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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Vee Rubber New Tires

A look at the new rubber from Vee Rubber.
Test riders are riding the tires now, check back for first impressions.

    • I rode this tire today. I was actually thinking it would be very similar to the Small Block 8 as the center knobs are also low and about the same height - fast on the straights and struggle in the turns.
      I was wrong.
      This tire felt like it had little suction cups on it in the corners.
      The key difference from the SB8 is that the farthest side knobs are also low which means that when pushed do not fold over like so many other tires do, but more spaced out so able to dig deeper into the surface debris.
      There are also no longitudinal bare spots around the circumference of the tire. This means that every possible angle the tire hits the ground has a knob to grip it.
      This one is a 2.0 width, something I almost never run, but I was impressed with how it gripped, both front and rear.
    • 2nd ride:
      With a heavier casing the tire pressure can be run lower than on a super lightweight race carcass.  At lower pressure the tire, as most will do, tends to over-steer.  That means when turning the wheel wants to turn more aggressively than normal.  An odd feeling for sure.

    • Mounted these up front and rear on the race bike. Very similar to the Traction Power I rode before.  These are slightly smaller and were mounted to slightly more narrow rims.  The key difference is the side know patter (see pic) .
      Different course today. They felt fast, and stable. Like when u go from full suspension bike to a hard tail, that feeling of stability. This thanks to the low knobs. No roll when turning either.
      In the turns they were good, though maybe not as sticky as the Traction Control.
      I was happy with the performance of the tire. In straight line it was fast, rolled very fast, and in corners held its own.
      With the similarity from this to the Traction Control I will need a little more time to evaluate the differences.
      These Vee Rubber tires mount up easily with No-Tibes sealant. 4 tires and no persuading the tire to seal, they just mount and hold air.

Race-V, Speed-R and Trax are all very similar treads and handle similarly.

The Speed-R is similar in looks to the Race-V .
Surprisingly fast and sticky in the corners for what you would expect from its looks.  This may well be the go-to tire for all around use.
The Speed-R feels very solid in the corners. Leaning the bike yields no mushy-ness as so many other tires do.  Transition from vertical to a full lean is smooth and predictable - something that is becoming common among Vee Rubber tires.

Cory Rimmer is on the V 12 currently.  The tire is reported to be super fast - almost like a road slick.  It corners superbly in dry hardback conditions, but in the mud the little knobs do clog up and provide little traction. It is meant as a dry conditions tire and does that well.  
During a cross race Cory said he was hitting his pedals in the turn before the tires ever complained about the corner.  Lock the brakes up or hit a mud patch and the tires pack up, so these are dry condition tires only.

"When I first rode on the 12s the lack of razed side k knobs were quickly noticeable. The bike felt like it wanted to fall into the turn. After a few more turns I began to compensate for the lack of “support” you feel with tall side knobs and began lean the farther than I thought I could. Instead breaking lose and drifting into a turn I just kept lean as of I were on a motorcycle on the road.
I know I will be using the 12 a lot this season. With super low rolling resistance and the ability to take corners faster than most would dare. What more could a xc racers looking to win ask for?"

Cory went on to win the 24 Hours of BURN solo men in 2012.

update:  The 2013 V-12 tire sees higher knobs for longer wear and a little more bite into the deep.  Several of the tires got a facelift for 2013 after feedback from riders and reviews.  Vee is eager to please.

The 7 is a to like the 26 inch Rail.  Our test riders are not reporting as exciting feedback as from the other Vee Rubber  tires. The tread is fast like the other models, but the large lugged side knobs do not bite as well as other V tires do.  Something is not quite right on the side traction; it handles like any other tire, and that is not expected from the new offerings from Vee Rubber otherwise.

Race-V 29'er and V-10 29'er

Spinning tire.  The Speed-R in motion shows the profile of the knobs.  A distinct space between the side knobs and the center knobs should hook up in muddy conditions when sliding sideways (or prevent that).
Usually a blank space means a blank somewhere in the lean angle, and a loss of traction, but by moving the blank space further out seems to work, perhaps at that distance out the knobs help the tire deform enough to flatten out over the terrain.

The Rail in motion. A good spread of knobbies and a smooth transition from vertical to full lean.

Friday, December 2, 2011


Engineered Compression 3-Dimensional

The scene can be reminiscent of the late 1800’s if viewed in black and white.  Young guys with bikes in the background, long shorts, or knickers over black tights.  Maybe it’s the latest fashion trend from Paris, but these guys are serious about their tights.

Whether it’s an after work rider or a full time pro the competitive juices flow strong in today’s athletes.  Training is hard, but the strength gains occur during the rest intervals.  That’s why so many take recovery so seriously.

EC3D active wear gives the muscles support with gradual compression starting at the extremities and decreasing towards the heartThis helps the blood flow back to the heart easier.  The external compression reduces fatigue by preventing muscle oscillation and also reduces the blood volume of superficial venous compartments.  EC3D helps align the posture by “cinching” muscles into place.  This supports the posture and musculoskeletal alignment to make training more effective.

