If I was going to go front rack mounted then this would be high on my list. Reckon there is a commute/pub bike I should be building that has this on.
If you ride bikes then sooner or later you are going to need something to re-inflate an inner tube or tubeless tyre.
Punctures are an inevitability and tyres can loose pressure with use or even when stood still and puncture free.
It’s a good idea to check your tyre pressures pre-ride where a track pump comes in handy (also check their general condition regularly). If you get a puncture out on the road/trail, or want to adjust the pressure in your tyres mid-ride then the track pump you left at the car/house isn’t going to do you any good.
Adding slime to inner tubes (if you are running them) can help mitigate punctures during your ride till you can deal with them (more often till you notice them). In the case of a tubeless setup then adding the recommended amount of tyre sealant will create a seal as required but also result in additional fluid remaining in the tyre. Should you get a (non-major and not a tear) puncture then the fluid should seal the puncture so you can continue your ride.
Preventative measures like these are great, but they don’t mean you can leave the repair kit, spare tube (yes even when running tubeless) and pump at home just yet.
You are going to need a pump at some point. CO<sup>2</sup> is an alternative and can rapidly inflate a tyre. Unless racing and carrying space is at a premium then I consider this a compliment to carrying a pump rather than a replacement.
Smaller isn’t always better
Pumps can be a faff though and there are lots of different options out there so which pump do you choose? The few I’ve owned all worked okay, they were small and easy to carry but required a heck of a lot of effort if I was unfortunate enough to need to call on them. This goes doubly for trying to inflate road/hybrid bike tyres.
Most of the pumps I’ve owned were also designed so that the body of the pump connects directly to the valve rather than by a screw in flexible hose. This not only makes it difficult to attach the pump to the valve but also makes pumping awkward and can result in damaging the valve while trying to inflate the tyre if care is not taken.
Thankfully there have only been a handful of instances over the years where I have needed a pump while out on a ride but when I have it has been a tiring and fairly frustrating experience.
One pump to rule them all
The Lezyne Micro a Floor Drive is not a small pump. It’s not going to sit well (or at all) in a rear jersey pocket. It comes with a plastic mount for attaching to bottle mounting points on your frame if you want to go that route.
This pump will most likely end up sitting in your backpack or pannier bag as it does mine. It’s going to get a little scratched in there as it moves about against your other gear and as you toss it from bag to bag depending on what and where you are riding that day.
When you do need to call on it then as you quickly and relatively easily re-inflate your tyres (or a riding buddies) you will be glad you had this pump with you and not a fiddly, small, takes-forever-and-a-day-to-reach-an-acceptable-pressure-pump with you.
The top handle is a little small and can be ever so slightly uncomfortable in sustained use such as when inflating to higher pressures. Leaving a cycling glove on when using the pump helps.
The chrome finish while shiny and lovely when new will get lightly scratched, firstly just from being in your bag, secondly (and most destructively) it will get the worst of it at and around the base when you use it in the field.
If you can accept that it’s a tool that can and will get used and abused then a few light scratches shouldn’t cause much concern.
Weighing in at 225g (claimed) for the High Volume version with gauge it’s not a light pump but it’s worth it if you have space in your pack. If you don’t ride with a backpack or pannier bag on then you can use the supplied bracket to carry the pump via a water-bottle mount but it’s kinda cumbersome.
If you want to save 20g then you can get the HV version which comes without the inline gauge. I went back and forth on whether or not to get the gauged version, eventually deciding I’d rather have something to roughly indicate pressure for peace of mind. While the gauge may or may not be accurate it’s certainly not that easy to read while pumping and still requires scrutiny when standing still. It gives a rough idea and thats good enough for me so I don’t obsess over it, so long as it can tell me I’m in the neighbourhood of the pressure I am looking for.
Version wise you can also pick between the HP (high pressure) or HV (high volume). The HP is better suited to road and hybrid tyres focusing on making it easier to reach the higher pressures such tyres need. The HV is geared towards deliver a greater volume of air at lower pressures. The gauge on the HV shows up to 120 though in practice for me I can get hybrid tyres up to around 80psi and after that it becomes hard work to achieve a higher pressure. Thats enough for me but bear that in mind based on what tyre pressures you commonly ride at. I brought mine mainly based on riding at MTB pressures.
Great Service from Chain Reaction Cycles
I ordered mine online at a great price and with quick delivery. The good service didn’t end there though.
A month after receiving it, I punctured the front tyre on my hybrid during my morning commute to work. Having not tested the pump since receiving it I changed the tube, refitted and smugly thought to myself that this beauty would make short work of re-inflating.
