Gravel bike time 

So N+1 time ….. The latest itch is to get something between the titanium 29er and my titanium road bike ….. So titanium gravel grinder surely.

Pickenflick currently hitting the value for money button and a moots routt 45 hitting the silly sausage spend part of the brain.

As for bits I have been looking at tyres and this tyre review looks spot on.


Schwalbe G-One tyre.jpg

The lack of a tube means no pinch punctures, which means you can drop the pressure for more grip and comfort. Schwalbe states a range of 45-70psi but for the most part I ran them at the bottom of that range, or below. On the road, 50psi was good for back lane riding and 60psi was the most I ever put in them. For off-road and mixed surface rides I ran them at 30psi with no problems at all.
And they’re fast. I mean, really fast. Not just fast for a big tyre, fast full stop. If you’re battering around on well-surfaced A and B roads then you’d expect them to be a fair bit slower. In reality, they’re not: my best time on this 50km/h smashfest of a segment (link is external) on a proper road bike on 25mm tyres is just under four and half minutes. My best time on the G-Ones was only 15 seconds off that. And that’s on a gravel bike with a more upright position – you could argue that the extra drag from the rider is easily worth the difference.
Once you’re off the good roads and onto the average ones – and we have plenty of them – any conceivable difference in rolling speed is easily outweighed by the comfort of the big air chamber, and the fact that you don’t have to ease off and pick your line: just batter on through. I’ve not managed to put a hole in them that the sealant hasn’t immediately coped with. And that’s with some deliberately risky line choices through all kinds of back-road detritus.
I’ve taken them off road too, and they’re great for unsurfaced fire roads and farm tracks, blasting along with aplomb. The more technical things get, the more you’re thinking that a bigger air chamber might give you a bit more margin for error, but even crashing into rocks with enough force to ding a rim didn’t manage to flat them, and on most off-road surfaces they still offer fantastic levels of grip. Once things start to get really claggy the tread fills up and you’d be better off with a proper off-road tyre, but you can get away with most conditions.

The only downside, really, is the wear rate, but that’s a double-edged sword: it’s the soft tread compound that gives the excellent grip and it’s not as hardy as some. Personally I’ll take the longevity hit for the feel and grip while they last. And it’s not like they’ll be done in a couple of weeks, I’m six months into this test pair and they’re still going strong.
I know plenty of people who’ve tried these tyres now, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love them. Try them. You’ll love them.

Fantastically capable all-rounder tyre for roads, ruts and rocks

Make and model: Schwalbe G-One

Size tested: 700x38C

Tell us what the product is for, and who it’s aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Schwalbe says: “The Schwalbe One family provides the perfect tire for the latest gravel bike trend. The smooth rolling G-One profile and Tubeless Easy technology make it a pleasure to ride over forest paths and rolling fields.”
If your frame has enough space, select the 40mm version. Larger volume is always an advantage when riding off-road.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Tubeless Technology
We at SCHWALBE believe that tubeless is the tire technology of the future!
Tubeless Easy MicroSkin
Tubeless is the tire technology of the future. Tubeless tires bring clear advantages in speed, comfort, grip and puncture protection.
Triple Compound
Our best and most sophisticated compound.
Triple compound. Perfectly adapted to the specific purpose. MTB (PaceStar, TrailStar, VertStar), Roadrace (OneStar), Tour (RoadStar, TravelStar)
EVO Line
The very best possible.
Highest grade materials.
Latest technology.

Rate the product for quality of construction:9/10

Rate the product for performance:9/10

Rate the product for durability:7/10

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)7/10

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)10/10

Rate the product for value: 8/10



Tyre story – Hans Dampf Evo MTB Tyre – SnakeSkin

The new tyre

It has been a while since I reviewed anything so thought I would share my thoughts on something that just seems to work. I am not very swap and try when it comes to equipment I just like good stuff that works well, it might not have the very best of the best quality but has to do what it does well. Take my brake spec on my mtb – I asked Carl at the shop what brakes to get – he was steering me towards hope when I mentioned these should be fit and forget type brakes. Hence the same XTR brakes on my bike for 6 years and apart from 1 bleed and 3 different sets of pads nothing has been fiddled with.

But tyres have had their issues. I was on the misconceived idea that I was sort of racer having tried 3 sets of racing Ralph’s over the years. But grip was pretty sketchy in scotland doing typical riding and sidewall was a painfully thin learning curve having ripped two sidewalls open riding flinty tracks a half hour for the house.

