the past few months, I’ve been wearing a Kask Rex Helmet for my mountain biking duties.  I’ve also pressed it into service for a new venture I’m trying with my daughter–horseback riding.

I picked the Rex because my old MTB helmet had seen better days and was due for replacement.  I wanted something with a sturdy, branch-deflecting visor, a good fit system, great ventilation, and perhaps most importantly…good coverage for the base/rear of skull.  I’m constantly surprised by the number of MTB helmets out there that fail to provide any protection to this relatively vulnerable part of the skull.

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IMG_3607The Rex provides great full-head coverage and excellent ventilation.  In terms of fit, it has Kask’s excellent systems that you’ll recognize from their road helmets.  The chin strap is a delightfully comfortable leather with infinite adjustment (via buckle).

The ‘fit around the head’ is done by virtue of the strap around the back of your noggin.  It has a nice, tactile dial that you can use to adjust to the proper tension–with a large enough dial that you can adjust it even when wearing winter gloves.  It has palpable detents as it turns, but they’re small enough that you can make finely-tuned, nuanced adjustments.  If you’re wearing a helmet all day, the ability to crank it up or down a notch can make a huge difference in terms of helmet fit.

The other critical part of the rear band is Kask’s system for adjusting the height of the car band.  It is adjustable with an indexed vertical adjustment–again, there are palpable detents that allow fine tuning.  What this means is that it can accommodate the shape of your head with great comfort.  For some, you need to be able to position the strap at the very rear of your head and have it held in place for maximum comfort.  With the shape of my head, I like to move the strap a little lower, just below the part where your skull starts curving inwards towards the neck, to help hold the helmet on your head in the event of a crash.  The Kask is perfect for that purpose.

It’s light, it’s well ventilated, and thus far (six or so months in) has proven very durable.  Fit is true to form for Kask–I’m decidedly a L/XL, but can just barely squeeze into a M if it’s all the way loose (and if I don’t wear a cap).  I have not yet tested the crashworthiness, but I’m comforted to see how well it covers the sides and rear of my head, as a good MTB helmet should.  Quality has been typical Kask, which is to say perfect.

At this point, highly recommended.