At this point I notice that when in use a large amount of air was escaping from the area around the inline pressure gauge.
With no visible damage to the area (or anywhere on the pump this beings it’s first use) this was a little disappointing. One email to Chain Reaction Cycles had it sorted and they quickly sent a replacement no questions asked and no need to return the faulty one.
Fantastic service, great pump.
After moving to a full-suspension bike, I spent some time researching mudguards for two main reasons. Firstly I’m not a big fan of the taste of mud thrown up by the front wheel and secondly I’d like to keep in the good-books of SWMBO by not producing too much muddy laundry from riding through British winters (and a lot of rainy summers).
I typically ride with front mudguard all year round and use a rear guard in autumn/winter which I then take off for Spring/Summer. On the hardtail I used the Crud Catcher Race set as I’d always used them, they are great guards.
Now I have a full-suspension bike a seat-post mounted guard wasn’t going to function as well as it will on a hardtail. The guard would need to be positioned so as to allow the rear tyre to move up under compression of the rear suspension, so it couldn’t be set too close. Add to that the use of a dropper post (which I should have upgraded to as I bought the bike knowing I would get one eventually) and the rear Crud Catcher wasn’t going to work well with that setup.
Created by brothers Bruce and Jamie Gardiner who hail from the West Midlands, the first (rear) Mudhugger was born out of wants and needs similar to mine and was first version launched in November 2012. The rear Mudhugger mounts to the swingarm keeping it close to the tyre, clear of the seatpost and out of the riders way when hovering off the back of the bike. The fixing kit includes zip ties and some frame protectors which help stop the guard rubbing against the paintwork (highly recommend using them).
Following the success of the rear guard the brothers then moved onto a front guard and versions to cover 29er’s.
I bought a standard front (there is a new longer front version that came out in recent months) and the 29er rear at the same time. There are optional extender pieces for both if you want/need(?) more coverage though I have found coverage to be excellent as is.
The guards come with extra zip ties and it’s useful to carry some of these in your pack with you when you go riding so you can replace any attachment zip ties if they break. I have only had one go in the rear so far.
Even after plenty of riding in rocky, bumpy terrain the guards have remained in place. Having recently removed the rear guard I am glad I used the protective frame tape otherwise vibration would have caused the guards to wear the paint on the swingarm.
Haven’t met anyone who has used these that has a bad thing to say about them and I highly recommend them.
You can buy them direct or ask at your LBS.
A lightweight thermal jacket has been on my list for awhile. Something suitable for both on a off bike to either wear continuously or to carry in a pack and wear during food/mechnical/scenery breaks.
After some research I shortened my list to the Alpkit Filoment or the Vulpine. I own a fair bit of Alpkit items already and I’m very satisfied with them so I tried the Alpkit first as it’s a fair bit cheaper than the Vulpine jacket. The Filoment is a down filled jacket with a slimmer fit which I didn’t like from the moment I put it on so I ended up returning it.
The vulpine website list their ultralight thermal jacket as:
A quick-drying, breathable, packable and water resistant lightweight thermal jacket for cold days.
The outer is weather resistant to rain and snow and the shoulders feature a harder wearing material to protect against wear from backpack straps which is a very useful and well considered feature.
Rather than down the jacket uses a synthetic fill called Primaloft Gold, while this means the jacket will not pack down as small as a down jacket (it still packs small), it will still perform (and not be ruined) if it gets wet through.
When worn the jacket feels light but not insubstantial and is a good length providing good articulation around the arms and shoulder without lifting up as your arms are raised. The neck provides good protection and the top of the zip features a snag/beard guard.
On the bike the jacket pools a little around the waist but does not hinder movement and the cut at the back is long enough to protect down to the saddle without getting in the way. The cuffs are made from soft, ribbed cotton and provide a very comfortable fit that stretches easily to fit over gloves and with the generous (though not over long) arm length, prevent the arms from fleeing your wrists when riding.
There are two hand pockets on the front which do pool around the waist when on the bike so I will stick with only storing a phone in them when riding. There is an internal chest pocket as well.
Vulpine describe the jacket as:
Perfect for touring or commuting in the wind, snow or drizzle. Suitable for fast paced riding in freezing temperatures. Suggested temperature range -2°C – 12°C.
So far I’d agree with that. Riding into/out of town on my commute, at around 3 degrees C on mistys mornings and evenings, the jacket kept me plenty warm. When I picked up the pace I did get hot and a bit sweaty around the armpits (no venting) and back (under a backpack) but not unsually nor terribly so.
