Wednesday, March 9, 2016


March is the long, dark tea time of the soul for Ohio mountain bikers. The trails have lost the good freeze of winter, but haven't dried out yet. Spring rains and the freeze/thaw cycle make our trails a peanut buttery mess until April, if we're lucky; May, if we're not.

So, time to hit the road. Eager to ride my new Jones, I jumped on a pair of super fat Schwalbe slicks that came across one of my bike lists. I mounted up the Big Ones and was ready to roll:

My first impression was all good, but that quickly changed.
In my hand, the tires had the flexy, supple feeling that promises good times ahead. And when I first jumped on my Jones for a test ride up and down the block, it really felt like the bike was flying. In a straight line, the tires were smooth, fast, and comfortable. However, as soon as I leaned the bike over, the handling of the Jones seemed to fall apart. The steering got much heavier, and where I could previously smoothly arc through a corner, now the front wheel weaved around as it tried to hold the line. It's like going from analog to digital cornering.

This is odd, because with the big knobbies I had on there previously, the Jones felt smooth and neutral through the corners. My first theory is that the front tire, even at 2.3", is too narrow for my 45mm wide rim. I think this because the rear wheel, on a 35mm rim, feels fine. Of course, the rear wheel doesn't steer, either. But if the rim is too wide, it may "square up" the profile of the tire, and the cornering behavior does bring to mind riding on the corner of that square.

My second theory involves trail and wheel flop, but I need to read up more on bike handling, and perhaps try the Big Ones on narrow rims on my KM to compare.

Aside from the handling quirks, I'm still enjoying the Jones. It's comfortable and surprisingly responsive. I look at that fat top tube (31.8mm? I haven't bothered to measure it), and can't understand how it can feel so lively. But it does. I also like that Jeff Jones understands that tall riders need a tall head tube:

Thank you, Jeff, for understanding how to balance bar height vs. spacers vs. standover.

My other bike handling experience from the weekend involved the New Albion Privateer. When I said I was going to the library, Henry asked to come along, even when I said I would be riding. Sadly, that's rare for him these days (both going to the library and riding there). He didn't want to ride his bike the whole way, so I mounted up the trail-a-bike and we hit the road. Since I have't bothered to fit the Burley Picolo yet, I used the Giant:

I had to raise the seat almost to the max, and eventually I rotated the bars forward as well, but finally, Henry is just about too big for the trail-a-bike. It turns out that the combination of a strong, 80 pound kid, a low trail front end, and a seat post mounted rear weight is not a happy combination. I was wandering down the trail like a drunken sailor. In the end, we made it to the library, then Henry talked me into heading over to Jeni's. Even when it's 40 degrees out, ice cream is still good:

Of course, we had to stop at the Toy Barn on the way home. They had a Camaro that, if you don't look too close, looks like my first car:

Except mine wasn't a Z28 and featured much more Bondo. But it was black with white.

We each picked our favorite car. Henry went with a Lambo:

while I chose the Ford GT in the Gulf livery:

Alas, I had spent my spare change at Jeni's, so we had to take our wandering bike back home instead.


  1. I'm looking at getting a Jones Plus. I've long run 2.3" Big Apples on my Gen 1 Salsa Fargo and other frames, usually on rims on the far other end of the spectrum...perhaps 17mm internal, happily. I think Jeff would steer me to a wider rim than say, Velocity Blunt 35mm, but I think even a 3.0 tire would work. Mike See has argued that plus tires don't need wider than 35mm rims.

    1. I've used a Blunt 35mm rim with my 3" tires with good results, but Jeff really pushed the wider rim when I was ordering a front wheel to go with my Jones, so I opted for the 45mm Scraper. Now, I kind of wish I'd stuck to my know how and just gotten another Blunt--I haven't seen any real benefit to the wide rim, beyond making the tire a touch wider, and it doesn't seem to work well with narrower tires.

  2. Just FYI, the new Stans Flow MK3 would be a good match. 29mm internal width, 520g. That's what I'm going with on the front of my Jones.

    1. Water under the bridge now. But if I ever build up a another set (road use?), it would be something like that.


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