I moved onto maxxis ardent tyres and I liked them a lot more. It was only an issue with a bad thorn and dried up sealant after 2 years of no maintenance that made me think I should take more care. I refilled the sealant and pumped the tyre up hard (60psi) to seal the edges. Max recommendation is 45psi for the tyre width and rim but seriously – I had tea to make and drink when BANG the tyre had popped off the bead was stretched and sealant was on the wall.

So I started shopping for a new front tyre and I decided to go wider and bought a trail star hans dampf 29×2.35 

Fitted pretty easily on stans rim and sealed very easily. 

On the trail the HD is a step up from the ardent – incredible feedback from the front and stays planted on the trail. When railing through berms the slightly worn ardent on the back would start washing out before the front. As for trail speed I didn’t notice a huge drag factor and let’s face it the weakest link in a race setup would be still be me.

Was thinking about replacing the worn ardent on the rear in a while and whilst a HD is tempting I have read that it rips easier there and most people seem to suggest a nobby Nick is a good match. More on that later.

no space for 26 anymore

Having a clear out and getting rid of the tyres at the back of the cupboard – all 26″ tyres (or tires as those less proficient in language like to say)

All Tubeless ready / UST

Michelin ATX 26×2.2 £10

Schwalbe Racing Ralph 26×2.1 UST £15

Schwalbe Ice Spiker PRO 26×2.1 Tubeless Ready (only used to race Strathpuffer 24 in Jan 2013 – some spikes missing but other than that nearly no wear … replacement spikes available) £25

maxxis Medusa 26×2.1 Tubeless (I think this is even quicker than racing ralph and better grip in marginal conditions). £15

or £50 all in incl postage to save my faffing

Strathpuffer 2013 – the 24hr race I failed at


It is always down to preparation. Rarely will you do well at  a race unless you are fully prepared.

For the Strathpuffer my intentions had been good but then some things came up that messed with my plans a bit.

1. I started work on a documentary series on Syria that saw me filming away from home. Istanbul life was hectic enough and although I tried to hit the gym – those horrible gym bikes never feel like real training.

2. I came back to do one last long ride – before my taper – but whether it was the 2 degree weather, my pathetic wet gloves and freezing feet. The bugs i probably breathed in flying in the day before … but I got man flu sick. I spent Tuesday,Wednesday and thursday going to bed at 8pm and trying to sleep it out and get healthy.

3. I had the equipment sorted. Great bike lights, new cleats on my winter boots, toasty Sealskin mtb gloves and spare discs for the bike.

I spent Friday driving up past Inverness to the race location at Strathpeffer. I was swigging calpol and cough medicine and downing cold and flu tablets and treating myself to throat lozenges …. I wasn’t pretty. But then out the front of the window the view was a tad scary.

drive up1

Got there and saw the accommodation for the night …. we were hardly roughing it.

how we slummed it

Race day rolled around and Dr Heart was going first – I had cycled 50m up the road from the camper to realise the whole fire road was iced. So after the bunch went past i started to put on the Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pro’s

ice spiker

I didn’t get them both on in time for my turn to lap – the tubeless was not going to work so Heart did a second lap and in the confusion so did I sans dibber …. Dr Heart said a few cross words (naughty C and F words) and headed out on the 3rd lap. The Ice Spikers were amazing I couldn’t stand on the trail but i could cycle it which I find quite mind-blowing.


switchback single track climbs in the middle
switchback single track climbs in the middle
tom rocks
Dr Heart on the rock single track

The course was great – fireroad climb technical rock section singletrack across the top then a sweet descent back to the start – all just 10km long

the sweep
me on that easy fast descent

… our camper was halfway up the fireroad so the laps on strava always include our off lap.

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 11.33.42

Robbie and Huw were another team of pairs and they sped off on their laps – after a few laps they were running 4th and we were 15th …. out of 50 pair teams. Huw was bashing out laps of 37min within a few seconds of that (and all night stayed in the 45-47 mark) and Robbie was steady at 42min (which he did for the whole race) Da Automaton

My breathing was sketchy post cold and I had my HRM beep me if it went over 145bpm  so my laps were a slow 45min – 52min. After 6 laps i had to ask Tom to do a double as my coughing now had an iron after taste. Huw and Robbie were now tying for 2nd and we were up to 7th although 1.5 laps behind. Dr Heart, Huw and Robbie were also all on 29er’s which got me thinking …. (but for another post)

But after my 8th lap I said I couldn’t do anymore (well I couldn’t afford to get sick all week). My legs felt great and if it wasn’t for my cough I am sure I would have lasted. Dr Heart pulled on some more impressive distance but then got shut eye for 5.5 hours. When we were both up again Huw and Robbie were winning by 10min and we were back in 15th although Thom did a last lap flyer and he clawed us up to a 14th.

