Slimy on the inside

review from – think I might get these …

Slime Pro Pre-filled Lite inner tube 1

These Slime Lite Smart tubes are effectively the same as the regular Smart tubes reviewed previously on, but they address the weight criticism with a lighter inner tube. On our scales this 19/25c inner tube weighed 102g, a 68g saving.

Using a lightweight butyl tube has allowed Slime to reduce the weight. Inside is the same green fluid that is claimed to be able to seal a puncture up to 3mm. I’ve seen a demonstration with a nail and it’s highly impressive, but that’s nothing compared to real-world testing. I’ve had them fitted to my steel touring/training bike, a bike that gets some seriously heavy miles on rough rides, and in three months haven’t had one flat.

To thoroughly test the tubes, I’ve been taking to gravelled byways and bridleways, deliberately trying to inflict harm on the inner tubes. Despite trying, I’ve not managed to run out of luck yet. Tyre choice and pressure is a factor, and for the record I was using Hutchinson Fusion 3 x-Light tyres with 90/95 psi front/rear.

With the weight penalty over a regular inner tube it’s no surprise there is a slight difference in ride performance compared to the previous setup with normal butyl inner tubes. The difference with these new lighter Slime tubes is much smaller and you’ll be hard-pressed to notice the difference, unless you really search for it on climbs and hard accelerations. There’s little difference in ride feel too.

You might not want to fit them to your race bike, but for commuting and training purposes they’re fit for purpose. The small weight increase is offset by the reduced possibility of puncturing, and as we head into autumn with the higher risk of flat tyres – due to more frequent rain washing glass and crap into the road and water acting as a particularly good lubricant for sharp flints to penetrate rubber – they could be worth fitting to your bike.

The reason for buying these inner tubes is obviously to avoid punctures, but unfortunately I haven’t yet suffered a flat in my time testing them. So it was into the garage that I went to conduct a workshop test to find out how they handle being punctured. With the bike in a stand, I pushed a drawing pin through both front and rear tyres. Nothing happened. Pulling the drawing pins out and giving the wheels a spin, then stopping them, the green goo visibly bubbled out through the holes. Then stopped. A couple more revolutions. The Slime had sealed the holes. A pressure gauge revealed the tyres had dropped just 15 psi during this process, from 100 to 85 psi.

I then went for a one hour bike ride, without incident. With the pressure gauge out again once I was back home, the tyres were holding the same 85 psi. That’s a small enough pressure drop that you could puncture during a ride and not even realise.


The upfront cost is higher than a regular inner tube, but you should see a reduction in punctures.

candidate for new wheels – useful on crappy* Scottish roads

Stan’s NoTubes Alpha 340 Team 3.30R wheels are light, fast and strong, and allow easy tubeless setup if you want to ditch your inner tubes.

Tubeless technology is prevalent in the automotive industry and over the last ten years has become commonplace on mountain bikes. So far there has been very little adoption among road cyclists, but with increasingly more choice of wheels and tyres from the big manufacturers, that’s slowly starting to change and road tubeless is seeping into the public consciousness.

Stan’s NoTubes is a name familiar to any mountain biker. The US company has made tubeless technology its USP, with special rim strips, valves and tubeless sealant able to convert most wheels into a no-tubes setup. The company has also developed its own rim, with a special internal rim shape, that it sells in a range of mountain, cyclo-cross and road wheels.

These Alpha 340 Team 3.30R wheels, with their 1,445g weight and £580 price, are very competitive. For comparison purposes, they are about the same weight as Shimano’s Dura-Ace 9000 C24 tubeless-ready wheels and lighter than Fulcrum’s Racing 1 2-Way Fit wheels, but cheaper than both.

The wheels use Stan’s unique rim profile, which incorporates its Bead Socket Technology. This is essentially a sidewall that is 2-4mm lower than a regular rim, and which secures the tyre bead firmly into place. Once it’s locked in there it’s not budging. I’ve had no problems at all inflating tubeless tyres with a hand or track pump onto these rims, and once the tyres are up they stay inflated.

