Category Archives: 650b

Vittoria (was Geax) Goma & Barzo TNT tyres

Vittoria (Geax) Goma/Barzo TNT combination

Have to say 1st up, these are for sale in the Chasing Trails ebay shop. but I like to sell stuff that I use, or would use if I needed one of whatever thing it is.
So, I’ve been running a pair of 650b Vittoria tyres for about the last 8 weeks and I’ve been seriously impressed!

My preferred tyre setup these days combines a rear that’s fast rolling but still has enough climbing grip and a front that grips well in the corners without being too heavy or draggy. The 26er combo I was running was a Geax Saguaro rear & a Maxxis Minion 42a SPC 2.35″ front. The Saguaro was fast rolling & better climbing than it looked. The Minion – as Minions do – gripped supremely well in corners & despite being sticky rolled OK. Put a 42a on the back & it would be a different story however…

Vittoria Goma TNT 2.25Goma TNT 2.25

I was half expecting to be a little disappointed with the Goma based on how good the Minions have been over the years & initially it seemed to be a bit more sketchy in corners. I thought about removing it but it looked like it had some release compound on the tyre & once the dust got to it the grip appeared. It’s actually very similar to ride as a Minion. The feel as you push it a bit too hard is almost identical, if anything you get a bit more feedback, but the main thing is it allows you to respond before it washes out.
This is important as a super grippy tyre with no feel doesn’t inspire you to get anywhere near it’s limits. Once you’ve crashed because there’s been only a millisecond between the feeling of losing grip & hitting the floor you instinctively don’t want to go there again! So I always look for front tyres that combine as much grip as possible with good feel. I assumed the Goma would have slightly less grip being a 50a rather than 42a compound but I’ve not been able to tell. It should last longer though as the compound isn’t quite as soft.

The one I’m running is a 2.25″ but is slightly bigger than the Minion 2.35 – tyre sizes do seem to be plucked from the air..! It’s also the TNT version which is folding, has reinforced sidewalls & will run tubeless or tubed. I’ve found them slightly tighter than average to fit, although this will vary depending on the rim. They’re pretty easy to fit tubeless, it’s been on 2 rims so far & seated on both with a track pump. 1st rim got dented in a ‘banked over, end of bar meets woodwork’ scenario, but no damage to the tyre so suggests that the build is good.

It’s been ridden over fairly slippery off camber rocks and whilst few tyres grip in such conditions it hasn’t caused any problems in that the feel gives time to react. So all in all, these come recommended – by me at least! Ideal on aggressive XC to AM & Enduro.

Vittoria Barzo TNT 2.25Barzo TNT 2.25

Not as much to say about this one as a rear tyre for me doesn’t have to do as many different things. This one hasn’t spun out on a climb yet & it seems to roll very well. An improvement on the Saguaro is that it has more corner grip so it doesn’t drift as early. This helps get more out of the good grip on the front & increases cornering speed. I assume that if a rear tyre doesn’t draw attention to itself it’s doing a pretty good job!

Lastly, re tyre width, I tend to run the same front & rear, as if you go for different sizes it doesn’t work well to have a wider rear on a mountain bike, MX style, and for me a wider front means more speed than the rear copes with, so I tend to match them.

Hope this is some fairly straightforward, useful info!

Banshee Rune 650b upgrade 27.5″

Banshee Rune 26″ to 650b conversion

So, er, with a first impressions and a long term review for Banshee’s Rune a 3rd one could be seen as a bit excessive?!

However, this one will be short as it’s just to give an impression of the ride with 650b wheels compared to 26″.

‘Why make the change?’, you might ask. I’ve long been a supporter of 26″. You can make awesome 26ers. IMO the wheels are big enough & they allow lots of flexibility with geometry and especially with longer travel bikes the advantages of larger wheels are not so great. But it seems the industry is trying to kill it off and I decided to make an economically sound decision for once and sell the 26″ forks while they were in good condition & not yet considered totally obsolete! I’m not against other wheel sizes I just don’t get why we aren’t allowed as many good tyres in 26″ any more!

So, I sold the TALAS 36 160mm forks and replaced them with a set of 650b Rockshox Pikes. There will be a separate post on them, but in a word, great…

Banshee RuneAre there any differences? Apart from the forks performing better, the big positive with the swap over is that the bike is better balanced in the air. It was already good, now it’s extremely good! Handling wise on the ground very little has changed, it still corners, steers and soaks up trails as before. The 650b dropouts are only available in 142mm which is more or less standard & they are slotted for easier axle fitting. It wasn’t that hard before but it’s even easier now. If you’re really looking & you pay a lot of attention to components on, er, all bikes, you’ll notice there’s a 12mm QR instead of the standard bolted one. It’s RS Maxle standard, but not a Maxle. More about that in another post.

The only thing you could call a slight negative would go for any move to larger wheels on a frame with replaceable dropouts. Initially the bike is slightly less keen to manual as the rear axle is further back. I got used to this much more quickly than I expected to. (I did have a quick check to see if the wheels fitted with the 26″ dropouts but no!)