What separate EC3D from other compression garments are the fabric’s specific functions.  The EC3D compression garments have a long history in the medical field providing healing benefits and now are benefiting athletes.  The key is graduated compression, which is measured in mmHG (millimeters of Mercury), and targeted compression on the muscle. The balanced surface pressure triggers improved blood circulation.  EC3D is able to provide a tight fit because of their semi-custom sizing, and this is good because the 70% Polypropylene/ 30% spandex fabric is not as elastic as typical nylon/spandex tights.


The recovery tights put more compression on the muscles by using a higher stitch count on targeted areas. This gives the garments their futuristic super-athlete look to them.  These compression zones maximize blood flow and speed up the removal of lactic acid other toxins.  Use after a hard workout for several hours, and even wear overnight for amazing effects.

The garments are individually crafted on circular knitting machines specific to each size.  The textile science behind the Engineered Compression 3-Dimentional (EC3D) technology allows them to weave the different compression characteristics into key areas of the fabric rather than rely on sewn together pieces of fabric.


The shorts seem to be missing the lower half, but are not intended for vascular return, rather to support the muscles in the groin area. Groin injuries are common for active sports, but the EC3D shorts will speed recovery. The compression short gives the muscles shape through graduated compression and help protect the abs, lower back, gluteus, thighs and groin.


EC3D’s compression socks will improve blood circulation furthest away from the heart.  Claims that it, “enhances blood flow, oxygenates muscles and prevents venous pooling,” seem well founded. When wearing the socks the lower legs feel rejuvenated.

At the top EC3D offers shirts.  The compression shirt is primarily for reducing inflammation in the arms, and improving blood flow - the same as the other garments do. Getting the shirt on takes a little practice to get it oriented correctly, but the tight fit supports the arm muscles, preventing that muscle oscillation.  It also provides some support to the torso, which improves posture by compressing and aligning the muscles yielding less post-exercise soreness.

The Gusset

The “gusset” is a unique feature to the EC3D tights and shorts.  Shaped like an orange wedge, the gusset spans from mid-thigh, up and back down to mid-thigh. For those athletes not accustom to wearing tight fitting clothing this will be a relief as the gusset makes it very roomy in the shorts area.  The gusset is the result of the tights being made as one seamless tube, cut, the legs sewn and the crotch added with the gusset. 

The gusset is not necessarily a comfortable fit for those wanting more support in a garment, particularly for those used to a snug fit.  For cyclist, the seams of the gusset cross right through the chamois area, the very spot where rider and saddle meet.  While in reality this is a minor issue and will not chaff the rider, it is not ideal comfort.  If worn under cycling shorts the droop of the gusset will prevent the shorts from fitting perfectly.  Pulling the tights up higher is near impossible due to the semi-custom fit.  The EC3D garments stay where they are designed to stay.  The cavity of space created with the gusset could cause issues of discomfort or pain when bouncing uncontrollably on the saddle; guys.

The best solution is for EC3D to build the garments on their loom one leg at a time and connect the right and left halves. This would provide the men a little more support and also bring the compression zone higher up the muscles for everyone.

This is not a big deal, and I would not base your decision to purchase on this.  It's a slight imperfection, but the over-all benefit from wearing EC3D far outweighs this minor issue.

The EC3D compression technology is far superior to all other compression manufacturers out there.  The improved blood circulation delivers oxygen better and helps eliminate muscle toxins, and give the athlete a performance edge!


   IMPROVED BLOOD CIRCULATION EC3D compression garments direct blood flow from capillaries to blood vessels, enhancing oxygen exchange between the blood and muscles. This exchange primes the body for maximum efficiency and endurance.
   REDUCED RECOVERY TIME Studies show that athletes who wear EC3D compression garments for three hours or more, right after strenuous activity, experience less inflammation and muscle soreness.
   REDUCED MUSCLE OSCILLATION The compression zone is strategically placed around the muscles. This reduces muscle oscillation, which can cause micro-tears in the muscles.
   BETTER MUSCLE ALIGNMENT Seamless, graduated compression hugs the muscles where it counts, aligning the musculoskeletal system and allowing for precise movements.
   29 % REDUCTION IN LACTIC ACID Lactic acid build-up is a major source of muscle fatigue that causes cramps and soreness. Scientific studies have proven that EC3D garments reduce this build-up by 29%.
   BETTER POSTURE AND BALANCE Your posture is enhanced when your muscles are cinched into place, and with a good posture comes better stability
   INCREASED OXYGEN DELIVERY TO MUSCLES Strategic compression prevents blood pooling and better circulation, which in turn means better oxygenation of muscles. It will match oxygenation levels with the muscle's energy demands.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

DZ Nuts Bliss

DZ Nuts Bliss
Chamois Cream

Cricket Butler is a winner of 2010 Tour Divide, an avid outdoor enthusiast with decades of experience ranging from long distance backpacking, mountaineering, endurance mountain biking, to long distance canoe expeditions.  Her adventures have taken her to all corners of the globe and to some of the most extreme environments stretching from the shores of the Yukon River to the summit of Aconcagua.  Currently, she is coaching to help others find their potential as she continues to search for new and unique challenges for herself.  She has always followed her heart and at 43 encourages others not to put life on hold!

