Posted by: audaxing | October 28, 2015

Going Tubeless Not Made Easy

Tubeless tyres are the latest innovation in the endless fight of the cyclist against punctures.

When the wheels on my second best training, commuting and pub visiting bike looked like they needed replacement I decided to take the opportunity to build up some wheels suitable for tubeless

Getting all the bits and pieces involved was quite a job. I got parts from Star bike in Germany,, Spa Cycles in Harrogate, AllTricks in France and High on Bikes of Southport

I got all of the bits delivered to work which lead to my first problem, getting the rims back home

getting the new rims back from Bristol

getting the new rims back from Bristol

The rims are Son H Plus Archetypes These rims have a good reputation for being strong, they are only moderately expensive and quite pretty. The only downside I can see now they are on the bike is that the braking surface is andonised and doesn’t seem as effective at brake gripping as a machined surface.

For the rear I bought a new Ultegra Hub. The old 105 hub has a few miles left in in but has seen better days.

New rear wheel, laced up

New rear wheel, laced up

Once the rear was built I was having a go at fitting the tubeless tyres. The system is quite different to the tyres I’ve used before. There is no inner tube just a tight fitting outer tyre, air tight tape and sealant

Bottle of Isoproyl

Bottle of Isoproyl

The tape goes across the top of the holes for the spoke attachments. To clean the inside of the rim to ensure good adhesion Isoproyl alcohol is used.

New tyre and conversion kit

New tyre and conversion kit

The tyres I was using were Hutchinson Intensive and the tape and sealant is a kit made by Stan’s Tubeless. Both of these are market leaders in tubeless. There isn’t so much choice in tubeless tyres as in clinchers but the Hutchinson Intensive seem the best choice for winter riding and lots of miles. When they are fitted they are actually narrower than 25mm. Even on the wide 23mm rims they measure 24mm.

Fitting the tyre

Fitting the tyre

Fitting the tyre is not easy, as the super strong bead to prevent air leaking is difficult to slip over the rim

Bead Jack Instructions

Bead Jack Instructions

I got a special tool to assist with this tyre fitting ,challenge, a Kool Stop “Tyre Mate” which is a type of “bead jack”

Using the Kool Stop Tyre Mate bead jack on the last bit of tyre

Using the Kool Stop Tyre Mate bead jack on the last bit of tyre

Using the soap spray

Using the soap spray

After the tyre is fully mounted the next difficulty is to inflate it. Normally with clinchers the inflating step is easy with a track pump. However, with tubeless it’s necessary to spray the tyre with soap solution so that the bead can slip into position easier and to use either a compressor or a CO2 cartridge to suddenly supply a massive amount of pressure to pop the tyre into place.
Before doing this it is necessary to remove the valve core and to add some sealant, which is a latex based rubber solution. On the rear wheel this was easy, I used the official Stan’s injector.

Complete rear wheel

Complete rear wheel

pulling the old front wheel apart

pulling the old front wheel apart

I am reusing the front hub. It is a Shimano generator hub and in good condition.
After I’d built the front wheel, it was time to fit another tubeless tyre. This time inserting the sealant was not as straight forward. The valve core appeared to clog with the sealant, the injector sprayed it all over the wheel building stand and eventually I had to remove part of the tyre to get the sealant in

At this point I have two new wheels with tubeless rim tape and tubeless tyres installed. Both wheels also have sealant in them.

I was aiming to get the 25mm tyres inflated to a modest 90 psi (6 bar). They were not initially too successful at holding this pressure. Overnight the pressure would drop to 40 psi. However, I did use them for a couple of short trips.

The finished wheels on the bike

The finished wheels on the bike

So I tried to address the problem of getting the tyres to hold a workable pressure. The tyres are rated at over 100 psi but are only managing to hold less than half of that pressure

I tried adding some more sealant to the rear tyre. It had approximately double the recommended amount in it. This did not work but when the tyres were pumped up to over 90 psi, sealant could be seen leaking from the nipples. This indicated that the tape covering the holes inside was not working correctly. Fortunately I had a spare reel of wide (21mm) tape. I’d bought this half thinking I might need to add more. But not having done this before….Anyway, I added two more layers of the wider tape and it worked. Overnight the pressure holds at 80psi+. It’s a usable bike again.

Some people have suggested to me that it was a mistake not using a “tubeless specific” rim. But the Son HPlus Archetype is said to be “tubeless friendly”. It is a wide 23mm external width rim and as you can see from the picture a similar profile to the leading Stan’s rim.

Stan's Alpha and Son H Plus Archetype comparison.

