Posted by: audaxing | June 4, 2017

New Pedals

I’ve not bought any new pedals for at least two years. Swapping the worn out bits and spares has reached the end of the road. So time for new ones. The Shimano XT M8000 XC Race Pedals look like they are slightly better than the old M540 so I thought I’d give them a whirl. Rode them 100km back from work on Friday night, they were fine

Posted by: audaxing | April 23, 2017

Tri bar setup

I’m looking at using tri bars for London Edinburgh London

I have previously used tri bars on a Ti bike I used to have. When I looked at this old bike and also the bikes used on the TCR and other long distance races I saw that bars that hook up at the end are preferred.

So on the new bar setup I’ve used “3T Comfort Bend Bar Extensions – Pro”. I put neoprene tape on the ends where my hands will go before applying bar tape – that’s why they look “bulging”

I don’t use the arm rests or the cups on tribars. I use pipe lagging on the handlebars. The arm supports use up too much space

Posted by: audaxing | March 31, 2017

Mike Hall – Legend

I just heard the very shocking news that Mike Hall has died while doing a long distance race in Australia

I followed Mike on Twitter for years and met him and talked on the Brevet Cymru one time.  He was the guest speaker at the last Audax UK reunion

He wasn’t a close friend or anything but he was approachable, remarkable and, for such an extraordinary man, very ordinary

He held the record for the “Tour Divide”, which is possibly the world’s most difficult bike race.  At one point he held the round the world by bike speed record.  He won lots of other races too

Probably his greatest achievement wasn’t winning a race though.  It was setting up the “Transcontinental” race across Europe.  This race starts in Northern Europe (London or Belgium) and then goes to Turkey.  As someone that had done a lot of that type of riding he was the perfect person to understand how to do this kind of race.  The Transcontinental has become a classic in the world of European cycling

We will miss you Mike

Posted by: audaxing | March 26, 2017

Bike Fettling

I replaced the left hand shifter cable on the Genesis as it was proving difficult to adjust the front changer.  I did the outer and inners so I had to strip the bar tape off.  While I was doing this I decided to put some neoprene padding tape underneath the handlebar tape.

The neoprene tape is made for motorbikes and is cheaply available on ebay.  It works great!

Posted by: audaxing | March 22, 2017

220km at the weekend

Posted by: audaxing | December 24, 2016

what’s so great about tubeless tyres?

Just got this email

Hi Jamie
It was good to meet up with you at the recent AUK reunion – its always
good to put a face to the name.

I was wondering if you could give me some advice about going tubeless.
After another winter puncture on my Langport – Taunton commute I’m
seriously thinking about switching to tubeless tyres but I notice on
the YACF forum and your blog that your experiences haven’t all been
straightforward and trouble free. My main question is am I better
replacing my existing rims for tubeless compatible?

I currently have an exal xr-2 32 hole front wheel with an SP hub
dynamo and a Mavic Open Elite on the rear. Getting rid of the exal
wouldn’t be a major problem as it’s a pig for getting tyres on and

Any other advice re tyres/sealant etc would be gratefully received.

I hope you have a great Christmas and New Year with plenty of riding.

Cheers Len

I’ve been using tubeless now for a year on two bikes
People are asking me about them, are they good, what’s bad, how to set up?
There still is a lot of poor, contradictory info out there

What’s the problem?

Tubeless tyres are more comfortable and roll fast as they are more pliable
than clinchers.
Tubeless needs all kinds of special preparation for them to work correctly.
Coming from inner tubes + clinchers these rules are odd and difficult

Rim type

Tubeless tyres work on clincher rims. There are special rims for tubeless
but with the correct prep will work well on some old non-tubeless rims.
Tubeless rims have a different profile shape to old normal clincher rims.
In theory, any rim can be used. In practice with old, narrow, non-tubeless
specific rims have some risk of the tyre coming off during stress such
as cornering To use a non-specialist old style rim with tubeless, use a
“rim strip” to convert the shape of the channel in the rim.

Stan's Alpha and Son H Plus Archetype comparison.

Stan’s Alpha and Son H Plus Archetype comparison. Approximately to scale. Stan’s is true tubeless and Son isn’t


As the tyre is a single layer using sealant is more straight forward and
less messy. To install the sealant the easiest method seems to be to
remove the valve core and use a syringe to squirt it in. The weight of
the sealant is slightly less than the weight of an inner tube. It is
extremely effective against very small holes.
CO2 inflators are difficult to use.  If the icey temperatures hit the sealant then it doesn’t do it any good.  Probably best not to use them except for emergency fixes on the road

Bead jack

Putting the tyre on is not necessarily easy.

