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Michelin Wild AM 280 tyre review.

OK, quick wee blog for you!

First up, these are cheap. Plus size tyres are expensive and these were not. So having already splashed on a 30mm wheel-set to put them on. They were right on the money (so to speak) However, If I hadn’t got these I wouldn’t have been able to try something a bit different and would probably have been running a HRII / DHF combo for twice (three times?) the money.

Michelin WIld AM 27.5x2.8 Mountain Bike Tyre

So I have these to finish up what is most likely the ideal setup on my Pipedream Moxie. As you may have read in a previous blog, I’ve tried 29″ 27.5″ and now it’s time for the 27+ option, or as close as I can get! I’m mounting these on a 30mm (internal) rim to get a nice big profile and keep some even volume across the width. Ideally and with most plus bikes a 40mm internal rim is specced, but I think this would be crazy on a such a potentially lively bike. So with what was available, the money I had and the timescale I was working with. So off I went and stuck it all together.

What forks?

My fork is a 29 / 27+ fox Factory 36. The brace clearance on this fork is quite generous even with a big 29er, so with the smaller 27+ wheel and the “less tall and round” profile of this tyre, the whole package sits well below the fork brace. It doesn’t look too goofy and theres plenty of clearance for the Mud Hugger to be mounted.

What wheels?

The tyre and rim combo is pretty heavy and as I was in a bit of a hurry, I have tubes inside too. Even with an air-shot, the creased (due to retail folding) bead of the tyre plus the extra internal volume proved problematic to getting a seal in the time I had. They’ve been on on for a while now, so I’ll probably whip them off and try again now they have been seated for a while.

First thing I noticed is that I didn’t actually feel that much drag. The way these things look, you’d thing they would be terrible, but no, at least not for me. When the ground gets really packed, like forest roads etc, you can feel the tyre gripping and “moving” under torque, bit it didn’t feel like drag to me, Kinds weird but there you go?

On the Front.

Certain riders will look down and find security in a rounder profile, big knobbed tyre. I’m kind of one of them. Running these around the 25psi mark in intermediate weather on a mixture of natural off-piste trails and the more “knackered” trail centre lines brought out a decent bit of performance out of there. Although they did roll a tiny wee bit on very tight turns, it seemed like it was just the casing doing its job and not an under-inflation problem. It was a very predictable thing and I soon got used to it. Putting any more air in this tyre is a no-no though. It just immediately stands too tall and the knobs are way too aggressive to be relied on alone, without the flexibility of the casing.

I’ve also now had the chance to try them on some slimy steeps too. I did, though let out a few psi and they were fine. There was a bit of clogging at low speed, but as soon as the speed picked up, they cleared fairly fast. A few folk have scoffed at these tyres for natural riding, but I have found them just fine.

On the back.

The front follows the back… every time! Again, too much air and it just bounced off everything (surprise) Run the rear a bit lower and dig your heels in a bit to make the casing and the tread work best. Theres a 2.6 version available too, so I may give that a go on the rear just so it breaks loose a little more readily as the 2.8 really did grip when deliberately pressed into service.

The equivalent Maxxis and Schwalbe tyres in this size are extremely expensive and can be quite hard to reliably find in stock too. So as I said above, these were a cheap solution to get my bike rolling. Turns out that they are actually more than OK. The very soft compound is always a worry, but I guess we’ll see where grip and longevity meet in the long run?

At £22.99 a hoop though, I’m willing to take the chance.

Steel is… Pipedream Moxie first impressions.

Real? Steel is real, yeah thats how the hashtag goes isn’t it? So here we go, right from the top #steelisreal

But in a world where carbon can be laid up to mimic just about any type of material is it (steel) any good? Is it worth the hassle? As I reckon that you average mountain biker has forgotten how harsh a hardtail MTB can really be? I’ve ridden some alloy suspension bikes that can be quite unforgiving, especially with the suspension set up badly, so god knows what your average alloy hardtail must feel like these days? (feel free to let us know) So with all that, is this the answer?

 

Ridelines Pipedream Moxie Review

The Pinkest of All The Pink Bikes. The Pipedream Moxie in 29″ trim.

