So, over the winter I’ve bought a few bits and bobs. Trying to save money as and where I can and trying to find bargains, but in some cases, simply stumping up the cash was required. The following is an example of both finding a bargain, and stumping up the cash.
Firstly, the frame bag, or should I say partial frame bag. I’ve been after something like this for a while as I’ve been fed up with having to take the ruck sack. Why should I have to carry the weight, when the bike should be doing that? One of the drawbacks of frame bags is that they do have a tendency to be rather pricey, especially the custom fit jobbies. Another drawback of the custom fit bags is that, by their very nature, they’ll only fit one frame properly, so swapping between the KTM and the Ridley would be a no go. So I’d set my sights on a partial frame bag, specifically the WildCat Ocelot, I’d heard good things and they seem like a decent bunch of guys. This plan derailed when I spotted an advert on the BearBones forum for a second hand Apidura frame bag in the right size and in mint condition. So I grabbed it. £40 delivered, as opposed to £70. It fits perfectly along the top tube, however it’s a bit squishy from top to bottom as I think my downtube angle is a little shallow. To be honest, it’s not a big deal and I’m very happy with it. It’s the perfect shape and size for carrying tools, tubes, torch batter, pump, tent pole, food, spare warm bits… The list goes on. Must say, I’m very impressed by the Apidura build quality. The bag itself has two full length zippers allowing access to the two main compartments; one is a large cavity for “dumping stuff” in, the other is smaller, and contains a few small net pouches for organising things a little better. It also has a small opening on top (under the top tube) for allowing wires or water bladder tubes through. Very well though out bit of kit! Just to be on the safe side, I gave the frame bag (and my AlpKit dry bags) a quick coat of Fabsil. I’m sure the VX21 is waterproof enough anyway, but it seemed like a good idea just to add a thin layer of silicon, every little helps ‘n all that.
Now the tyres. The KTM was running 2.1″ Schwalbe Rapid Robs which were OK on hard pack surfaces and tarmac, but very skittish and unpleasant off road. I had to run them at around 40psi to avoid snake bite flats which meant they bounced around a lot and had very poor traction in proper, actual mud. So they had to go, I did a fair bit of research on t’interweb and asked for advice here and there and eventually decided on the Schwalbe Nobby Nic / Rock Razor combination you can see below. The Rock Razor is a rear specific tyre, it has a semi-slick profile in the centre to ease rolling resistance and keep things nice and fast, but has exceptionally soft side lugs designed to really dig in when the bike is leaning over. Hopefully this might keep things a bit more predictable at the back, the Robs had a tendency to just lose traction whenever they felt like it. The Nobby Nic up front is much chunkier and more of a classic mountain bike “all trail” design, this is the tyre that provides control and braking, so there’s nothing semi-slick about this tyre. I chose the 2.35″ varieties of both tyres and also went for the more expensive Snake Skin, TL Easy Evo versions of the tyres, this means they have much, much thicker side walls, meaning better protection, but also the added strength means I can reduce each tyres pressure without too much of a risk from snake bite flats. Another benefit of these tyres, is that if and when I decide to try tubeless, the tyres are ready and waiting. The Nic is the “trail star” (softer compound) and the Razor is the “pace star” (harder, faster compound). I’m currently experimenting with pressures, but 33psi at the back and 30psi at the front seems brilliant so far. Also, they look far, far chunkier and meatier than the Robs. When swapping the tyres over I really couldn’t get over just how thin and crappy the Robs felt, no wonder my tubes were covered in little green scab patches. These tyres were NOT cheap, they were the expensive variants and came in at £30 for the Nic and £35 for the Razor.
I forgot to weigh the tyres before they were fitted, but from the Schwalbe website:
- Nobby Nic, 27.5 x 2.35, Snakeskin, TL Easy, Folding = 720g
- Rock Razor, 27.5 x 2.35, Snakeskin, TL Easy, Folding = 695g
The Rapid Robs were 680g each, so it’s a weight gain, but not much.
EDIT As you can see in the picture below, the frame bag does make accessing bottles tricky, so I’ve used some of those “Elite” bottle cage strap thingys to shift the bottle cages down. I’ll add some pictures soon.
Frame bag and tyres