I know a lot of bike users complain about how difficult it is to put
on a normal tyre. But the super tight bead on a tubeless tyre puts in
in another league. With normal tyres I have usually got them on with
the shoe trick and a bit of gumption. With tubeless, a special tool,
the bead jack, is required. This is a lever which hooks onto the tyre
bead and the opposite rim.
Even initially clipping a single bead of the tyre over the edge of one rim lip
can be very difficult without the special tool
If the tyre has to be removed then this is almost as difficult. 3 steel
tyre levers and a screwdriver works for me. You can imagine the technique

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


The way that the tyre seals onto the rim so that the air does not escape
is very tight. To get the tyre into this state of tightness requires
more than just pumping up the tyre with a track pump. The method that
Stan’s No Tubes (market leader) recommend is

  • put tyre on ( this isn’t easy: see above )
  • spray soap solution into the gap between tyre and rim
  • apply a compressor, not a hand pump as the air supply

After this hopefully, there is a sudden clunk and the tyre will jump into a
good seated position. In practice, I initially used a CO2 inflator( this is a very bad idea, the CO2 destroys the sealant), tried to make a “ghetto compressor” but failed and then bought an “Airshot” which is like the “ghetto compressor” but made of metal, by engineers and not out of random junk

airshot compressor substitute

airshot compressor substitute

About the sealant

With the sealant in them the tyres are truly puncture resistant with
the following limitations

Small holes are sealed instantly and the problem is usually not even
noticed! This is truly fabulous. Sometimes a small hole seals but the tyre has
very much reduced pressure and the tyre needs pumping up.
Larger holes are more of a problem.  A “larger” hole
(bigger than 2mm) will spew out a lot of sealant.  Stop riding, rotate the
tyre so the hole is near the bottom, more sealant will flood out!
Quickly put your finger over the hole. With the added finger pressure
and the reduced air pressure in the tyre, hopefully the leak will stop.  Wait a few minutes for the sealant to set, then limp home with reduced pressure. Attempting to
re-inflate to the usual pressure might work for a moment or two but
usually the hole will reopen.

Sealant doesn’t last forever.   It very gradually dries out onto the tyre surface.  Also any “micro punctures” use a small amount.  So it needs topping up every 2-3 months

Fixing punctures

If the tyre does get a hole larger than the sealant can cope with, it
has to be sealed in some other way. There are a number of “external”
puncture kits which are supposed to be able to seal large holes without
removing the tyre. To cut a long story short, these kits do not work
with road tyres. Partly this is because the kits can’t cope with the
pressure of an inflated tyre and partly because they add a bump to the
outside on the smooth casing. To fix the puncture, remove the tyre and
install a patch on the inside. Usually, inner tube patches are fine but
there are tubeless specific internal patch kits available

Topping up the tyre pressure

Some people have reported that tubeless tyres lose pressure faster when the bike is just sitting in the garage.  I’ve experienced this, sometimes having to pump up again before every trip out.   However, there is a way to stop this.   In every case where I’ve had this happening, adding more sealant made it better.  I believe that most of my tubeless bikes need a little more pumping to top up the pressure before use but it’s not a big deal once the sealant is in.  Maybe I’d have to do them twice a week and the clincher bikes once every two weeks.  But if you are in a hurry the tubeless tyres ride ok with a much much lower pressure than is optimal

Non Standard rim/tyres compatibility

Some tyres are listed as not working on hookless rims.  Some do.  The width of rim that tyres will work with is much more restrictive than with clichers.  This is when using tubeless compatible rims with tubeless compatible tyres!

The terrible expense

Given that the advantages are not clear-cut, the additional cost of
tubeless is worth considering. The cost factors are

Tyre cost

Typically in the UK quality clinchers are a few pounds cheaper than
tubeless. Even with the extra cost of an inner tube, clinchers much
cheaper. Also, at the time of writing, tubeless tyres are rarely in the
bargain bin

Sealant cost

The Stan’s stuff (or the Schwalbe rebadge of it) is effective
but expensive. It needs to be used every 3 months.  It is possible to use diluted tractor tyre sealant if you want the super low-cost version!