The rim is 22.6mm deep with a 20mm external width and 17mm internal. They’re laced to DT Supercomp Black spokes (24 radial front, 28 2-cross rear) to a pair of 3.30R hubs, with DT Silver Alloy nipples. They’re diddy little hubs and nestled away inside are stainless steel cartridge bearings, which have dealt well with heavy and sustained rain and taken a pasting riding over mud and shit covered roads the past couple of months. The machined braking surface has offered decent braking and shows no sign of wear. The freehub is 11-speed compatible.

Going tubeless couldn’t be easier

The rims are pre-fitted with 2-layers of Stan’s yellow rim tape and a 44mm tubeless valve. Fit a pair of tyres and some sealant and away you go. It really is that easy. The wheels can be run with inner tubes if you prefer, that simply requires removing the valves.

One of the best selling points of tubeless is reduced punctures. Removing the inner tube obviously eliminates the risk of pinch flats – when the inner tube is sandwiched between the tyre and rim. You have to hit a pothole pretty hard to do that, but it’s not impossible.

The most frequent punctures are those caused by glass, sharp stones, flint and thorns puncturing the tyre and popping the tube. They’re more frequent at this time of year, with generally more crap on the roads, but also rain acts as an annoyingly good lubricant for sharp objects to slice into tyres.

Remove the inner tube then, and replace with a liquid latex solution that solidifies upon contact with oxygen, and you have the recipe for less time spent repairing flats. Who doesn’t find that appealing?

I tested the wheels with a pair of Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tyres (you can read the review here Installation couldn’t have been easier, with the required solution poured into the tyre, they inflated first time and have remained trouble-free for the couple of months I’ve been riding the wheels and tyres so far. The tyres are secure on the rims, with no hint of the tyre bead trying to shift in the rim.

Ride: Quick and strong

The wheels offer a sprightly ride, as you would expect from their low overall weight. They zip up to speed quickly, with a good response during out of the saddle sprints. They’re reasonably stiff: push the wheels hard in a flat-out sprint or through a high-speed corner, and there’s no detectable lateral flex.

They’re also comfortable, the alloy rim and double butted spokes a good advert for classic box-section clincher wheels such as these. There’s enough spring in them that rough roads are handled with good composure, making them an ideal year-round well, but especially good as we head into winter.

They’re strong wheels, with impressive durability. I’ve been hammering them purposely through holes and cracks in the broken Tarmac on my local roads, and they simply shrugged it all off. I’ve not even needed to take a spoke key to the nipples yet. The bearings are still lovely and smooth after a couple of months.

They can take the punishment. That makes them ideal wheels for anyone who hammers their bike over rough roads, whether in sportives or racing. Their weight and stiffness makes them ideal on a lightweight racing bike, though they might not have the outright stiffness of carbon wheels for crit races, but longer road races should see them shining. For long distance touring or sportives they’re well suited, with the added peace of mind that the tubeless setup provides. And they’re light enough to put carbon wheels three times their price to shame when it comes to climbing.

I’ve been really impressed with these wheels. The simple tubeless setup, their weight and decent price and staggering good strength and durability. They come with a rider weight limit of 230lb (16 stone/105kg) though.


The Stan’s rims have provided an easy route into road tubeless, with none of the complications often cited by tubeless detractors. The rim profile makes setting up tubeless tyres a doddle, and the fact they come ready to go is a nice touch.


Maxis Medusa – quick review

After last weekends antics I have a quick review on this tyre. I am running a 26 tubeless version on my rohloff titanium mtb. I can only compare it to racing Ralph’s, Larsen TT tyres and specialised the captain.
This tyre is fantastic – I had read it was good for shedding mud but it does more than that – I have not had a slip or twinge from it these past 100km. It held its line on off camber wet rock – gripped through goopy mud and doesn’t seem that slow rolling along fireroads.

