Friday, September 21, 2012

The Latest From Interbike

I was at Interbike in Las Vegas this week and got caught up on all the latest road tubeless developments. I will have lots more to write, but here is a quick summary:

Hutchinson - Had a nice long talk with the Hutchinson people to figure out where there tire line is at for this year. Basically, they went from three tires to five +. Last year they had the Intensive, Fusion 3, and Atom. This year they added an Intensive 28c and the new Atom Galactic. 

The Intensive 28c may or may not be called "Top Speed" or perhaps some other name. Basically it is the mass market version of a tire they developed for professional riders racing Paris-Roubaix. I have seen it, and it is definitely 28c. One of the criticisms that the Intensive received was that it was marked as a 25c tire but was really closer to 23c, not sufficiently wide enough for a commuter. Rest assured the new 28c version finally plugs the gap between racing tires and cyclocross.

The Atom Galactic also addresses a valid concern. Many felt that the standard Atom cost more than the fantastic Fusion 3, but was barely any lighter (260g vs 290g). The Atom Galactik at 240 solves this problem and is an actual candidate for pro-tour use. I actually rode a pair of Atom Galactiks yesterday on a 3 hour training ride, and came away very impressed. I will have a full review shortly.

Finally, the Fusion 3 is now also available in a white striped color. No actual change to the compound, just a different look.

Schwalbe - As I have noted, their Ultremo ZX is poised to enter the market. What was cool to see was how heavily they were promoting it at their booths with a billboard sized picture saying "Go Tubeless". Wonder where they got that slogan from?

Maxxis - They were showing their Padrone race tire and a prototype of a radial tire that will be for training.

IRC- IRC has four great road tubeless tires, but they are hard still to find in the United States.

Others - Others I heard that were looking to road tubeless tires include Kenda, WTB, Bontrager, and Specialized, although none had products on display this year.

Wheels - American Classic is getting into tubeless in a big way. They already have their road tubeless wheelset is coming in at under 1200 grams, and they just showed another, slightly heavier version. This is in addition to their conversion strips and valves. Stan's reinforced its Alpha 340 and came out with a stronger Alpha 400. They now sell both in several models of tubeless road and cyclocross wheelsets for both disc and rim brakes. I also came away impressed with the Velocity A23 rim that can be built up in a variety of colors. Throw in great models from Shimano, Campy/Fulcrum, DT Swiss, and others, and it is clear that the major wheel builders are all-in on road tubeless.

Other - A company called Orange Seal is selling a tubeless conversion kit and an innovative sealant that coats the tire.I also liked the American Classic valves, and Hutchinson sealant which I just installed and am testing. Look for a full review of the Galactik, Hutchinson sealant, and American Classic valves really soon.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Will 2013 Be The Year Of Road Tubeless?

I have been writing here for two years, and during this time we have seen some slow and steady growth in road tubeless tire acceptance.  But in the last few weeks between Eurobike and the run up to Interbike next week in Las Vegas, I have seen a dramatic uptic in the number of companies releasing tubeless specific wheelsets and those announcing tubeless road tires.

For example, Bike Rumor announced today that Reynolds is releasing multiple wheelsets with rims licensed by Stans.  Add to that the recent announcements by companies like HED, American Classic, and others, and the only conclusion reachable is that manufacturers are seeing a critical mass (finally) forming around this technology. In essence, we are seeing the same type of industry consensus around disc brakes for road bikes.

At the same time, highly respected cycling experts like Lennard Zinn are recognizing how great this technology really is. According to his column in VeloNews, he has "only had two flats with tubeless road tires in many years and tens of thousands of miles of riding them." Its hard to argue with that kind of testimonial from a journalist, mechanic, and industry icon of his stature.

Next Wednesday, I am going to visit Interbike myself and take a close look at the state of road tubeless technology. I also have a forthcoming feature article about road tubeless technology that is scheduled to appear in a nationally circulated magazine. So please keep coming back and allow me to show you where all of this is heading.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Disc Tubeless Wheels

Alpha 340 Disc Wheelset 32 hole

A Go Tubeless Reader recently wrote me with this question:

So, I am a convert, but seriously high maintenance. Here's my dilemma:

I ride the Auger CX disc for work, off-road and three fast group rides a week. For work I have a set of x9 hubs laced to Velocity a23 rims (nmsw) with DT Competition spokes. these wheels are perfectly suited to be ridden hard and stand up to abuse, but I was curious about getting something more road-race specific. For 'cross I have a set of Industry Nine 29 wheels with Stan's Arch EX rims.What I need is a set of (in order of importance):

Tubeless specific
Non-machined sidewall (high maintenance)
Road wheels.

I love the 23mm width of the a23, but they just don't feel stiff. I understand that, with the right tires (Hutchinson Fusion3 Tubeless) I can convert a standard clincher rim, but I'd rather start with a road tubeless rim.

Carbon clincher with carbon brake track would be okay, not a metal brake track, that would be ugly.
Oh, and black, black, black.
Any ideas?


My Response

Thanks for the question Pat. I am a big fan of road disc brakes and think that they are a perfect compliment to tubeless tires.  Heck, I am sure your car has both, so why not your much more technically advance bike?

The good news is that this is turning out to be an exciting year for Road Tubeless wheel offerings, especially those with disc brake compatibility. For example, check out these Specialized Roval tubeless disc offerings.  I also think that the Volagi Ignite SL carbon wheelset could work for you depending on your dropout spacing. Finally, Stan's new A340 Cross wheelset seems to fit your bill as well and it is even black. And don't forget this HED offering.

On the other hand, I don't understand why you are so insistent on tubeless specific rims. Even Stan's tubeless rims still use rim tape, the same as I have been using since road tubeless came out.

I hope that helps.