Fist up, thanks to Alan Finlay at Pipedream Cycles for hooking us up with the latest incarnation of their Enduro hardtail, the very pink “Moxie” Its long, slack and low, bloody low! Even in 29″ trim with 165mm cranks it still feels very close to mother earth. Although curiously, in both wheel sizes, I haven’t had a pedal or crank strike yet. Again, I reckon we’re all a bit used to the effect of preload and movement of the BB on suspension bikes that we just come to expect to clip the pedal now and again anyway?

So +1 already, it’s very predictable this thing, so much so that I nearly had a few “unplanned manoeuvres” due to the fact that I thought it wouldn’t be! Truth be told that this is the first hardtail that I’ve had that has felt specifically “designed” to be any kind of useful mountain bike. This is mainly because since I bought my Rocky Mountain Element in 1997, my main bikes have all been full suspension ones.

In fact I think I’ve had 2 or 3 hardtails in those 20 years and they were all before anyone was really tuning their geometry. At least to the point of real specifics and certainly not for aggressive trail riding.

I’m gonna go straight to climbing here. A few past reviews have suggested that a slightly sharper seat angle would make the Moxie climb a bit better and I’d tend to agree, but 76.5° isn’t exactly mega slack and I shoved my saddle forward 10mm and dipped the nose a wee bit, which makes some difference on climbs but isn’t ideal across the board. It’s the 470mm reach and 65.5° head angle on our “long” bike that creates the issue (not an issue) I can deal with it.

It’s not an issue because this bike was obviously designed for descending and general hooliganism, where so far it has excelled. All this with a 29″ wheel too! I’ve really done most of my riding on this bike with a 29″ carbon wheel and a 150mm fork (Fox 36 Factory) and less in the 27.5, but both wheel sizes have their benefits which I’ll save for another day.

Springy Thingy…

The first ride on this was actually a 30km XC ride and to be honest, I loved every minute. Ok, you lose a wee bit of braking traction on the back end when it gets high-speed spicy, again I think we’re spoilt by suspension in this regard. But the long reach and slack head angle force traction on the front wheel and make you forget about the back end that will predictably follow. I’ve been able to lean on some serious front end braking on this bike too, helping with any speed scrubbing issues on the rear.

It’s super comfy too. 4130 chromoly, remember that? The tube-set with a super cult following from back in the day and particularly BMXers. A cold rolled steel-alloy that is super strong, takes a very positive weld and remains flexible to boot. Black magic if you ask me.

Anyway, I did notice that this bike has no gussets at the major tube junctions. Seems this is a bi-product of the guys choosing to go for a custom tube-set that can be drawn and welded to their specification. This means no strengthening needed, and no extra materials on these junctions also means a more lively, less “stiff” frame all round.

Where stiffness is needed though, around the BB. We see a change to some flat plates that wrap-around the BB very neatly indeed. The finish on the bike overall is fantastic and isn’t compromised ever where folk don’t usually look.

Ridelines: Pipedream Moxie Review

Another long XC ride. This time with Standard 27.5 Rims.

Let me just say that I’ve now tried this bike in 29″ with DT Swiss XMC1200 carbon 30mm rims (Minion DHF & High Roller 2) and some older DT Swiss E1900 25mm (same tyre combo) I have to say that I actually preferred the 29″ setup so far, but I’ve mostly been mincing around trail centres and doing long XC rides. To be honest, the Moxie excels at both.

The 29″ setup felt indestructible though. On steep terrain it was so surefooted that I actually forgot that I was on a hardtail. I would imagine its pretty hard to optimise a bike for 2 wheel sizes but so far it seems to be working? I also took the bike out with Std 27.5 wheels and felt it limited the bike. I didn’t like it. It felt skittish, rear grip felt like it was a problem all the time and I just felt like the back end wouldn’t follow the rear.

So, I’m hoping that the next experiment (30mm 27.5 rims with 2.8 tyres) will be the one. This should give closer to 29″ rolling size and but not push the limits of tyre clearance as the wheel will run through the frame slightly further back. I would honestly keep the 29″ setup, but the tyre width I’d like to run on the rear buzzes off the frame at the chain stay yoke more often than I’d like.

Final trim

OK, not an in depth review, but a first impression. I’m gonna give it a shot in 27+ and get back to you as I honestly think that it’s gonna be the sweet spot. If I could just get a bit more space for the 29″ tyre I wanted, I’d have left the big wheels in though. But I guess I’ll know the score on all points if I try it.