Also it holds air well on a UST rim and a wee touch of pink writing is fine by me too. Hopefully get out again the next day or so.

Dream Bike 650b – ritchey beauty

A bike comes along now and again that just looks so right – I love this colour scheme – probably one of the more iconic throwback to the race era of the 70’s and 80’s … Love it


Ritchey built its first 650b bike back in 1977, and now, keeping with the trends and going full circle, it’s producing a frame, tires and wheels in this wheel size.

The Ritchey P-650b’s frame takes the successful P-series platform and adopts it to fit medium-sized wheels. This frame is set to retail for $1,100, and should be available in December. The wheels are based on Ritchey’s Vantage II wheels, which will have a proprietary tubeless-ready rim, weigh in at ~1,550 grams and will retail for about $800. The tires are the Z Max Shield, which were developed with the help of the powerful Scott-Swisspower mountain bike team. The tubeless ready, 2.1-inch tires are set to come in at 533 grams.

The Ritchey’s straight steerer uses internal bearings for a super-clean look.

Designed by the mustached legend, Tom Ritchey.

Staying up-to-date in the details, the Ritchey P-650b uses post-mount disc brake tabs.


FAT BIKE – a video to make you think about one …

Ride-Shot-Edit: Martín Campoy

Music: Josh Garrels

Shot with Lumix Fz 38 and Go Pro2.
Some Images: Patty Trespando.

A fat bike – what is that ….They are designed with adventure in mind, wide-tire frames with monster rubber are your ticket to backcountry bliss. Load ’em up, air ’em down, and ride ’em into the sunset.  The flotation and traction afforded by large-volume, low-pressure tires can get you over and through otherwise unrideable terrain…sand, mud, wet rocks and roots, ice, many kinds of snow and even naughty potholes …..

sean salach’s definition .. Fat Bike is a bicycle created for cycling on soft, unstable surfaces. They are used primarily on sand, snow, gravel and bogs, but can be and often are used just about anywhere a mountain bike or road bike can go. They are built around much wider tires than a mountain bike, which can be run at very low pressures to increase the size of the tire’s contact patch. This gives the bikes increased stability on loose surfaces, and lessens the likelihood of the wheels sinking into softer or more fragile surfaces. The current standard tires are marked as 3.7″ or greater in width, though the actual measured width will vary from 3.5″ – 4″+ depending upon the rim used. Rims are available for these tires in widths up to 100mm, which is 4 times the width of a standard mountain bike rim. 

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?



Lock 7 Bike Cafe London

What is the ideal place to while away your time?

A shop that sells great coffee and snacks combined with a bike shop where you can buy things, get spares as well as having your bike serviced or checked. Now in the UK there have been places that have registered on my radar for a while. One of my favourites is muddock cafe in Bristol – more of a restaurant and a bling bike shop downstairs. Although easily accessed by the stairwell they are separate. The restaurant has got the odd frame hoisted in the rafters so the bike theme is continued.

But on the recent trip to london I made the pilgrimage to lock7 cafe and bike shop which is just down the road from Broadway Market. The Market itself is lovely – coned off on the weekend we were there with stalls selling fantastic food as well as the odd clothes,crepes and sausage stall.

full rack

The bike shop itself is situated a 100m or so further down the road and is graced with plenty of bike racks outside, although when we visited every rack was double booked either with repairs waiting for collection or visitors who were enjoying the area.

italian twins

There was a lovely Cinelli bike on the first rack, that I was ogling but it was removed and ridden away by a feisty looking female fixie before I could have a second ogle and take some more pics.

Entering the shop the shop reception is right in front of you where they can either book in your bike for a service or take your order for a flat White or both ….
They have a decent range of goods on sale from inner tubes to brook saddles although they are not really a bike shop in that they don’t sell complete bikes themselves.