Yet another fiddly specialist part that is overpriced

Rims and wheels

There is still a premium on these for tubeless

Extra tools

You will need a bead jack, a compressor or equivalent and optionally a syringe for sealant and a valve core remover

The MTB factor

When I describe the various problems I’ve had inevitably someone with
an all terrain bike says that they don’t have those problems and my
reservations with the tubeless system don’t fit in with their experiences.

MTB tubeless has some advantages over road bike tubeless

– MTB tubeless has been around longer. So there is a wider choice of
tyres and rims.

– MTB tubeless runs at lower pressure. The sealant works better and
MTB users actually want a super low pressure which only tubeless tyres
can achieve. OTOH Road bike users need a pressure of at least around
50 to 70 psi (3 to 5 bar) in order to get optimal rolling resistance

– MTB makers have standardized the wheel/tyre combinations to some extent

– External patch kits work. As the tyres are knobbly and work at a lower
pressure the problems with road tyres do not apply

Supposed advantages of tubeless that aren’t

lower weight

Tubeless tyres are usually heavier in construction than clinchers and
contain sealant. So overall the weight advantage is tiny. But it is real
and it’s a “rotating weight” advantage at the outer edge of the wheel.
It’s a small plus, not an amazing advantage

running lighter tyres in the winter

The idea goes: the sealant means that the tyre is immune to punctures.
Light tyres puncture in the winter but with the magic of tubeless
somehow punctures don’t matter.   Unfortunately (as discussed above) the bigger holes do not effectively seal.

You need fewer tools on the road

Again, this is mainly due to the supposed invulnerability of tubeless
to punctures. But if you really do have to fix a tubeless puncture on
the road you will need a bead jack and some way to reseat the tyre- good luck

tubeless tyres are “fit and forget”

Except for the topping up of sealant, more pumping up and the need for lots of specialist
tools and equipment

You asked…

Do I need to replace the rims to run tubeless? No. But you will need a rim strip.

You kinda implied that running tubeless will lead to less punctures and generally a more jolly time. It might, hopefully your bike can run tyres bigger than 28mm. If it can, this has the double advantage that more “winter suitable” tyres are available (Marathon Supreme,  Schwalbe G1 Speed, Hutchinson Sector, Vittoria Adventure) and that they can be run at lower pressures so the sealant works better. I’ve run Schwalbe S1 30mm, Specialized 2bliss 32mm, Schwalbe Marathon 50mm and Vittoria Adventure 38mm with good results

If you want an easier solution to the “no punctures” problem then Schwalbe Marathon Plus weigh too much, ride like lead and have no grip but can be ridden through broken glass with impunity.  These tyres aren’t tubeless!

update this article has quite a lot of good, further information in it

Posted by: audaxing | September 25, 2016

When tyres are too wide

I was running my Ridley with so-called 25mm Hutchinson Intensive tubeless tyres on 23mm (H Son Archetype) rims.

These measured less than 25mm across and easily fitted in the tight mudguards on the Ridley

When the front tyre gained a huge hole I switched the front to a 25mm Michelin Pro Race. Oddly however the mudguard did not fit. I removed the front mudguard It was only later when I measured the actual width of the Michellin on the H Son rim that I realised it was coming out as 28mm!

Recently I got some Schwalbe Pro One 23mm tubeless tyres, I fitted these and



measured the width, it came out as over 25mm

So don’t believe the hype

Posted by: audaxing | August 24, 2016

I’m a Ultra Randonneur: that is all

See fourth line down in red, because I just got it this year

I might even buy a badge 🙂

Posted by: audaxing | August 22, 2016

Taking the S-Ones for a ride

After months of waiting, I finally fitted some Schwalbe S-One 30mm tubeless. There’s not a lot to say about fitting them. I used BOR 20.9mm tubeless tape in a double layer. The tyre took only a little pursuasion with the bead jack getting the initial bead on and then at the last bit. One pumped up straight with a track pump and the other needed CO2

S-One fitted

S-One fitted

S-One fitted

S-One fitted

Halfway up Culm Davey

Halfway up Culm Davey

Only been for one ride. I had the tyres at 80psi/5.5 bar. They seemed more comfortable than the previous 30mm Strada Bianca at 90 psi. Speedwise, it’s difficult to say but I did get a PB on a hill. Grip seemed good, I had to jump a pothole sideways on a wet road while already cornering quite fast and there was no sliding at all