The jacket will suit slower paced or colder weather rides and fits own nicely to carry in a pack for coffee/mechanical stops and I’m really happy with it.
Given the time of year, the first thing I purchased for my new Trek Fuel EX 8 (29er – 2014 model), were some tyres I felt would better suit the current seasonal conditions.
The Bontrager XR3 Expert tyres (tubeless ready) that come with the bike as stock look fine, but may be more suited to summer and autumn trail conditions. A quick internet search reveals some favourable feedback on them but confirms this.
Normally I would go for something from the Maxxis range having had good experiences with them in the past. New bike new tyre choice perhaps? With that in mind I researched other options and recalled having recently read a positive review (in Singletrackworld magazine by Benji Haworth) of the Bontrager XR4 Team Issue. Benji rated the tyre very highly as a good all-rounder, just what I was looking for for the front-end. Fit and forget.
The XR4 comes in a 2.3″ width (only) in the 29er model and is tubeless ready (TLR). All boxes ticked.
After a further quick search on the internet I decided to try the XR4 up front and use a mix of the XR3 and a more mud specific tyre on the back depending on the conditions.
Mud Tyres For Winter?
For more muddy conditions I’d just bought a Bontrager Mud-X 2.0 for my 26″ hardtail (before making an unplanned purchase of a 29er) and though I had not ridden with it on my LBS had sold me on using them in muddy conditions. Simple choice then, I decided to buy the 29er version of the Bontrager Mud-X (not in stock) over something like the Maxxis Beaver (in stock) that the shop also suggested.
After I picked up my new bike I gave it a quick ride and then decided to swap the front tyre to the XR4 before riding that weekend.
The rims are tubeless ready, as are the tyres fitted but the bike comes with inner tubes fitted as stock. No big deal, I’d just swap over the tyres and go tubeless at a later date.
I found the Bontrager tyres more difficult to seat than Maxxis tyres I’d use in the past. Getting the bead over the rim was more of a challenge and required the use of some sturdy Pedros Tyre Levers. With most Maxxis tyres I’ve used in the past I’ve been able to seat them by hand.
Get on there you Fecker!
Once the tyre was finally on I had trouble getting the tyre bead to seat correctly against the rim, at certain spots. A number of attempts and some frantic pumping later I still couldn’t get the tyre right at one spot. When mounting the tyre with no air in the tube (or just a little) the stiff rubber bead (for a folding tyre) continously caught in the deep centre well of the rim and despite inflating to higher pressures I could not easily get the rim to ‘pop’ into the correct position.
Given the awkwardness of mounting the tyres and getting them seated I quickly dreaded having to change a tube on the trail. Going tubeless would mitigate some of that risk (though not eliminate it) so I decided on going tubeless sooner rather than later. In the meantime the LBS helped get the tyre seated correctly, more great service from Leisure Lakes Bikes – thanks guys.
There was some confusion at my LBS on whether the rim tape (unseen by the shop) as stock on the Trek models (they are an authorised dealer and apparently sell a lot of them) were suitable to go tubeless at stock.
Though the rims and tyres come as ‘tubeless ready’ as stock, turns out you have to buy a set of rim strips and valves from Trek in order to actually run a tubeless setup. For the price of the bike you could argue that these should/could have come supplied, if not fitted, but regardless a little over £20 and almost a weeks wait I had the necessary kit.
Stans do a kit called Flow which they specifically state will work with these rims, but since Bontrager do something specific and they made the rim I decided I might as well go with that. Especially since I recall reading the Flow kit required using a drill to widen the inner valve hole on the rim (no thanks to voiding a warranty in the first week of owning a bike).
For any readers with Bontrager Duster 29er tubeless ready rims then the parts I ordered were as below (confirmed with Trek dealer by phone first).
- Rim strip #406892 (x2)
- Rim strip valve #250324 (x2)
Trek have produced a handy 5-part video guide which helps make fitting straight forward. I’ve converted the front tyre to tubeless following the videos. The tyre seated itself correctly (without a loud pop) at around 50 psi and I checked it was seated correctly all the way round before using the recommended amount of sealant (around 120ml for a 29er). I got the sealant into the tyre by removing the valve core as suggested in the videos, though I used a smaller syringe and the funnel from a hip flask. Not as ideal but it got the job done.
The tyre hasn’t lost any pressure yet so I’ll be testing it out this weekend.
I’m holding off doing the back tyre. Despite the weather the last few weekends haven’t been too muddy out on the trails so I might hold off on the mud tyre on the rear for now.