I bought my coffee – looked at a t-shirt I should have bought and bought a spare inner tube for the brompton and another one for the 700c wheeled pinarello.

They had some whacky frames on the wall that complemented the theme of the shop …

Not sure if they were sculpture or a frame that could actually be ridden but interesting shapes and put me in mind of those of the Mad Max bikes that I have written about in the past.

This area of London – the precious east is an area that seems to have embraced cycling the most with the most interesting facilities, shops and cafes – I hope it continues to grow and prosper.

Dream Bike by the name of Bruno

The brand Bruno has its roots in Switzerland but is now very much a Japanese operation. Bruno bikes are styled perfectly & combined with great parts and good frames. They also ride like a dream!

The 700c City Tourer is suited for long rides, commutes & as a town bike. It is also perfectly suited for carrying loads. Front & rear racks can easily be mounted.

– Shimano group
Cork Tape
– Tan Tyres
– Easy to mount front & rear rack
– Shimano group
– Classic quill stem & bell

– 700c Wheels
– Cross brakes & road style levers
– 8 Speed
– Reynolds 520 tubing

Bruno Bike Website

Geax Gato 29er tread (or 26)


The Gato was designed for maximum grip and control in wet and loose conditions. The larger volume version features the same aggressive tread pattern, but with size specific, tall, widely spaced, siped knobs that ensure excellent shedding characteristics and increased traction through a range of elements. Reinforcements at the base of the central ridge reduce rolling resistance while similar reinforcements on the side knobs ensures knob stiffness and penetration when cornering.

The new Gato, despite its infancy, is a sure choice for adverse All Mountain applications.

No tubeless version in 29er yet though

TNT AM Casing – 680g 

Double Compound

XC Casing – 610g
Double Compound
XC Casing – 790g
Double Compound
TNT AM Casing – 790g
Aramid Racing 3D   Comp.
XC Casing – 690g
Aramid Racing 3D Comp.
XC Casing – 850g
Aramid Racing 3D Comp.

Selkirk 100

Just back from 6 weeks work in the Middle East and with the Xizang sitting at home in the cupboard I thought it was time to put it through it’s paces.

the route via Garmin

Had entered the Selkirk 100 (well actually 75km) and although training was virtually non existent – unless of course sitting on a gym bike counts as real training – I was up for it. I had ordered some UST tubeless tyres for the race and a new Rock Shox SID team 2007 fork …. tyre sent was the wrong one and the Fork was at my friend’s house. A little moan as he was supposed to race but had decided to bail out and had gone to see girlfriend in Birmingham leaving my fork locked in his flat. Oh crap.

Still went along ready for the 19 degree C and sunny weather that the forecast had predicted … instead rain and mud. So tyre choice crap Kenda Karma2.0 (nice tyre in any not wet conditions pretty fast rolling and good grip) back (tubed) and UST Schwalbe Skinny Jimmy 1.9 on the front. Forks still 10 year old SIDs which may have blown seal as they barely compress. Wearing in the Rohloff Speedhub hasn’t even started – it is supposed to take 1000 miles – so a race is not the most sensible way to start.
During the race the gear chang
es on the Rohloffseemed to get stiffer and stiffer – thought at first it was sore wrists after all the falls but something definitely wrong. Only twigged a few days later that the cut off bar grip had slipped and was so tight against the twist shift that the friction was making changes difficult. Now aware of it it is easy to avoid

So blame the equipment but it was me at fault … not fit enough and due to weather / practice / equipment I must have fallen off or gone over the bars at least 12 times in the race.

The bars on my saddle are bent now –

too many crashes or just shoddy construction. After 5h 42m with a terrible ave speed I came in 64th.

Retirement even before I felt competitive.

Still a few changes since then. Put on a 90cm stem and the new Sid forks and the bike is feeling great again….

who knows I might actually get some miles in soon.

new fork and stem