Stan’s Alpha and Son H Plus Archetype comparison. Approximately to scale

I would guess that the Stan’s rim is easier to mount tubeless tyres on but once the tyre is mounted it’s the same

The only real problem I had was with the Stan’s conversion kit and the so called “universal” tape. This is only 12mm wide and I would guess it would work fine with some rims. Or if it was layered in a slightly different way. I did apply it to the wheels “by the book” ( or by the youtube video to be more exact!) I suppose there is no incentive for Stan’s to sell conversion kits with accurate advice on what to do with different rim types as they sell their own rims. If people believe that Stan’s Alpha Rims “work best” with tubeless then they will sell more of them.

My experience is, for Son H Plus Archetypes, don’t use the 12mm universal tape. Get some 21mm tape instead.

Other lessons learnt: I wish I’d built a compressor with a plastic 1 litre Coke bottle (google it if you are interested) as I used up most of my stock of CO2 cartridges

Look forward to using the nice new wheels on some long rides soon!

Posted by: audaxing | October 27, 2015

Dartmoor Devil – with sun!

After a fairly cold start we were faced with the unusual experience of a warm, sunny and windless Dartmoor Devil 100km cycling event

On the Moors

Pepperdon Hill
Of course the route still goes up and down some difficult terrain. Pepperdon Hill was as impossible to ride up as usual. The combination of much debris of leaves, sticks and mud on the road combined with the 20% gradient makes it a long walk.

At the top of Peppdon Hill
But like so many of the hills today there was a great pay off at the top with amazing views which would normally be obscured by mist and murk at this time of year

Surly Karate Monkey
After the uphill comes the downhill and many of these were steep, potholed and covered in loose material. Because of this I elected to take the Karate Monkey with it’s disk brakes. I put 28mm Marathon Supremes on it to help it climb a bit better. The Alfine gearing gave me a range from 86 to 28 inches.

At the soup stop, Windon Down

At the soup stop, Windon Down

Posted by: audaxing | September 21, 2015

600km fail

It was my last chance to do a 600km this audax season but it didn’t work out
I needed a 600km ride to complete this years Super Randonnuer series before the end of September

I’d planned the ride to do the total of 600km in two days of 300km each
The first day was a more a difficult route and I would be sleeping in my own bed at home. This kind of backdoor 600 is easy to organise and doesn’t involve any travel or stays in hotels. Starting at 7:15am on Saturday would give me until 11:15pm on Sunday to finish. Day one was planned to get me back home before midnight. Then I’d get 5 hours sleep in a comfortable bed and day two was a quicker/easier 300km

But after the first day of 300km I failed to get out on the road again at 6am on day two

The route

The planned route for day one was Ian Hennessay’s Blackdown and Levels I made more use of the B3227 than the route sheet recommends but it’s pretty similar
route day one

What happened on the day

The weather early in the morning was cold and foggy. I put on lots of clothes and made good time to Lyme. The lanes were not too wet and the bigger roads at that time on a Saturday morning were not busy. I had a coffee in Lyme and continued north. The temperatures quickly climbed and by 10am it was around 20 degrees C. I had to remove all the clothes I’d had on first thing. I’d guessed this would happen and had put bigger bag than normal on the back of the bike

late morning in Dorset

As I got nearer to Clevedon, the traffic on the roads was much thicker than I like. But soon I was through the hotspot of the coast near the Bristol channel and out on the Somerset levels

On the Somerset Levels

The route went through Bridgwater and then some obscure villages before hitting the B3227, which is a good road all the way to South Molton. As the sun sank I felt myself slowing up a bit, with still 100km to do before bedtime. The twilight time was subtly beautiful with mist and cloud softening further the soft light.

I made a tactical error near Shillingford by following the route instructions for the perm instead of staying on the B3227. It was maybe 4km shorter but with more climbs and very much worse roads. By now it was quite dark. Doing this had an adverse affect on my psychology, although in hindsight it wouldn’t have taken much longer than sticking to the good road. I have no idea why I took this bad road, it was a moment of madness. Perhaps I was getting so tired I had started making poor judgements

I got home again from South Molton at 00:35, about an hour behind what I hoped but still with plenty of time to sleep

So what went wrong?

So what went wrong and why didn’t I start again the following morning on the easier day 2 to Marlborough and back? The three factors were

  • comfort
  • the opportunity to give up
  • missing some details of preparation.


I’d not ridden much for months, just a few rides of 40 miles or so lately.

On the ride my speed wasn’t good but I only finished about a hour later than I’d hoped for

But there is more than the heart, legs and lungs. On long rides comfort is surprisingly important

One weak point that quickly goes out of condition is the hardened arse that can withstand hours and hours of battering

After just the first planned day I was hurting in this delicate area

If I’d have done more long rides in the months before I might have toughened up

Sun Tzu

If Sun Tzu did audax he would critique my tactics. Just as he said

Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape…Officers and men alike will put forth their uttermost strength.

If I had had no option but to carry on, maybe I would have finished. As it was it was too easy to stay in my nice, warm bed.