Here is what she says about DZnuts Bliss chamois cream:
"I did not find DZnuts Bliss until June 2010 and since then I have logged thousands of harsh miles with Bliss.  Before that, I had heard about this new product hitting the cycling markets, but thought it was a bit costly. I was also unsure of its quality, so I continued to experiment with the variety of creams already circulating around, never really finding one product that completely satisfied my needs.

I found my way to DZnuts Bliss (the female version of DZnuts), in the middle of Montana, in a small inconspicuous bike shop, locked in a glass showcase.  I was about 750 miles into the 2,800 mile Tour Divide Race, a self-supported mountain bike race from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. 
  A smaller amount of Bliss is required for application, so this smaller tube lasts a long time.  Bliss has a slew of natural ingredients that prevent fungal growth, have anti-inflammatory attributes, and most importantly ingredients to aid in healing pre-existing conditions.“Complications”, shall we say, from riding 12-16 hours a day became a problem.  Once I reached Butte, Montana, the discomfort from developing saddle sores was high, increasing and nothing was healing because I could not take time off the bike.   That day I traded the other products I was using in for a tube of DZnuts Bliss as recommended by the bike Shop.

I had LOTS of time to test this product and in every condition imaginable as I did not reach the Mexican Border for 26 days.  Bliss was in my back jersey pocket all the way. 

I have to admit this is the BEST product on the market! Bliss healed existing “issues” I was having without me taking anytime off the bike, and prevented new ones from surfacing! Being packaged in a small narrow tube allowed simple and clean application as well as being compact and streamline to carry.

  The only thing I would like to add to its long list of characteristics would be a numbing component.  I say this jokingly, but seriously that’s the only thing missing. As one might imagine, being in the saddle for days and days without a rest and a lot of time to think, I began to wonder how to improve this product - that's all I could come up with - a numbing component - maybe just a special edition for Tour Divide Racers!

Again – DZnuts Bliss is a quality product that will keep you in the saddle longer and is well worth the cost! I will never apply anything else in my shorts!"

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Marmot Alpinist Bivy

Marmot Alpinist Bivy
Product Review
By Cricket Butler of TotalCyclist

The Marmot Alpinist bivy is a true minimal back country shelter weighing in at a mere 14oz.  This is a non-frill bivy – simple in design and function.  No matter your adventure, this dependable bivy is extremely compactable and takes up little room in your backpack, allowing your surroundings and activity to prevail.  Why be burdened with the extra weight of a shelter when all you need is basic protection from the wind, rain and cold?

See How To Buy Online
There are two key components to the success of the Alpinist Bivy.  The first is the 100% seam taped MemBrain® Strata™ fabric, which allows it to breathe completely, even while providing superior protection from the wind and rain.  This bivy can withstand the harshest of storms and keep you dry with minimal to zero condensation build-up. 

The MemBrain® Strata™ is Marmot’s own lightweight, waterproof and breathable technology.  The material requires no layering of fabrics or liners in the construction, making the MemBrain® Strata™ products the lightest and most waterproof on the market.
The second is the oversize bag design with the one zipper extending half the length of the bivy.  This allows the luxury of gear to be placed in the bag with you and protected from the weather as well.  The larger silhouette gives extra room for mobility within the bivy as well as increased ventilation by draping the oversize “hood” area, and leaving the zipper open yet protected from the elements.  The large storm flap over the zipper provides more than sufficient protection for extreme conditions blocking out wind, rain or snow. 

I am sure you are asking the same questions I did, can this fragile looking bivy really be durable and dependable protection for the extreme and frequent conditions I will put it through?  My first experience with the Alpinist Bivy was for a 30-day mountain bike race.  Since that race, the bivy has journeyed to multiple bikepacking trips, mountain bike self-supported races, and to the top of the highest mountain in the southern hemisphere, all where space and weight were crucial. 

I have had the same Marmot Alpinist Bivy now for over 3 years and it is still providing the same level of protection as the day it was new.  The only drawback I have found would be the absence of mosquito netting for those environments that warrant it.  I rigged mine with some netting and now I consider this the perfect minimalist shelter!

Bottom line - if you are in the outdoors to enjoy what you are doing and need a dependable shelter, then this is the bivy for you.  If you are in the outdoors to enjoy the wilderness time comfortably and chill around camp, then seek a tent.

Bivy Specifics:
  •           Marmot MemBrain® Strata™ waterproof and breathable fabric
  •           Fully Seam Taped
  •           Highly Compressible
  •     Storm Flap
  •     Max Weight: 15 oz
  •     Min Weight: 14 oz
  •           Dimensions: 8x36x86 in / 20x91x218 cm
  •           Packed Size: 6 x9 in / 15x23 cm
  •          Tent Floor Material: 40d 100% Nylon Ripstop 3000mm W/R, F/R
  •     Tent Canopy Material: MemBrain® Strata™ 100% Nylon Ripstop 2.2 oz/yd