Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Review: Clement LCV Road Tyres

Clement Pneumatics are known for their top-end cyclocross tyres, which have shod the wheels of many past and current champions. In recent years, they have also started adding some new diversity to their range though; with the introduction of the X'plor tyres (something I'm keen to try on my Kona Private Jake), as well as the Strada LGG road tyre, and now the new LCV road race tyre.

The LCV is named after Lucca, a picturesque town in Tuscany, which has hosted some of the most prestigious races in the road cycling calendar. The name is intended to suggest what the LCV is built for... road racing.

The LCV tyres use a mixture of threads-per-inch, as well as a puncture protection belt and herringbone file pattern tread; the result is a supple casing, but also a tyre that should handle all road surfaces, in all conditions. With Clement's great reputation on the cyclocross circuit, I was keen to see how the new LCV stood up to the UK roads...

The results have been good. I fitted the LCVs to a set of COSINE carbon clinchers, and used a set of latex tubes to decrease weight and increase performance. Out on the road, the tyres feel FAST! Much like other out-and-out race tyres, such as the Vittoria Open Corsa, the LCV feels supple, grippy and reassuringly planted, on a wide variety of road surfaces.

Perhaps the more impressive thing though, is that the LCV tyres have proven very durable and robust, too. I have ridden them down some pretty wet and rutted country lanes, and they've come out unscathed; the tread also seems to be lasting well, after a good few hundred miles of testing.

These seem like a great UK racing tyre option then; with great grip and low rolling resistance, but also impressive durability and reliability.

View the range of Clement Tyres at Wiggle (Link)

Sunday, 26 June 2016

​10 Top Tips for Tubeless Tyres

Tubeless tyres offer a huge number of advantages over their tubed counterparts; including greater grip, puncture resistance, and a lower rolling resistance. To find out more about the benefits of tubeless, have a read of my post 'Going Tubeless on Road Tyres'.

However, tubeless tyres can be a right pain; most notably to fit, but also when they don't seal out on the road or trails. After fitting more tubeless tyres than I care to count, and having plenty of dramas of my own, I thought I would share some Top Tips for Tubeless: for mounting, repairing and maintaining the tubeless system.

1. Mounting - Use two wraps of tubeless rim tape

Most tubeless conversion kits recommend one compete wrap of the sealing tape (such as Stan's Yellow Tape); I'd recommend doing two wraps. You'll use twice as much tape, and add a tiny amount of weight; but the added friction on the tyre bead, and the better coverage of the rim bed, makes it far easier to inflate the tyre. It also makes it less likely that the rim tape will lift up over time, which causes sealant and air to leak into the spoke holes.

2. Mounting - Use something to lubricate the tyre bead 

Because tubeless tyres are designed to be tight fitting, it can be tricky to get them to evenly seat around the rim. Using something like a little washing-up liquid on a sponge, and wiping it around the tyre bead before mounting, will allow the bead to slip into place more easily.

3. Mounting - Inflate first with an inner tube, to get one of the tyre beads engaged with the rim 

If you're struggling to get the tyre bead to 'pop' onto the rim, try inflating the tyre first with an inner tube; so that it pops into place (you can pump it up hard). You can then deflate the tyre, and remove the inner tube; but leave one of the tyre beads engaged with the rim - meaning you've only got one side to 'pop' into place when you inflate it tubeless.

4. Mounting - Hang it up when you're inflating, to aid bead seating

If you rest the wheel on the floor when you're trying to inflate it, the the bottom of the tyre bead is pushed into the rim cavity (reducing the seal), and the top of the tyre bead is pushed away from the wheel (also reducing the seal). To avoid this, hang the tyre up with a strap when you're inflating it.

It's also worth positioning the valve at either 5 or 7 o'clock; which has the effect of pushing the tyre closer to the rim near the valve, but means also you're not pumping air directly into the pool of sealant at the bottom of the tyre (that makes a mess!). This technique aids easier inflation, and also means the bead is more likely to seat evenly on the rim.

5. Mounting - Shake it like a Polaroid picture

After successfully seating your tyre, make sure the sealant covers all areas within the tyre cavity, by giving it a proper good shake! Spin it, shake it, bounce it - splash that sealant about!

