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This week is Tire Review Week. For our second review, we have the ITS System 29 Cross Country Tire:

ITS Intense Tire Systems system 29er

Intense Tire Systems gave me a set of their moderately new System 29 tires to test out. These are 29′er cross country tires that come in at 2.25″, and weigh about 700g a piece. (Site says 698g) Their bulbous size, and moderately low tread are interesting, but how did they hold up?

First of all, the weight was noticable coming from a pair of weight weenie 2.0″ race tires, but luckily the center tread is slightly curved to lower rolling resistance. This profile being about 3mm high off of the carcass makes it a bit difficult to handle in poorly groomed terrain or mud, but does great on grass, road, and hardpack dirt. They are most definitely a cross country riding tire. I would like to compare them to Continental’s X King 29er Tire, or Schwalbe‘s Racing Ralph TL-Ready 29r Tire, but with the lack of major knob height.

The tires did hold air well, and even worked well as a tubeless system, but were probably the most difficult tire I have ever had to mount. I broke four tire levers attempting to get them off my Bontrager 29′er rim, and once removed (due to a major tubeless burp), I was not willing to attempt to put them back on. Even my LBS took twenty or so minutes to install them the first time on my wheels. Very, very frustrating… If you believe your rims have a history of being difficult to mount tires on, avoid these.

I put about 350 miles on the tires before removing them, and the center tread had reduced down to about 1.7mm in height. What does this mean? They’re one, maybe two season tires. You’ll get a year out of them if you are lucky.

Fortunately, they retail for about $33, or around half of what you will pay for one of the big boys’ tires! Is the low cost worth the one year? Sure.

The bulbous size of the tire makes for a very comfortable ride, but also does not feel as responsive as smaller tires do. I’m not sure this is either a good or bad thing, but it is another thing to consider when looking for what you want to buy. They also slip around in snow, and want to ‘float’ on top of it, and avoid finding friction.

I will have to say that they are very resistant to cuts or flats. I had one freak accident pinch-burp that left me stranded, but nothing else in the entire year I used them.  I was impressed with this attribute, and associate it with the strong rubber density compound used on the side knobs and carcass.

All in all, it is an interesting and low-cost 29′er tire with a few neat gimmicks. ITS hopefully will put out a few more 29′er tires or maybe the same in different widths to please more customers!

Overall Rating: 2.5/4 Stars

Pros:

Low rolling resistance

Great on groomed trails

Flat resistant

Cons:

Possibly too wide for a XC tire?

Low Tread height

You can buy the ITS System 29 Cross Country Tire here:

Universal Cycle

BikeMania

Company Product Info:

http://www.intensetires.com/itxc-29-225.html

System 29

System 29’s huge air volume makes it an excellent trail tyre, capable of tackling gnarly terrain with total confidence. The tread pattern provides low rolling resistance and plenty of hook up.

SIZE 2.25

PART#: ITXC-29-225

WEIGHT: 698 Grams

Folding Bead: By using a lightweight & Felxible bead we are able to reduce the weight of the tyres. They are also Easer to Handle and Store.

C3 Compund: Intense”s proprietary Cross Country Compound, provides excellent traction and durability.

SinglePly: 1 Ply Casing refers to layers of reinforcing fabric in a tyre. 1 ply tyres are constructed with a single fabric layer for fast rolling and lightweight tyres.

LSG: Low Specific Gravity rubber compound is used to reduce the weight of the tyre casing.

 

Part 1 – Torelli Arezzo Open Tubular Tire

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This week is Tire Review Week. For our first review, we have the Torelli Arezzo Open Tubular Tire:

torelli arezzo open tubular handmade tire 700c 700 x 23 torelli tubular paris roubaix challenge grifo michelin review

Torelli sent me a set of their Arezzo “Open Tubulars” last summer to test them and give them a review. By open tubular, this means that the carcass is very similar to a handmade tubular, but has a bead on both sides/does not have the tube stitched inside. The tread is glued to the carcass when fully inflated, so it holds a very round shape when pumped up.

torelli arezzo open tubular handmade tire 700c 700 x 23 torelli tubular paris roubaix challenge grifo michelin review

The weight of these tires are very light for being handmade, and the casing cloth is supremely supple due to it’s 260tpi thread count. (207g, 205g) I ended up wanting to inflate these tires 10psi higher than my suggested weight/terrain would expect, just due to the fact that they ran so smooth. The tread and casing of the tire ate up tiny bumps in a way that a 25mm tire would, but with it’s 205g/23c size profile. The sidewalls are bare polyester with just a smidge of rubber covering them, and were no more susceptible to punctures as any other race tire, e.x. Michelin Pro 3 Race’s. The cloth right under the tread has a single layer of aramid protection above the cotton casing. This does not change the way the suppleness of the tire conforms to the road, and protects just as well as any other race tire.

torelli arezzo open tubular handmade tire 700c 700 x 23 torelli tubular paris roubaix challenge grifo michelin review

