Knee Pad Suggestions, Tires for the Southwest & Do I Want a Singlespeed? - Pinkbike
Here at Pinkbike, we get inundated with all kinds of questions, ranging from the basic "Can I have stickers" to more in-depth, soul-searching types of queries like if you should pop the question or what to name your first child. Ask Pinkbike is an occasional column where we'll be hand-picking and answering questions that have been keeping readers up at night, although we'll likely steer clear of those last two and keep it more tech oriented.
Which Tires for Riding and Racing in the Southwest?
Question: @flaggnar asks in the Bikes, Parts, and Gear Forum: I was thinking about running a Maxxis Assegai front and Aggressor rear for enduro racing and general aggressive riding in the southwest US. I have Cushcore installed in the rear so I was thinking a lighter tire (over DHR II) might be nicer, and sometimes with the rear tires that have big knobs and big traction even when I want to break loose sometimes it feels like I can’t, so that’s another reason. The Assegai seems like great traction... not great rolling resistance but that’s why it’s on the front. Any thoughts / suggestions?
That's a reasonable setup, but if I was racing and riding in the Southwest I'd go with a Maxxis Minion DHF up front and a Griffin in the rear. I'd say the Assegai is overkill for the typical conditions in your part of the world – the DHF will be faster rolling, while still offering plenty of traction for those loose and sandy corners.
Speaking of sand, the Griffin is one of my favorite tires when things are extra-dry and blown out; I prefer it over the Aggressor. It's only available in a 2.3” width, but pair it with a 2.5” DHF and you'll have a great combo for drier conditions. You may also want to consider a semi-slick, something along the lines of a Minion SS if you're looking for help getting that rear wheel to break free.
Should I Get a Singlespeed?
Question: @bestseller2019 asks in the All-Mountain/Cross-Country Forum: I need to buy a second, inexpensive mountain bike. I was reading about the Gravity G29 FS. Can you climb mountains (Seattle area) in a bike without gears? I like the idea of simplicity, but not sure how practical that bike is when riding trails.
Singlespeeds were all the rage for a time in the early 2000s, and I spent my fair share of time riding on the one-speed train. I even did a 24 hour race (remember those?) solo on a singlespeed – my reasoning was that when my brain started to melt in the middle of the night I wouldn't need to remember how to shift. These days, my only singlespeeds are a dirt jumper and a town bike – my knees are much happier with my decicion to stop ditching the derailleur.
But back to your question – should you get a singlespeed? Yes. Why? Well, you say you already have a mountain bike, so I'm assuming you're looking for something a little different, a new challenge. A singlespeed will change your typical riding experience – you'll find yourself standing up and pedaling way, way more than you ever have, and you'll also start trying to figure out methods to maintain your speed when you're spun out. You might even need to walk once in a while, which is humbling, and something I try to avoid at all costs, but there are some steep hills outside of Seattle, and not everyone has legs like Robert Förstemann.
Singlespeeds may not be as popular as they once were, but in a time of 12-speed drivetrains, there's a certain appeal to the simplicity that comes with eliminating the cassette and derailleur altogether. I'd say go for it, although I'd be tempted to save up a little more cash to get a bike with a suspension fork - your wrists will thank you. You'll also probably need to spend some time experimenting with different gear ratios depending on just how steep your local trails are.
Comfortable Knee Pads?
Question: @congnargnar asks in the Bikes, Parts, and Gear Forum: Looking for a new set of kneepads now that my G-Forms are shot. Looking for something that's good and breathable for trail riding/uphill but burly enough for downhill. I like the look of the 7iDPs, but are there other pads that are more versatile?
POC's Joint VPD knee pads are the most comfortable knee pads that I've found when it comes to pedaling performance. At $150 USD they're not cheap, but they stay in place extremely well, don't cause any annoying chafing, and help keep hard slams from totally toasting your knees.
Those POC pads are a good pick for general trail riding, but if you're looking for something a little burlier, iXS' new Trigger knee pads might be the ticket. They offer extended coverage, including protection on the side of the knee. A set just arrived in for testing, and I've been able to get in a few rides with them so far. My only nitpick is that the upper cuff could be a little taller, but otherwise they're extremely comfortable, and provide a good deal of protection without being overly bulky.
Have some unresolved tech questions? Jump in the Pinkbike Forum and we'll look to answer it for next time.