Removing the option to stay in bed would have forced me out onto the road


If I’d have used Sudocrem or something similar on my sore backside it probably would have reduced the problem. But I omitted to do this. When the weather is going to be hot(it was) then this always helps. In terms of fitness it would have been better to do a 300km the weekend before. But I had to make do with a couple of 90km rides instead

Better preparation would have helped


There’s always next year…It’s just a bike ride

Posted by: audaxing | September 4, 2015



Posted by: audaxing | June 11, 2015

Avalon Photo round up

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Posted by: audaxing | June 3, 2015

Fettling chore

This set of mudguards took two hours to fit. They look kinda ok, will probably last at least a year and will keep the dirt off.

Posted by: audaxing | May 25, 2015

BCM twitter round up

No Bryan Chapman Memorial for me this year so I was following it on twitter

Posted by: audaxing | May 3, 2015

New Light

I’ve recently got a B&M Luxos U generator powered light. It was easy to fit as a replacement to my existing B&M Cyo. First impressions are that it is bright but seems to behave differently to the Cyo. The beam spread seems to alter with speed.

The beam has a long “throw” than the Cyo and is also wider

The boost button doesn’t seem to do much. I needed squeeze the rear light connector to make it fit tighter on the spade, it kept falling off. This was good in a way as it showed that the green light to indicate the rear light working was ok

I tried out the light on the recent Brevet Cymru 400km event. This was extremely wet with a lot of rain. The light had no problems with this. In real world use in heavy rain in pitch darkness in Wales the beam pattern worked well

Prior to the event I did try out the USB charging and it works on my iphone 4S as specified: once the red light is on the device will slowly charge as long as you are moving

Posted by: audaxing | April 13, 2015

Sunny Elenydd!

I had trouble getting to hall thanks to railway closures, so no photos from me: the phone battery was used up checking timetables


We were due good but windy weather for the day by the weather men. So perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised to roll off at 6am in moderately heavy rain. After the rain stopped the end of the first easy section was quite relaxing

I got to Shobdon and as usual there was a food queue so I decided not to stop. Filled my bottles, removed a layer or two and continued

Coffee+pie at Builth

By Builth Wells it was coffee time so I stopped at the Drovers tearooms. As I left the tearooms I saw another rider coming up the road. I knew the next bit would be into a headwind so I suggested we team up.

So I rode up the A483 to Beulah with Gordon. It would have been a bit nasty on my own I was glad someone to share a wheel with. The sun came out, it was loverly

Up the staircase

Off the main road and into the lanes. There was a new control at a village hall before the Devil’s Staircase ascent. Which I managed without putting a foot down, always a good sign I feel.
The mountain road was beautiful in the sunshine. Unusually pleasant for this time of year!

After the various climbs of the Tregaron mountain road there is an amazing descent towards Tregaron, then one small climb then it’s Tregaron and my favourite ever control, the bowls club

Loose bolt

After the bowls club the direction of the ride turns around so we were all hopeful to be getting a tail wind down the Elan Valley. But first there were some nasty little ascents to do. On one of them at a snails pace I could hear an odd noise coming out of the bike. Just a metalic “clink” but I couldn’t imagine what it was. I had to stop and have a look. I quickly worked out that the bolt on the Bagman support frame was very loose. Good job I happened to notice, I don’t carry a spare bolt in that size

High speed mountain road

The tailwind was all that could be hoped for. I did the whole mountain road in 90 minutes and arrived in Rhyader feeling a lot fresher than usual at this point.

Night section and finish

More coffee, add some more clothes then off again on the A44 also somewhat tailwind assisted. Gordon came past with a train so I hopped on the back. After turning off the flattish A44 onto the undulating A483 going north my climbing legs seemed to evapourate. I stuck with Gordon and co for a while but in the end they disappeared up a hill and I didn’t see them again until the end. Stuart and his Eliptigo also dropped me on a hill and again I didn’t see him again

Finally there were some horrible urban roundabouts then finished! I had 2 plates of stew, someone gave me a glass of wine and I got to sleep in the hall about midnight

That’s the 300km PBP qualifier done!

Posted by: audaxing | April 5, 2015

Valley of the Rocks revisited

13 hours of Hills

In summary: some fantastic views, some tough ascents, some sun, good company and an amazing big moon in the last few miles in the dark

Hopefully this bit of “practice” will put my legs in the mood for the Elenydd next weekend!

Time to start walking - the hill to Lynton

Time to start walking – the hill to Lynton

It was a long walk

It was a long walk

Sun comes out near Lee Abbey

Sun comes out near Lee Abbey

Picture of riders taking Pictures

Picture of riders taking Pictures

The Glamour of Audax

The Glamour of Audax

Big Moon

Big Moon

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