So I’ll be back with that!

Sealskinz Dragon Eye Waterproof MTB Glove Review.

Admittedly, I had to buy these because the velcro strap just ripped away from almost 2 year old all-weather Sealskinz gloves. I was about to go off on a guided MTB ride in the Tweed Valley during a rather inclement local weather cycle, so they were a bit of a distress purchase. And nope, they weren’t free, I bought them with our own money.

The other week I put up a fairly ordinary social media post that resulted in a few questions. So I thought I’d write a few words on these gloves. When you’re a Mountain Bike Guide or indeed any instructor that spends a lot of time standing watching others, your well-being can be a tightrope.  When cold weather gear is to thick or heavily layered you’ll cook, then cool down in  your own sweat when standing still. Too thin and you’ll cool down too quick and perhaps struggle to warm back up. Guiding can be different, as you can perhaps set a pace and make provisions for this sort of thing.

Sealskinz Dragon Eye MTB Glove

Lest start off by saying this is a good looking glove (that matches our kit :)

Anyway, these gloves were £45. Expensive by normal glove standards, But actually when you’re out there, good gear will pay for itself many times over. But they have to be good! I’ve been out in these in bad weather for 4 days in the rain so can’t speak to longevity, but I can speak to their function. Firstly I’ll say that they fit me well. They are a wee bit on the tight side getting past the cuff as I’ve found many Sealskinz gloves to be. Once on though, they are very comfy. With my hand open I just get that little trampoline in the centre of my palm and the glove wants to pull my hand closed.

I like my gloves like this as when you clench your fist, you don’t want a load of bunched material getting in the way of your hand against the grip. It’s also worth noting that there’s no padding on the palm, which seems to be the case with most gloves these days. Again, this doesn’t bother me as I’m more about the right grips than padding on gloves.

Sealskinz Dragoneye Glove Palm

The Palm on the Dragon Eye is very taught and doesn’t bunch up.

The velcro strap has a strange idiosyncrasy that I can’t see past though. Theres a 2″ patch of velcro on the glove and a 2″ strap to cover it, but it doesn’t quite work as well as it should. When the cuff is pulled tight and the strap pulled over, it only grips on less than half of the velcro. This leaves the other half redundant. (see image below) The strap just feels like it’s ready to come loose on it’s own (it hasn’t) but I’ve caught it a few times and it’s came away very easily. (such as pulling my jacket sleeve back to look at my watch) It’s a shame as there’s some seriously heavy stitching on the heavy-duty strap itself over an area that if moved along a bit could have solved this issue. I’m unsure how this small patch of velcro will hold up over time? In short, I think this strap needs to be longer.

Sealskinz Dragoneye Glove Velcro Strap

The strap on the Dragon Eye only closes half way with a very small strap area.

The above is a glitch really as every other feature on this glove cures every other problem I’ve had with waterproof gloves. The fingers are gusseted to a point at the ends, they feel very thin and have anti-slip silicone patches on the braking fingers. Because of this, they are quite malleable and as a result are great for tinkering and the like out on the trail. At £45 though I’d liked to have seen some touch screen compatibility, though I’m admittedly unsure how this would effect the waterproof nature of the product.

They are pretty light for a warm glove too. Just 100g a pair on my scales. You can feel the liner moving a little if you try, but when you wear the glove it feels very stable. Breathability though is quite low and you’ll sweat a bit, but after 3 days in the rain, I definitely did not have wet hands. Best of all, when you pull your hand out, the liner doesn’t come with it despite sweaty hands. Theres some nice rubberised detail going on on the gloves too and the colours we chose are quite neutral.

Sealskinz Dragon Eye MTB Glove Fingers

The Dragon Eye’s fingers are tapered, so you can get fiddly jobs done.

I thought these were expensive… But perhaps thats a bit harsh as they don’t look like you’d think a waterproof glove would look. They are thin, good looking and don’t have that “Ski glove” presentation that this type of product has suffered from for years. So yeah, bearing in mind that I actually like them very much despite my niggles. They are probably right on the money at £45.

If you see us out and about with these gloves on, feel free to ask us about them. You can also have a look at the Sealskinz Dragon Eye MTB Glove range on the Sealskinz website HERE