The winners won their prizes … then it was a 4hr drive home …. YAWN

huw and robbie won

There is a Strathpuffer LITE (in SUMMER) …. Mmmmmmm maybe

And YES of course there were FAT BIKES there


Not all bike things are fun

My significant other once dismissed my moaning at fixing her puncture as ‘but you love this’

Correction I don’t ….
So tonight I was on a repair mission. Jolene has had 3 punctures on the glass strewn streets of glasgow over the last two months – I would blame her not avoiding glass but that is difficult when it is winter and the lights don’t really pick out the debris. Also the Stelvio Lights are only really a choice if you have smooth pavement and no crap to deal with – the amount of glass i fished outof the treads during the last repair was scary ……
So last week I was in Istanbul working and she suffered yet again – but took my bike to work until an icy day where she lost the bike on a corner and went smack down badly bruising herself and snapping off the wee hook that hooks the front wheel onto the rear triangle when folding. So two bikes out of commission.
So ordered tubes and tyres from SJS – schwalbe marathon plus ouch they cost – and a replacement hook for me.

The bikes are filthy too so got well mucky although will give them a clean over the weekend and oil them again – only doing 50 miles a week but the bikes sure get messy.

So two bikes back folded and content ….. Must get out for a ride instead of just turbo action ….


Schwalbe redesign their racing Ralph

The Racing Ralph gets a new tread pattern this year along, and will utilize the cross-country PaceStar Compound. The new profile has rearranged the knobs, and should give a more consistent feel (* for me this is important of sliding on my arse with the slightest amount of mud on the tyre – grip goes instantly with no warning), with better transitioning and traction.

The 29er profile was also tweaked, and is more spread out then the 26er, to take advantage of the big wheels larger contact area. They did a major overhaul on the casing, changing it from 67tpi to 127tpi, giving it a more supple feel, and losing 30 grams and decreasing the rolling resistance by 20 percent. The new tires are certainly light, coming in at 455 grams for the 26×2.1, 495 grams for the 26×2.25, 495 grams for the 29×2.1, and 535 grams for the 29×2.25 size. The tires are all tubeless ready (except for the Performance series), and come in a slew of version and sizes, including 26×2.1, 26×2.25, 27 1/2 x 2.25, 29×2.1, 29x 2.25 and a big wide 2.9×2.35. The TL ready tires have some optional sidewall versions, such as SnakeSkin and DoubleDefense, and they even have hand-made tubulars. They also added a 4Cross edition of the Racing Ralph using the new GateStar compound with SnakeSkin sidewalls and come in a 26×2.25 sizing. The GateStar is a combination of the PaceStar for the center section, and the downhill VertStar for the shoulders, giving it great usage for 4Cross, SuperD and Enduro racing.

A confusing mix all with the same name …..  more info here 

Here is just part of the dizzying variety on offer. Do you think they need to make the difference clearer?



Another day at Glentress and another Racing Ralph UST torn

I was filming last week – but schedule was to do so in Peebles and promised an early 4:30pm finish. So a plan was hatched to hit Glentress in the late afternoon for a burn up the hill to the radio mast. I put the Carver Ti Bride (my rohloffed 96er) on the roof of the car.

I had a nagging feeling that I had left something behind as I was driving down the road but had been going through the checklist….

Bike … check

Shoes … check

Helmet … check

Pumps (air and shock) check … you get the idea … then whilst filming I thought of socks and thought Bingo that’s what I forgot … luckily the very excellent BSpoke bikes was a couple of hundred metres away – and the BikeHub at Glentress is also great although I had a fear that it may have closed early …..

So got to the centre paid my £3 parking then set the Garmin 305 onto the ride I did in a pack and in snow in Jan in an effort to see how much quicker summer is.

The route I took (GPX file is here if you want it) in Jan was followed as I was soon so far ahead I couldnt see the little figure that acts as a pace maker when doing Garmin routes ….

The ride is lovely winding up the red and black routes to the radio mast at the top ….

You go over the little wood tricks on the way up – a great way to get your focus balanced before pointing downhill.