About 1100 miles into my review, I had a blowout on the rear tire, where a perfectly placed nail caught the sidewall and blew out the wheel instantly. The beads kept the tire on very well, and I was able to slow down to a stop with little or no trouble. I do not have anything bad to say about this, since it would have ruined any other tire in the same situation. I’m just glad it stayed on my rim, and did not fly off or get caught up in my drivetrain or frame!

torelli arezzo open tubular handmade tire 700c 700 x 23 torelli tubular paris roubaix challenge grifo michelin review

After this incident, I switched the front tire to the rear, and put on one of my previous tires for the front. This tire failthfully lasted through another 700 miles of the rougher terrain that WV had to offer, including rides that should have been for the cross bike… I finally stopped using this tire when the tread was worn down to the carcass in a single spot I skid-stopped on unintentionally several hundred miles earlier.

The tires roll fast, are as grippy, if not grippier than some of the big named tire companies, and just feels so plush. Seriously, watch out… you’re going to want to over inflate these…

torelli arezzo open tubular handmade tire 700c 700 x 23 torelli tubular paris roubaix challenge grifo michelin review

All in all, for the price of these tires, there is no doubt that I enjoyed them. Flats were rare, grip and rolling resistance was equivalent to any other premium tires I have used, and they really did smooth out the little bumps like a tubular or larger tire does.

Would I suggest these as everyday tires? Yes, but only if you are knowingly willing to accept that they will not last as long as say, a Conti Gatorskin or Michelin Krylion would. 1800mi on a handmade tire is pretty darn good, and especially at the quality and price that Torelli serves them at.

Overall Review 4/4 Stars

You can buy these at the following locations:

Smart Cycles

AirBomb

Company Product Info:

http://torelli.com/tubes-tires-maintenance/tires/arezzo-open-tubular.html

Torelli “Open Tubulars” are vastly superior to regular clincher tires in feel and performance. An open tubular uses the same technology and materials as a high-end sew-up with the convenience of mounting on a clincher rim. The casings threads are not woven and because of this, they have very high thread counts and are very supple and strong. This makes for a fast, good-handling tire. The tread compounds are designed to stick to the road for excellent cornering.

* Weight: 205 grams
* Lighter, more flexible casing
* Casing thread count: 260 threads per inch
* Color: black or classic honey side wall
* Casing material: polyester
* Size: 700 x 23
* Bead: folding aramid
* Pressure rating: 100 – 130 psi

P.S. they do look very similar to Challenge’s handmade open tubulars~

PART 2 -ITS System 29 XC Tire

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Admit it, we have all dropped our chain or overshifted to where we had to get off the bike and put it back on properly. Heck, remember Chaingate 2010 @ the Tour de France? It even happens to the pros.

andy schleck chaingate 2010 tour de france

What I haven’t noticed is that I am becoming more adept at riding and shifting the chain back into place without even thinking. If the chain drops by the bottom bracket, I just shift into my 50t, and pedal slowly until it catches. Recently, since I had to fine tune my bike for trainer-specific riding/shifting, I have had several instances of overshifting the chain out toward the pedal. Very embarassing…

One of the other members of spin class was surprised at how easy it was for me to get it back on the chainrings without hopping off the bike.

There are a ton of places and articles that explain what you need to do when these incidents happen, and Coach Levi says it best:

If your chain drops onto the bottom bracket shell:

If you are pedaling along, shift down to the small chainring, and immediately lose all resistance at the pedals, there’s a good chance that the chain dropped off onto the bottom bracket shell.

If this happens, the first thing you should do is relax! You don’t need to panic or screech to a halt, just roll along.

Begin pedaling easily, and gently shift the front derailleur up like you’re going back to the big ring. Typically this is enough to get the chain back onto the small ring and spinning smoothly. (You don’t want to actually shift the whole way back up to the big ring.)

However, if the chain bunches up, you have a bigger problem…

If your chain digs onto the bottom bracket shell (chainsuck):

If your attempts to shift the chain back onto the chainring fail, it’s probably because the chain got jammed into the bottom bracket shell. When this happens, the chain bunches up and completely jams. This is known as chainsuck.

When this happens, you should stop pedaling! You’ll need to slow to a stop, get off the bike, and lift the chain off the bottom bracket shell and onto the chainring. Sometimes you may need to physically pull the chain out, if it is jammed in there tightly.

If you don’t want to get your hands greasy, take a tire lever and use that to pry the chain free and drop it onto the chainring.

If your chain drops off the big ring onto your foot:

Finally, what do you do if the chain flys off the big ring and ends up hanging outside the crank arm? Or perhaps it ends up on your foot?!

In this case, you gently roll along and use a similar shifting technique, except that now you are shifting down toward the small ring. So you will pedal gently and shift down, hoping the chain comes back up and over to the big ring.

