7/28/15

Light Bicycle carbon rims and Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.35's!!

First things first, yes it has been difficult to move forward since July 2nd with the loss of a loved one. I haven't posted on the blog for that reason, but I'm starting to peak out from behind the dark shadows now...

New Hand Built MTB Wheels

The new wheels that I had built by Mike Curiak at LaceMine29.com arrived this month. My choice of new tires to mount on these wide rims from Light Bicycle (35mm external/30mm internal width) arrived yesterday in the form of Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.35's tubeless easy tires. Both tires weigh in exactly at 660g's on my digital scale.

I had ordered the new rims during the Spring while I was in Germany as replacement rims for my original AM rims from Light Bicyle that had served me well. My original Light Bicycle rims had a broken spoke/nipple that I had taken to the bike shop where they had been built a few years ago to see if the rear could be fixed. The rear wheel was diagnosed by two people at the shop as having a pull through the rim and I was told the rim was shot. So I went with that and believed the diagnosis. Thus my order for the replacement rims. I figured why not go wider and try out a pair with the new non-bead groove technology while I was at it? Hookless rim wall I believe is the proper terminology for the newer style of bike rims being built in carbon.

When I got back from Germany, I looked really closely at the broken spoke/nipple and the drilled rim hole on the old Light Bicycle wheels. Before I started to take the wheels apart to reuse the hubs, I wanted to be sure the rear wheel was toast. So I took them up for a second opinion to fellow BikeIowa.com team member Steve Fry at Bike World in West Des Moines. Steve said the hole was fine, popped on a new spoke and nipple and presto - the wheels are fine. OK, sometimes second opinions are worth getting. Not the result I was expecting and here I was with two new beautiful rims. What to do? Build them up which would require an additional set of hubs, or try and sell the rims? I decided to go with the former knowing the age of all my other wheels and anticipate a replacement set if and when another set gives up the ghost. So, I now have plenty of wheels, 3 sets with carbon rims. One set on the RIP 9, one set on the JET 9, and now this new set which will spend time on those two bikes as well as my Dos Niner.

These new wheels are laced with SuperComp DT Swiss spokes to DT Swiss 350 hubs. I chose those hubs after Mike showed them to me in his shop in Grand Junction. I had stopped at his shop to drop off the rims on vacation as it was on our route of I-70 to begin with and it saved on shipping. I was amazed how easy the front hub converts between 15mm TA and QR. It is a bit different conversion than my Specialized hubs which convert by changing the end caps, but the DT Swiss 350 is just as quick and easy with an axle that pops in and out in a second or two. I need this option because of the bikes I own use both standards and I swap wheels from rig to rig quite often. The DT 240 hub also converts, but requires tools and time to swap (much like the American Classic and Chris King hubs I now have and use that also require tools and time to swap).  So the 350 hubs were chosen (not to mention price is a bit less). I have to say, they are sharp looking!

Rims out of the box...

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The wheels out of the box...

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The new Racing Ralph 2.35's mounted up without any issue. I expected things to be wide on these new rims, but I didn't want to go too wide due to clearance issues on all of my bikes. I debated between all kinds of tires, but know what works well in the soil conditions where I ride. I was also pleased with how well the Ralphs did out west in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, and California to know that if I wanted to head out to the mountains the Ralphs would be fine for my needs there as well as XC racing and riding here in the Midwest. The tires measured up at 60.37mm and 60.40mm right out of the gate (2.37") and look great on the wheels.

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Casing width measures out at 2.35" and change right out of the box...

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Now it is time to move over a pair of rotors and a cassette from an older set of wheels so I can ride these new gems and see how they do out on the trail!

Keeping busy...

I did a lot of trail work at Banner Pits and Center Trails trying to trim back the jungle that is growing this year from an El NiƱo weather pattern. The purchase of a new tool to help speed up the side trimming of trail takes a lot of pressure off of the hands and arms from using one of the hand held/strap over the shoulder gas powered string trimmers. It also prevents me from taking our Toro lawnmower out into the bush to possibly ruin it!!!  The idea being I can use it on Banner, Center, Lake Ahquabi and get some trimming/maintenance work done without my hands going numb. Then I can reach for the hedge clippers and the over the shoulder strap, hand held string trimmer to get to spots that the push behind string trimmer cannot reach.

One of the banes of doing trail work is all of those tools really cause carpal tunnel syndrome which doesn't help with sleep at night when you keep waking up with numb hands. And it makes riding a bike painful as your hands fall asleep a lot while riding. I usually get that syndrome leading up to the race at Ahquabi during the month of September as I trim the canopy and trails, but it appears I have reached that point quite a bit earlier in the season with the hours I have been devoting to trail maintenance. Hand held non-motorized trail work is nice, green, and what not - but it is hell on one's wrists, forearms, and hands.

The Earthquake Viper 173cc engine, 22" cutting path does good work - but I fear this model is going to be high maintenance for me. On the second outing, the tire peeled off of the cheap plastic rim and the rim's plastic spoke bent making it non-fixable (the wheel). Also, one of the trimmer height bolts was stripped out of the box. Adding 2 and 2 together, I exchanged it for another one. Out of the box, the replacement was outfitted with sturdier wheels! I guess Earthquake identified an OEM wheel problem and figured it out. Glad to have a better wheeled model. The trimmer line and the way it attaches is excellent. Other models I have used seem to all be a constant pain to always have to replace the trimmer line as it breaks or flies off. Not with this Viper! The trimmer line stays put and only wears out after hours of trimming. That's a plus. A huge plus. I have also rigged up my hand held string trimmer using an odd stringing method and zip ties with overlap to keep the strings in place so I can get a few hours of trimming time in before having to replace. If I don't do that, the string flies off every 10 or 20 seconds leading to nothing but frustration.

The second Viper out of the box also encountered issues during its maiden voyage. The drive pulley was not engaging very well - or at all - by the end of a 3 hour session. Dang! These are supposed to be high use, heavy weed cutting machines which is why I purchased it! I need to take it apart and see if I can fix that, but was waiting on an email response from the company first to make sure that it is adjustable before I take it all apart and monkey around with it. Hopefully, I can get that up and going so when this current bout of rains moves through I can get out and trim more trail.

First model that lost a wheel...

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Second model with the better wheels...

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The above picture was following a 3 1/2 hour stint at opening up a section of singletrack called J-11 at Center Trails in Des Moines. The area had been flooded, so there was a lot of debris to clear from the trails, and the grass/weeds along the side of the trail was all very tall. The belt started slipping about 5 minutes into the job, but I managed to get done what I needed to before coming out of the woods and leaving the mosquitoes to devour someone else besides me.

I hate things that don't work or break down on such short and proper use. So this story may not yet be finished unfolding as if I cannot get it fixed, I plan on taking full advantage of the warranty and the extended warranty that I purchased.

Hopefully I can get it up and running today with a simple adjustment (or a new belt).

Edit: I took it apart to see how it all functioned and tightened up the cable. Cleaned everything up while I was at it. After a few adjustments and playing with the cable pull, it seems to engage properly. The real test will be out in the woods taking on the growth along the side of the trail.

1 comment:

Allison SMITH said...

Hey! great article. very helpful. The information is very well written and very well explained. Thank you for sharing. carbon bicycle wheels