Posted by: audaxing | July 31, 2016

Gravel vs. Cobbles: two bikes for long distance

I’ve had a Specialized Roubaix since 2010, done a number of nice long rides on it including PBP 2011 and 5 SR series. The Genesis Datum is a new arrival, had it about 6 weeks, I’ve just ridden one K&SW 600 and 300km in the North of England on it. But this is enough to do a fairly superficial comparison. Both bikes as I use them are pretty much stock except they have custom wheels and Brooks B17. Both have Schmidt SON generator hubs and B&M lights. Both have mudguards. The Roubaix is a 30-40-50 x 12-30 triple and the Datum is a 50-34 x 32-11

Genesis Datum just after k&sw 600

Genesis Datum just after k&sw 600

Roubaix with 28mm Ultremo ZX fitted

Roubaix with 28mm Ultremo ZX fitted

Handling cornering etc

When I first rode the Roubaix I thought “this handles like a boat. It’s the one for me” It’s super stable rather than responsive. The Datum is not a super responsive bike but compared to the Roubaix it is. I could probably push the Datum tighter around corners but I just don’t have that style of riding. The bigger tyres on the Datum make handling more confident on bad surfaces


In terms of what is the faster bike, probably the Roubaix feels slightly faster as it is a slightly lower riding position. But there is not much in it. The greater tyre width doesn’t make much difference.

Power transmission

As the frame on the Datum is stiffer, the power transmission on it feels better. If I ride the two bikes back to back the Roubaix almost feels bendy


The Roubaix is very comfortable. The frame has various features to make it flex over poor surfaces. Considering it will only take 25mm with ‘guards it’s remarkable how good it is on rough roads. Of course the Datum has room for much bigger tyres, I am running it with 30mm Strada Bianca. The higher air volume makes up for the stiffer frame. The Specialized stock build also includes a carbon post and “phat” bar tape aimed at better levels of comfort

Pothole hits

If either bike meets a pothole they both cope well. The Roubaix flexes and the Datum bounces but the net result is ok. The entire back end of the Roubaix flexes like rubber. The larger tyres on the Datum absorb a lot of the shock when this happens

Tyre sizes

The Roubaix will take 25mm with mudguards or 28mm without. I rode PBP 2011 on 28mm Schwalbe Ultremo, excellent tyres for that job. The Datum is supplied with 33mm tyres, I currently have 30mm on it. It would probably take a big 35mm tyre without mudguards


Roubaix is 10.6Kg and the Datum is 10.5Kg. This is surprising, the larger tyres on the Datum + the disks make it look like this would be heavier but it’s a tie


When climbing the lighter rotating weight of the Roubaix wheels works in it’s favour. But the stiffer frame on the Datum works better. So I’d say on balance the Datum is slightly better

Climbing a hill in the Lake District

Genesis Datum Climbing a hill in the Lake District


On descents, the Roubaix is super stable. If there is a long straight section tuck in and enjoy. The Datum is not as stable. If the speed goes above 60kph you must grip the top tube between your legs to avoid vibrations or speed wobble. If there are corners on the descent both bikes are good but the Datum’s disk brakes and wider tyres give it a definite advantage

Off road

For those gravel path sections or bits of mislabeled Sustrans “cycle routes” that are actually mud the Datum is the clear winner. You can usually ride any bike on almost any surface but slightly wider tyres give better grip

Fitting luggage and guards

The Datum’s great clearance and proper mudguard eyelets give it the mudguard advantage here. It has full length SKS Longboards with the 30mm tyres. The Roubaix will only just take a Crud Road Race guard which attaches with rubber bands. Crud Road Race are good guards but they are not as durable as an SKS guard. The super tight clearance also increases wear, I am lucky to get 1500km out of a set. Neither bike is particularly great for luggage. I’ve experimented with Carradice bags using SQR or the bagman supports and also attaching dry bags. Both bikes have a Ortlieb Ultimate 5 klick mount on the front – front barbags aren’t to everyones liking but they suit me.

Stopping for Supplies

Genesis Datum Stopping for Supplies

So which is best?

Both bikes have their own strengths. Generally the comfort level of the Roubaix is better but the Genesis is faster. The Genesis disk brakes and larger tyres are nice to have, as is the concealed cable routing. The stability of the Roubaix gives it a feel of a real long distance bike. I will be using both and favouring the Genesis, simply because it is newer.

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