This actually happened to me in the inaugural Tour de Susquehanna. I shifted the chain right off onto my foot! I had to slow down quite a bit, but by some stroke of luck, I was able to unclip my foot and lift the chain slightly (with my foot,) then it shifted back into place!

It won’t always work that well, but it’s worth a shot.

It’s the little things like this that are sometimes difficult to teach another person, because you just learn to adapt and overcome while out on the road.

Are there any other instances or types of errors that you fix without even thinking about anymore? If so, let me know in the comments!

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Well, first snow has fallen, so it is another round of trying the snow chains. This year, I have scrapped the external tensioning wire on both sides, saving about 120g,  and the install takes less than 20 minutes for both wheels:

DIY | Tagged 700c, better traction, bicycle, bicycle on ice, bicycle snow, bicycle snow chain, bicycle snow chain diy, bicycle snow chains, bicycle tire chains, bike chains snow riding, bike snow chain, bike snow chains, brake, carbide, chain, continental, disc, DIY, how to make bike tire chains, howto, ice, icebike, innova, Mountain, mountain bike snow chains, mtn, nokian, people slipping on ice, peter white, peterwhitecycles, Pneus à crampons, road bike snow chains, schwalbe, slipping on ice, snow, snow bicycle, snow chain bicycle, snow chain bike, snow chains bicycle, snowchains bicycle, stud, studded, teeth, tire, Video, weather, zip ties, Ziptie

Before

DIY | Tagged 700c, better traction, bicycle, bicycle on ice, bicycle snow, bicycle snow chain, bicycle snow chain diy, bicycle snow chains, bicycle tire chains, bike chains snow riding, bike snow chain, bike snow chains, brake, carbide, chain, continental, disc, DIY, how to make bike tire chains, howto, ice, icebike, innova, Mountain, mountain bike snow chains, mtn, nokian, people slipping on ice, peter white, peterwhitecycles, Pneus à crampons, road bike snow chains, schwalbe, slipping on ice, snow, snow bicycle, snow chain bicycle, snow chain bike, snow chains bicycle, snowchains bicycle, stud, studded, teeth, tire, Video, weather, zip ties, Ziptie

After

The only change I noticed in having the chains being held in place by zip ties alone was that the tension needed to hold them in place created unneeded stress on the sidewalls of the tires. One of the chains where the entire link was not fully aligned ended up rubbing a hole into my rear tire, ending the ride prematurely.

I stopped here for a photo op, and to let the tubeless goo seal the hole:

DIY | Tagged 700c, better traction, bicycle, bicycle on ice, bicycle snow, bicycle snow chain, bicycle snow chain diy, bicycle snow chains, bicycle tire chains, bike chains snow riding, bike snow chain, bike snow chains, brake, carbide, chain, continental, disc, DIY, how to make bike tire chains, howto, ice, icebike, innova, Mountain, mountain bike snow chains, mtn, nokian, people slipping on ice, peter white, peterwhitecycles, Pneus à crampons, road bike snow chains, schwalbe, slipping on ice, snow, snow bicycle, snow chain bicycle, snow chain bike, snow chains bicycle, snowchains bicycle, stud, studded, teeth, tire, Video, weather, zip ties, Ziptie

Click for larger image

One last photo really shows how cold it was outside; all of the grit and water that flew up onto my frame froze. This created an impenetrable fortress of frozen gunk on the bottom side of the downtube:

DIY | Tagged 700c, better traction, bicycle, bicycle on ice, bicycle snow, bicycle snow chain, bicycle snow chain diy, bicycle snow chains, bicycle tire chains, bike chains snow riding, bike snow chain, bike snow chains, brake, carbide, chain, continental, disc, DIY, how to make bike tire chains, howto, ice, icebike, innova, Mountain, mountain bike snow chains, mtn, nokian, people slipping on ice, peter white, peterwhitecycles, Pneus à crampons, road bike snow chains, schwalbe, slipping on ice, snow, snow bicycle, snow chain bicycle, snow chain bike, snow chains bicycle, snowchains bicycle, stud, studded, teeth, tire, Video, weather, zip ties, Ziptie

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Schwinn stingray, wacky bike, chopper, modded, modifications, redneck, hillbilly bicycle

Was crusing down the road to go pick up some perscriptions when I saw this thing in someone’s yard. I couldn’t help but stare at the contraption. We all know that Schwinn‘s parent company Pacific Cycles created a hoop-dee version of the classic Schwinn Stingray into a hacked up O.C.C. style to appeal to modern kids. What was created in 2004 was this:

schwinn stingray 2004 new classic old

The bicycle weighed a ton, the replacement tires were hard to find, and was cumbersome for anything but riding around the cul-de-sac. I’m pretty sure manufacturing was canceled after a few years.

Luckily we have neighbors who are willing to customize and modify their little cruiser bikes in an attempt to make them cool…

Take a look:

schwinn stingray 2004

Click for larger image

 

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