Just Another Road!

Here is a little video we made in Mexico during our trip to the Paso de Cortés. Compass doesn’t have the means to air it during the Superbowl, but we think you’ll enjoy it nonetheless. Click on the image above or watch at this link. Make sure you watch it full-screen!

About Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

Spirited rides that zig-zag across mountain ranges. Bicycle Quarterly magazine and its sister company, Compass Cycles, that turns our research into high-performance components for real-world riders.
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19 Responses to Just Another Road!

  1. Emil says:

    Nice to see the Firefly bike in action! I recently bought a pair of these Rat Trap Pass tires and absolutely love them.

  2. Pete says:

    I attempted to ride from Seattle to San Fransisco on Bon Jon Pass tires. After 6 flats in 650 miles, including 3 in 20 miles, I gave up and replaced them with Ribmos (all the Crescent City bike shop had). No more flats.

    • Sorry to hear about your bad luck with flats. Usually, when flats happen in such quick succession, the debris that punctured the tube still is stuck in the tire, and punctures the new tube in the same place. Replacing the tire is your best bet if you cannot find what caused multiple punctures – at least until you can carefully inspect it and remove the debris.

      • Frank B. says:

        Did you also include wide tires with some kind of flat protection in your recent tire test? I’d be especially interested in results for the Panaracer Pasela 650x42B. As you may remember, I’m one of the riders who get way too many flats even on GB Hetres. With Paselas I don’t get any flats anymore, but now I’m wondering how much power I loose. I don’t care much if I’m a bit slower, as I’m not a racer like you – but I’m curious.

      • Our most recent tire tests look at tire width, not different models. So we tested the same Compass Extralight tires in widths up to 54 mm to see whether wider tires roll slower (or faster). We already know that puncture-resistant tires roll slower – we tested that in our very first tire tests, published in Bicycle Quarterly 17.

        Of course, tire choice always is a compromise. If you get a lot of flats, it makes sense to give up some speed and comfort in return to a more flat-resistant ride. Fortunately, with wider tires, most riders get very few flats, because the tires run at lower pressures and just roll over debris that would puncture a narrower, harder tire. But it all depends where you ride… if you are on the shoulders of highways that are strewn with debris from exploding truck tires, you will get more flats unless you switch to a heavily armored tire…

    • B. Carfree says:

      In addition to what Jan said, if you took the typical route then you spent a lot of time north of Crescent City on debris-strewn shoulders (think motor vehicle tire wires). From Crescent City south, there’s a lot more riding on roads without shoulders that also have a lot less traffic and thus you would be much less exposed to those annoying wires as the travel lane gets swept clean of debris while shoulders don’t.

      I hope you knew to turn off of the main drag at Fortuna to Fern Bridge and then rolled the wonderful, but more challenging, Lost Coast. There’s both paved and unpaved options until the last 24 miles of the clay-based Usul Rd. That route avoids a lot of traffic (I’ve gone literally hours without seeing a car) and is quite an improvement over riding in the Richardson Grove dangerous mess on US 101.

    • Pete, I understand your frustration: I had a pair of German made tyres that were highly rated in reviews and found them hopeless for punctures and handling. I said a lot of bad things about them and swore off them, but plenty of people around me swear by them and report no problems. I can honestly say, tho, that I had a pair of Bon Jon Pass tyres that I rode on rough rough gravel, heavily trafficked highways, city streets, and bike paths here in Australia and in Japan in all weather and with all kinds of loads for a total of 6 flats in around 4500 km. Two of those were pinch flats due to excessive speed combined with inattention to tyre pressure on far too rough ground, three were from very fine & tough wires, and the sixth was I suspect a tube failure. Currently, I’m using a pair of Stampede Pass tyres in the same conditions with three punctures (all in the last week, in different parts of the rear tyre: one pinch flat, two pieces of sharp glass (time for a new tyre, maybe)) in 3250 km. Sometimes things happen.