6. Repair - Use a 'worm' when the tyre gets cut

Tubeless sealant should seal around pointy objects that piece your tyre, but it can struggle with cuts and gashes. Use a "worm" and needle to plug bigger holes, then let the sealant do its magic around it.
'The Worm' - a simply sticky strip, which you plug a hole with using the needle, to make it small enough for the tubeless sealant to work its magic

7. Repair - Big cuts and gashes need a tube to get you home, don't forget one (or two!)

Sometimes tubeless just can't handle the damage to a tyre, or the sealant runs out. In this case, make sure you have a spare tube to put in the tyre (remember to remove any offending objects in the tyre first!). In fact, I often carry two tubes, and a spare set of instant patches; because if you puncture far from home, particularly on an off-road ride, then it's quite possible that the tube you put in the damaged tyre will get punctured itself!

8. Maintenance - Check your sealant levels regularly

Latex sealant dries up over time. This is especially true in tyres which have suffered (and sealed) punctures in the past; or those that aren't tubeless specific, so may have porous sidewalls. Check your tubeless tyre sealant regularly, to make sure it is topped-up and ready to seal!

9. Maintenance - Keep your air fresh, if you use CO2

Carbon Dioxide has the effect of shortening the curing time of latex sealant, significantly; which means that if you use a CO2 canister, you'll end up with dried-up sealant in your tyre before very long at all. To overcome this, if you do use CO2, let the majority of it out at the end of the ride; then re-inflate the tyre with a floor pump, so the air is "fresh".

10. Persevere, it's worth it

Finally, I'd like to re-iterate that tubeless is worth it. I have converted to tubeless tyres on all of my bikes now: MTB, road and CX. It significantly reduces punctures, and improves handling and performance, in my opinion.

It is worth persevering, even though it can be tricky at times. I hope these tips make it a bit easier!
Tubeless can offer the opportunity to ride anywhere and everywhere, it's worth persevering

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Review: Waterfield Designs Club Cycling Pouch

My review of the Eleven Vélo Ride Pouch was the start of a great relationship; the smart leather ride wallet is now securely part of my 'Every Ride Carry', and it comes in my jersey pocket on almost every outing. It is a great way to keep all your small ride essentials and valuables together; safe and protected.

The Ride Pouch was a joint project; between Australian cycle clothing brand Eleven Vélo, and San Francisco based bag makers, WaterField Designs. It seems I wasn't the only rider to become a fan of the product either, as WaterField Designs have produced a huge number to date; all made by hand in their San Fran workshop.

With so many riders using their product, WaterField Designs started getting some great feedback from out on the road; then, as great brands do, they took on-board those constructive criticisms, and have developed their new Club Cycling Pouch.

The Club Cycling Pouch isn't a replacement for the original Ride Pouch; rather it is designed to fulfil a more simple need, and reach a new area of the market. It is a stripped back product, which comes in at a lower price point as a result.

The Ride Pouch has a clear plastic window; so that you can use your phone, while it is safely housed within. It also features internal pockets, to help organise your smaller accessories. The Club Cycling Pouch does away with these two attributes; instead you get one quality YKK zipper, which opens up to a spacious pouch, which has just a padded sleeve for your mobile, but no further pocketing. In trying to make the Club Pouch a more affordable option, these seem like two obvious areas to save on; as although the clear plastic window and internal pockets were useful on the Ride Pouch, they certainly weren't essential; especially as I almost always used to take my phone out of the case to use it, anyway.

The other significant difference between the two pouches, is that the Club Cycling Pouch is made of Ballistic Nylon, rather than leather. This is a significant cost saving; but to be honest, it is also probably also a more suitable material, especially if you are riding in frequently damp conditions; as the leather on the Ride Pouch could get a bit saturated (and a bit smelly).

The overall result of the redesign, and the creation of the new Club Cycling Pouch, is therefore something that is simplified; yet, still a product that functions perfectly for its intended use. The Waterfield Designs Cycling Club Pouch provides a robust and smart grab-bag for your ride essentials; accommodating everything from tubes, levers and CO2; through to your phone, cash and cards. It is made to last a lifetime; and it should reduce faff and frustration throughout that life.

A great place to house your kit; safe in the knowledge that is is protected, and it's not going to fly out of your pocket on the next descent. A worthwhile and affordable addition to your 'Every Ride Carry'.

View the range of bags and pouches from WaterField Designs at sfbags.com (Link)

A soft padded pocket inside the Waterfield Designs Club Cycling Pouch, helps protect your phone

Quality materials, and a robust zip. A great design for this cycling accessories pouch from Waterfield Designs