Svelte Cycles without comproise

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Michelin Pro3 Race Service Course Tires. Michelin Laytex Tubes.

Engineered by Michelin to combine the very low rolling resistance of the "Pro 2 Race" and the incredible tack and rain capabilities of the "Pro Grip", the "Pro 3 Race Service Course" does not disappoint. I have been racing on the Pro 3's all year and though I was at first reluctant on their claimed ability to roll faster (used the Pro2's in TT's) and grip better (used the Grips in techy crits and rain days) than anything produced before them, eventually I came to realize these tires aren't just a bunch of hype... they actually increase performance and ride quality. Pair the Pro 3's with a nice set of Laytex Tubes and you get a springy, grippy almost (ALMOST) tubular quality "pingy" ride. Though I never flatted the Zipp Tangente Tubular's while training on them daily this summer, I must admit this morning it was relieving to set out on a little spin without having to lug around a spare tire taped to my seatpost and a lingering fear of being one shard of glass away from shelling out $80.

The only other clincher tire I have ridden extensively that even comes close in terms of all around ride quality have been the Vittoria EVO CX's... these are bad ass as well, but in extreme situations like say a 40K TT or a 10 corner crit in the pouring rain, you want to go with the Michelin's... they are simply a better performing tire.

I got many miles out of my Vittoria's and wore the tread on the rear tire flat, but I would give the nod to the Michelin's in terms of overall performance... the Vittoria's do look very nice though!
Laytex tubes give you a more supple and vivrant ride. In my opinion the rumors that they puncture more easily than butyl tubes are rubbish. The only downfall moderately worth mentioning is that laytex tubes will lose more air overnight than a butyl tube. Big deal!
Here is a shot of the Michelin Laytex tube that I was running with the Vittoria's. The black marks are from the inner casing on the Vittoria tire as the tube adhered itself to the tire's casing for lack of talc powder. It is VERY important you talk your tubes before installation. Why? A talc'd tube will flat less (can wiggle inside the tire) and will sit in the casing of the tire better(think ear deafening explosion of tube after pumping up to max pressure for the first time becuase the tube was pinched out of the bead against the rim).
Don't forget to remove the little straw that sits over the valve. i.e. "Why won't this dang valve through the rim?!"
Pretty cool stripes if you ask me. Seafoam Green not your thing? No big deal... the Pro3's come in other colours to best suit your vanity needs.

Contrary to clincher tire mounting tradition, you mount the tire towards the valve core, not away from it. This is especially important if you are mounting the Pro3's on a carbon rim.
A thin coat of wax-like substance will be on your new Pro3's. If you plan on pushing them hard from the blocks, take a razor and scrape the substance off with a razor blade. *note: i am not scraping in the above picture, just showing you the residue that comes off the tire. scrape with the blade away from the direction it is moving... think "sweeping the floor".
Happy bike ready to go! Hey! Who stole my watter bottles?!

Click to purchase the Michelin Pro3 Race's and Michelin Laytex Tubes.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Zero Gravity NegG Ti. Installation and Ride Report.

Here they are pre-installation. Included are some nice, easy to follow instructions which I never read but will share with you now the details just for kicks.
You need: 5,4,3mm allens, a 13mm crescent and a nice set of cable cutters. That and a clue. (step 1a) If you are unsure of what you are doing, support your LBS and just pay the tech $20-$40 bucks for the install. You will be happy you did.

1. Install the caliper.
2. Adjust the pad so it sits flush and straight with the rim. 3. Back out the barrel adjusters a tad so you can dial in on the fly if need be.
4. Cut the housing to proper length and afix the cable behind the bolt and washer appropriately.
5. Tighten cable to 60-70 in/lbs. Cut to length. Install cable end.
6. Center the caliper with a 13mm cone wrench. Careful not to scratch the caliper!
7. Adjust the throw of the caliper as need be with the barrel adjuster. 8. Make final pad adjustment and torque to 25in/lbs.Using your hand to hold the pad in place, torque the pad to 70-80in/lbs. Done!This just might be the nicest training bike I've had in all my years as a Pro.
Unconventional looking but not obnoxious like the M5's (not that there is anything wrong with that).Brake Housing flows down nicely. A quick glance at the side profile would make you think these are the OG Ti's. Here is the rear caliper as it sits on my Lemond frame. Rear Housing flows nicely into the barrel adjuster as well. Meaty and complex looking on this side...
...yet so clean and simple on this side.

All in all the installation was a snap. I've installed many pair of the OG's mind you but these were really no different and rumors of the set-up being difficult are rubish. If you find the installation difficult revert to step 1a. as described above.

Ride Report:
Not much to say actually... These are rock solid! They felt exactly like the SRAM Rival's I was running. Nice modulation but could lock up the wheel when under 10mph (or any speed for that matter) in a snap. Smooth action (partly due to new cables and housing). Strong, positive feeling retraction (oxymoron?). Very clean looks especially when paired with the paint scheme on this frame. Excellent brake pads... these actually felt a little stickier than the Bontrager Cork's I was running prior... the rim did less "sliding" and more "slowing" when braking at speed. Not to say the Bontrager's are anything but awesome, the SwissStops simply have a different feel. Perhaps this will dissipate over time? The calipers did not come out of center as the housing was cut to the proper length. Many ZG users complained of the OG's coming out of center all to often but this was a cable housing length issue not a caliper issue.

One ride was all it took for me to be convinced these are more powerful than the OG's. I have yet to ride in the rain with them but this is really a non-issue now folks. Unless you weight 300lbs and spray Tri-Flow all over your rims, any high quality carbon fiber rim paired with any high quality carbon specific pad is going to perform in ALL conditions, ALL the time! Forget about it!!!

Click to purchase the Zero Gravity NegG Ti's.