    • Mike G says:

      I had a number of flats early in my experience with GB & Compass tires…then realized that I hadn’t accepted wide tires “all the way.” I was still running at the max pressure on the sidewall (I think 90psi on 32c tires). Since moving to more like 65-70psi, the flats stopped and the tires wear more evenly.

  3. marmotte27 says:

    Nice one. Been watching it several times now since this morning on instagram and on here. This road looks like a couple of dirt roads around here I’ve tried and hated cycling on with my loup loup pas tires. But they are too few and far between to warrant getting a whole new bike just for them, besides they’ve got water drains across them evey 200 metres so large that even with 54mm tires you’d have to slow to a crawl; not much fun altogether.

    • I know the water drains you talk about. We encountered them in the Technical Trials in France… basically small ditches that run across the gravel road. I found the best way to take them at speed was simply jump across them. However, when they come in quick succession during fast downhills, it’s a bit of a challenge.

  4. I would really like to see more video material like this. Videos showing some of the skills in the various Bicycle Quarterly content sections, would be a win-win for everyone. For example, a video that could accompany issue #58 showing how to build a randonneur out of an old Trek frame would be great. It would really complement the print story. Speaking to this video in particular, having seen it, I might try to torture my new Compass tires a little bit after they are installed on my bike. I was sufficiently interested in the tires that I asked my local shop to order some for me. This was a few weeks ago. Not the kind shown in the video: my Jamis can’t take that size. The new tires are at the shop right now, waiting for me to bring the bike in. I’m hoping they will be installed later this week. Someone did suggest to me that I may get more flats than usual. Maryland streets are cruel to bicycle tires.

    • I am glad you enjoy the video. We will try to do more. The Skills column is an obvious choice… As to the tires, don’t “torture” them too much. Going fast doesn’t necessarily torture them if you ride “light”, that is, go with the bike and don’t force it. Same about flats – if you don’t ride through debris piles on the side of the road, you’ll probably be fine.

    • Michael says:

      Never fear! I have been riding Compass(Hetres, Cypres)/GB (Loup Loup) tires for a few years now on Howard/PG/Baltimore/Montgomery county roads and MUPS with very few flats at all. Eastern shore, too. I stick to mostly quiet neighborhood roads and avoid major highways when I can. Neighborhood streets are more shaded and beautiful to ride through than highways anyway. Though I will admit our roads can be cracked up and rutted pretty good in some places. But no pinch flats yet.

  5. Jan, do you know of any stock frames that come close to your Firefly in geometry and tire clearance? Thanks!

    • I think my Firefly is pretty much unique. I can’t think of a bike with low-trail geometry and clearance for 54 mm tires. With some ingenuity, you might be able to make something that approaches this. Hahn built his Enduro Allroad Bike from an old Bontrager with a custom-made fork. We call it the Ex-Bontrager…

  6. John Smith says:

    I would never ride on that kind of terrain with my Compass barlow pass tyres. Would get way too many punctures and sidewall cuts. i get minor sidewall cuts constantly (that can be fixed with shoe goo) and had one sidwall cut so had it needed stitching up to stop the inner tube poking out. Had to take them off and put on some SOMA c-line tyres to avoid getting punctures all the time on my gravel rides. Still get sidewall cuts though, although the ride quality is very similar. I wish i could love compass tyres but they are just too fragile for me. I ride 75% road 25% gravel and dirt.

    • Your Barlow Pass tires have only half as much air volume as the Rat Trap Pass shown in the video. With narrower tires, you need higher pressures, which makes the tires easier to cut.

      Beyond that, riding on rough roads is a skill that requires practice. It’s not just picking the best line, but also “riding light”: allow the bike to move under you, so it can deflect when it hits rocks, rather than forcing the tires into the rocks.

      Combine the two, and you should have very, very few problems. In tens of thousands of miles on gravel roads all over the world, I’ve cut one sidewall. That was when I was riding too-high pressure after suffering two pinch flats and running out of spare tubes in a mountain bike race. You can read about it in the new Bicycle Quarterly

  7. Daryl says:

    Wow. That little video puts the tire’s quality and the style of riding you do into perspective. Thanks.

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