Sunday, August 21, 2016

Down on Jones Street

After a month of moving related activities, I had a free Sunday morning to head out mountain biking. Alas, Saturday night rains soaked the trails, so I hit the road on my Jones early Sunday morning for a library run:

My library loop has just about doubled, going from a quick ten mile jaunt to a decent 20 mile ride. I don't have the Jones set up for carrying stuff, so I had to sling my books in my messenger bag. I did have slicks on the Jones, another attempt to see how it works on the road:

I was trying a new tire on the front today. Previously, I wasn't at all happy with the cornering performance of the Schwalbe Big One on the wide front rim: Instead of smoothly arcing through corners, cornering felt very discontinuous, and the steering got very heavy as I leaned the bike over. This time, I installed a WTB Vulpine, a very lightly knobbed mountain bike tire:

The wide rim gave the tire a very squared off profile, like looking at a kid with a flat-top haircut:

It worked a little better than the rounder profiled Big One, but it still didn't have the natural feeling handling of the Jones with the bigger tires. As I leaned over more, the steering still felt digitally bumpy, not smoothly analog.

On the way to the library, the ride was also unexpectedly harsh for a long wheelbase bike with big tires. I still had them pumped up pretty had (30 psi?) from installing them and getting the bead to set. At the library, I let out some air out of both tires. That smoothed the ride some, but the heavy steering got worse.

In the final analysis, I don't really have a need or a want for tires this big on the road. I don't have any long stretches of gravel road around here to justify the big volume (as a former dual sport motorcycle owner, I know this too well). For road riding, I generally prefer something around 35-40mm for a good balance of comfort and road bike responsiveness... but I can't go that small on these wheels.

My other issue on this ride involved the Q factor on the Jones. I didn't like the wide stance on my previous fatbikes (Q factor of around 205mm). The Jones, with a Q of around 175mm, is certainly better than that, but still about 20mm wider than I can get with the Suntour XC Pro square taper cranks on my KM. The pedaling stance of the wider Q feels decidedly odd, and I'm worried it's not doing anything good for my knees.

Otherwise, the Jones makes an excellent around town bike. On open sections of my ride, I stretched out on the curve ahead of the brake reservoir, and on tighter multi use path, I sat up while holding on the grip section. That gave me good visibility and quick access to the strong, smooth hydro brakes.

I think my super fat road tire experiment is at end, for now. I put the 3" knobbies back on the Jones when I got home, and I'll end up putting the Big Ones on my For Sale post.

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