Monday, January 23, 2012

Fat, we gotcher fat right here...

NAHBS is right around the corner. Frame builders are busy getting preparing their show pieces. Last year, some of the most popular bikes were road bikes designed to accommodate large tires. In fact, three of the big winners were 700c road type bikes that were fitted with fat road tires and fenders. Best in Show was a DiNucci roadster. Best Road Frame was by Ellis Cycles and featured fat road tires with fenders. President's Choice Award was won by Anderson Custom Bicycles for his, yep, you guessed it, road bike with fat tires and fenders.

What's the point of all this? All these bikes feature 700c wheels, fenders, and fat road tires. It's been said that this show is being attended and noted by all the major bike companies and the bikes that are being presented at the show are indicative of what the major bike companies will be developing in the next few years. If last year's show is any indication, the majors will be coming out soon with road bikes that will easily swallow 28s and up to mid-30mm tires along with fenders. Haven't really seen them yet, but you will.

Recently, there was an article in Bicycle Retailer & Industry News about gravel riders going "the distances on triple cranks, fat road tires." In it representatives of a couple of tire companies, Clement and Continental, comment that they are getting requests for tires in larger sizes and are wondering what frames are out there that fit these large tires.

Tire companies are really driven by the OEM specification. Tire companies are hesitant to open expensive tire molds at the behest of a handful of small folks asking for larger versions of smaller currently available tires or small versions of larger currently available tires. On the dirt side, there is a big void, in my world, in the 35-45 size. I would personally love to see a WTB Nanoraptor tread on a 700 x 40-45 size tire. Conversely, I would love to see a Continental 4-Season in a 700 x 32.

And I have the perfect bikes in mind for these tires available right now. The Black Mountain Cycles cross frame with a 700 x 40/45 Nanoraptor would just be the absolute perfect off-road machine. The Black Mountain Cycles road frame shod with a Continental 4-Season 700x32 would be ideal for mixed terrain riding here in Marin or any area with buff dirt roads.

You don't have to wait for these machines. You can get them now. You might have to wait for more tires. However, there are still a pretty good selection of tires available now. Here's a list of some.

Fat Road Tires
Any 28 - I like Continental 4-Season and Clement Strada LLG. The Panaracer Pasela is also a good option. It is available in 28 and 32 that would fit my road frame. The Challenge Parigi-Roubaix 27 is also a great riding tire. The actual measurements of this tire on some wider road clincher rims is getting close to 30mm.

Fat Cross Tires
Kenda Happy Medium 40 is a great tire for hardpack dirt. The Panaracer FireCross 45 is an ideal dirt tire (a little slow on the pavement, but completely at home in the dirt). There are a bunch of tires labeled as 29" x 1.9 that fit my cross frame too. The Kenda Karma is one. There's also a few Bontrager and Specialized tires available.

Folks will point out that there are a lot of tires in the 700 x 32 to 42 range that are currently available. However, most of those are touring tires that feature heavy, stiff casings with road deadening belts. These tires are great for areas with sharp rock, heavy road debris, or for an application where you want the ultimate in flat protection. Those tires for most places, including here in Marin, are overkill and lend to a harsh ride.

So, I am looking forward to 2012 and seeing more availability of fat road and fat cross tires with high thread count, supple casings and proper tread designs. I'm tired of finding what promises to be a proper tire only to find it's just another heavy hybrid tire. What say you, tire manufacturers? But first, the big bike companies need to ask for these tires so tire makers can justify production.

You can be ahead of the curve by picking up a Black Mountain Cycles road or cross frame. Get one now and be the envy of your riding buddies when they realize how much fun these bikes are.

bmc 001

bmc-cross 008

Here's some dirt road riding inspiration from Caletti Cycles, Steel Wul, and Peter Johnson (in the blue Bianchi jersey).

Seems the embed feature isn't working well, but click on the "Big Basin Jan 2012" link for the super cool video.

Big Basin Jan 2012 from John Caletti / Caletti Cycles on Vimeo.

(What's playing: KWRM The Kitchen Sink)


Chris said...

agree on the Clement Strada tires... very nice riding tire and not too expensive either...

Gary B. said...


My tires are getting fatter as I'm getting skinnier! Seems the same has happened to P. Johnson...

Invisible Hand said...

I've been looking for "fat" road tires for the past few years. Schwalbe produces the Kojak which is a slick 35mm road tire. Schwalbe also lists some of their regular road tires in 700x32c but I have never actually seen one. Grad Bois tires are also supple and come in a wide 32 mm. Lastly, I have heard good things about the Vittoria Hyper Randonneur tires which come in some very wide sizes -- 37 and 40 mm according to the ERTO label.

Anonymous said...

I really would like to see a 32c GP 4 Season as well!

...But what I'd really like to see is a true 28c GP 4 Season. Even on 23mm rims, they only measure to 26mm.

Stop toying with my emotions like that, Continental!

blackmountaincycles said...

I hear ya Gary B!

Good call on the Kojak 35 and Grand Bois tires up there.

Kevin, on wider rims like the Velocity A23, 4-Season 28s are measuring at about 29mm. It does seem that Conti tires do seem to stretch over time a bit.

Anonymous said...

Huh, that's strange. Mine are mounted on H+Son TB14s (23mm as well), and are measuring to 26mm at the moment. Still relatively new though, so hopefully they will stretch out a bit with some more miles.


blackmountaincycles said...

I found the same thing. A new GP 4-season 28 was measuring sub 28 when new and after time it's over 28.

Bike Hermit said...

That orange bike looks phat!