Skinny's on the way up

The higher black part of the climb has one or two tricky sections but the idea is to get all the way up without putting your foot down … I did but only for a p*ss break !! (the gpx file for the route up is here)

Radio Mast - all downhill from here

Got to the radio mast in about 1h10min and then I was ready for a smashing downhill. 200m down the road as I was leaving the Fire Road to get onto first singletrack …. Clank ….. Tsssssss. My new Racing Ralph UST was pissing air. Rolling it on side to get sealant to plug was no use … tried adding high volume air and lay on side for gloop to work and no good.

Thought I would have to bite the bullet and put a tube in as the hole / tear was pretty small when it dawned on me … that earlier nagging feeling. I gave my last inner tube to my friend Findlay when he had a puncture and I wasn’t carrying one.

some of the single track I missed

BUT … it was a beautiful night – the air was still and sun was pure delight … I help up the saddle and proceeded to run down the mountain following the escape route. It was just over 13km up and only a 4.7km run down in stiff carbon soled MTB shoes. Still exercise is exercise.

Shame to miss out on the nice singletrack descent and the swooping bermed loveliness but I could have been working or sat on my arse somewhere.

Comparing the routes in Sportypal it was interesting to see my average speed up was higher than my up/down average in a group in the snow in Jan

HRM route reading on the Suunto Movescount site

The question at the end is why Schwalbe one of the biggest and some say best tyre manufacturers has such a problem in their UST department? Having one Racing Ralph rip on a normal groomed made MTB course could be construed as unlucky but to have a second one go so quickly is ridiculous. The terrain is not rough – probably smoother than nearly every XC course I have ridden on. So good riddance to the RR and time to get the Maxis Larsen TT on the bike.

Has anyone else had a problem with Racing Ralph’s?

Rossin Marathon fixie


Back in the ’80s, a Rossin was the bike of choice for many an aspiring roadie with dreams of being the next Francesco Moser or Andy Hampsten. The brand are now back in the UK thanks to importers Grupetto Italia. Part ’50s ‘bobber’, part hip urban fixie and part hardtail mountain bike, the Marathon’s mixed bag of design influences manages to make it more than a blast – it’s a revelation!

Built with Rossin’s special double-butted chromoly tubing, the traditional looking frame features clean TIG welds, chunky track dropouts and elegant seatstay and chainstay bridges. Despite its 1in head tube and retro frame styling harking back to classic ’80s steel mountain bikes, the ride characteristics and handling are thoroughly up to date.

Accelerating eagerly with every pedal stroke, the Marathon hits its stride in no time and it stays there due to its low rolling resistance and a not insubstantial amount of rotating mass. The wheels are shod with unfeasibly large Fat Franks by Schwalbe – some of the most amazing tyres we’ve ridden.

Hitting the woods and waterlogged singletrack, when let down to their soft 22psi minimum pressure, the large volume and all-enveloping contact patch mean you can go pretty much anywhere that a more aggressive 26in knobbly might take you. But when cranked up to their 60psi maximum, high speeds and diesel-soaked wet slabs of tarmac provide thrills rather than terror.

The Marathon’s efficient frame is both light and nimble handling, making it great for either dodging in and out of commuter traffic or picking your way along muddy single-track. The requisite three-to-one fixed/freewheel gear ratio of 81in – provided by a 48-tooth chainring and 16t sprocket – is long-legged enough to catch a draft behind a double-decker.

A tasteful selection of highly polished forged aluminium components adds to the sorted look, offering excellent ergonomics and comfort, although the classically shaped cantilever brakes require Popeye forearms to get the job done. With a cocktail of design influences and updated tech, this variation on the urban fixie will keep you entertained and still get you to work on time.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.


Cant help imagining what an alfine with drop bars could do for the bike….

I escaped on the bike – a day less working

Managed to escape the edit and get out in daylight … we went as a family down the road to Mono to hear a music session. Frightened Rabbit were playing one of our favourite bands … first however past an exhibition where we spent £250 on a new painting for the house ….

at the lights

Ruby 6yo rode her IslaBike and Bella was on the back of the Yuba Mundo … I got to ride the Klein Single Speed – sexed up with the (easy to puncture) Schwalbe Fat Frank white treads.

There is alway time to stop and practise balance with the family – a life work balance

Spring Clean – small changes to the Ti Bride

There I had it – had an hour to spare whilst some computer effect work rendered so out to the garage it was.

OLD EGGBEATERS removed (free to a good home so drop me a line)

New XTR pedals put on …


like a big fat zero



Old 2BLISS Specialised ‘The Captain’ removed – only holds air for two days – its a UST / 2bliss ready hatefest.

New Racing Ralph put on (hopefully not to be destroyed like the last one)



all sorted



SPIFFING … and back to work