So although there’s not a huge amount to write, I’m pleased with the change. It’s always been a hugely fun bike to ride but it’s genuinely improved as a 650b I think. Also keep a look out for a tyre review of the Vittoria (Geax) Barzo & Goma tyres in the next few weeks/months as well as the One-Up 42 & 16 tooth sprockets & RAD cage.

Banshee Rune Quick Review

Banshee Rune First Impressions

Banshee RuneFollowing on from the wheel size post from, er, a bit too long back…
…the Banshee Rune can be run as a 26er or 650b (27.5er). This is good news IMO, if only because it allows a frame upgrade by swapping all the bits from your 26er whilst still giving a bit of future proofing or choice depending on how you see things. To change wheel size you just fit the relevant set of dropouts. The dropout height is also adjustable to give 3 different geometries. The one I rode was in it’s 650b guise. Many forks these days do 26 & 650b with the same fork, which is great for the indecisive!

I got the chance to ride one whilst helping take groups round Dalby’s demo route for EDS Bikes. The Rune is a 160mm travel frame & was set up with a Rockshox Pike fork & Cane Creek DB Air shock at the rear. The shock had the ‘climb’ switch on it, for …climbing, but I left it open all the time & it still climbed pretty well. In fact it climbed easily as well as any 125 – 150mm frame I’ve ridden.

If you’re like me, climbing well is good, but of no use whatsoever if the thing doesn’t descend!

Happy to say it went down one of the black descents faster than I’ve ever been & it seemed happier in the air than anything else I’ve ridden 🙂
This isn’t a substitute for actual jump technique! I’m happy on the jumps, but this frame inspired extra confidence.

The Pike fork was great, although the fork model is up to you. The Cane Creek air shock performed extremely well, the back end of the bike tracked the ground as you’d want it to, although part of that has to be down to the frame design as well.

Although a Canadian brand, Banshee are apparently designed by a Scottish chap. He actually lives in Scotland as well & so the bikes have mud clearance. Yey! Another nice touch is that the bearings are deliberately standard sizes meaning you can use any quality bearings that are the correct size.

When I look at a suspension frame, I tend to look at how a bump will work on the pivot points. On some frames a hit seems to impact a bearing more than rotate it & to my mind this will wear it out quicker. The Rune looks like the bearings won’t be stressed in this way & so I would guess they’d last well. The design seems to give a nice stiff frame laterally which helps keep you pointing where you want & other bits of good design include the stays being built from a kind of rectangular figure of eight cross section to add strength whilst keeping the weight down a bit.

Not sure what the weight was but it didn’t feel heavy to lift & rode a bit lighter than it felt as well.

I always feel I should be honest & say something bad if it needs saying, but in the 4 or so demo laps I did I couldn’t find anything negative! The funnest bike I’ve ridden in a long time & I want one..!

Apologies for the lack of pics, I was riding & my GoPro hasn’t arrived yet! But here’s some video of a Banshee rider trying to break his bike…

The great MTB wheel size debate

the past is the future...Which MTB wheel size? A brief summary of pros & cons…

I should say to start off that I don’t have any massively strong opinions on wheel size, but I prefer 26ers. #26aintdead and all that… main reason is they’re stiffer & stronger

So, here goes:

29er enthusiasts have long held that they roll faster. This is kinda true & importantly for MTBers, it’s only true off-road & not all the time. What they definitely don’t do is accelerate as fast as a smaller wheel, but you might be surprised to know that the smoother the surface the slower they roll compared to a smaller wheel. I know this because I’ve been on tarmac with a sticky 26er tyre, set off at the same speed as a similar weight 29er rider with a faster rubber compound tyre & still freewheeled down the hill faster. The mechanics behind this is the fact that on a smoother surface the bigger contact patch of a bigger wheel creates more drag. As the famous Mr Moulton has known for a long time, the fastest wheel on tarmac is a small one with a high pressure tyre on it. Why? Smaller contact patch = less drag. It’s also uncomfy, hence the suspension on his classic bikes

So when is a 29er faster? Once the bumps/rocks are big enough that the bigger wheel rolls over them smoothly when the smaller wheel is bouncing over them, the 29er will be quicker. When is a 26er faster? On the bits of trail where the give in the tyre is enough to keep the bike rolling straight the smaller wheel is quicker. Also, if weight is the same & wheels & tyres are the same models, a 26er is faster accelerating. This will be more noticeable if you have to overtake lots of people & if there’s lots of tight bends to accelerate out of. 29ers can also make drops feel smaller which can give a rider more confidence to go over it faster. This isn’t necessarily the bike being quicker, it may be that another rider on a 26 will be just as quick if their skill level is sorted

It’s obviously not totally straightforward and things like suspension quality play a part as well. On a route with medium size bumps a 29er will give a more noticeable advantage if the suspension on the compared 26er is poor

In my experience, over a ride different bikes are faster in some places & slower in others. In the end, if you want to prove that one size is best you have to pick a route that suits it!