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Karl

Maximum Pace
Feb 7, 2011
1,041
1,137
I've been riding on trails a lot more than usual this year. When I come to something like this...

IMG_1586.jpeg

the only thing I can do is get off and walk (been using 32s, 35s and 43s). So, was wondering if others with a lot of experience on the MTB side of things (I'm looking at you @bloaker ) can actually ride up (or down) something like this with the proper bike and tires? If so, what width tires would you suggest?
 

bloaker

Sincerely A Dick
Nov 14, 2011
2,731
3,817
I've been riding on trails a lot more than usual this year. When I come to something like this... View attachment 28813
the only thing I can do is get off and walk (been using 32s, 35s and 43s). So, was wondering if others with a lot of experience on the MTB side of things (I'm looking at you @bloaker ) can actually ride up (or down) something like this with the proper bike and tires? If so, what width tires would you suggest?
That looks doable on my gravel bike (700x45). It is about line choice more than anything. Look for the stable rocks and avoid pedal strikes.
This is the fun part of riding! However - My Fargo with 29x2.5 tires would eat this up!
 

luka

Maximum Pace
Jan 13, 2015
2,052
1,825
@Karl definitely rideable on gravel bikes, not to mention MTB. tires (traction) is just one important part. the other is low enough gearing. road gears won't get you up this thing, not even the compact ones. I have 30 in the front and 34 at the back, and still wish for one or two easier gears when it gets reaaaaly steep and bumpy off road. going down is also surprisingly nowhere close as easy as on tarmac, but definitely doable with a bit of practice and good brakes.

EDIT: just to add quickly, just because one can ride it, one should not expect to be much faster than on foot, or that it's gonna be significantly less tiring. if it's a long climb at this gradient, you'll probably be snaking your way up it at 3-4 km/h or so
 

Karl

Maximum Pace
Feb 7, 2011
1,041
1,137
That looks doable on my gravel bike (700x45). It is about line choice more than anything. Look for the stable rocks and avoid pedal strikes.
This is the fun part of riding! However - My Fargo with 29x2.5 tires would eat this up!
Wow! Not sure I'll ever have the skills or power to do that, but I'd sure like to be able to ride more of this stuff and walk less because walking these rock gardens for a km or two is slow going. Next time I'll put the Gravel King SK 43s on and see if I can't get a bit further. I'll have to buy another bike if I want to go much bigger than 45mm though.

@luka I have pretty low gearing on my Surly (26 front 42 rear = about 17 gear inches) Even so, once I hit a rock the wrong way and my balance is thrown off or my momentum is stopped, it is hard to get going again on a steep incline. (This was something like 7 to 10% grade.) I'd like to ride a bike with tires over 50mm someday, just to see how it feels going over roots or rock gardens. Since I have low skills and lower power, not sure it would make much difference for me, but I'm fat tire curious.
 

Half-Fast Mike

Lanterne Rouge-et-vert
May 22, 2007
4,268
2,973
was wondering if others with a lot of experience on the MTB side of things...
I'm not sure if I meet this criterion, but you and I have been riding (or not) up and down a lot of the same alleged-roads, and I feel your pain.

I take some inspiration from this fella:



@Karl, I have rather more mountain bikes than I need, and would be happy to lend you one for a while if you want to try it out.

One thing I know I should do, but rarely do, is lower the pressure in my tires. I don't do it because I don't want to stop and pump them back up when I get back to the tarmac.
 

luka

Maximum Pace
Jan 13, 2015
2,052
1,825
@Karl once you've stopped you might try starting not straight up, but more at an angle to the climb. @Half-Fast Mike mentioned this too, but I think tire pressure is very important. when you say hitting a rock strangely throws you off balance or stops you, too high a tire pressure is the first thing that comes to mind. I remember hitting similar stuff on my first off road ride ever, with 40 psi (in 47 mm tires) and was bouncing around too much, could not stabilize either the front or the rear wheel. I learned from that and next time went with about 30 psi instead, and had muuuuch smoother going. and yes, I carry a portable tire pressure gauge, as well as a large enough pump for these rides, so I can easily switch between tarmac pressure and off road
 

Karl

Maximum Pace
Feb 7, 2011
1,041
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@Half-Fast Mike Ah! Got it. Mike Boyd, eh? Some good info there.

Thanks for the offer. Might be difficult to work that out logistically, but it is an interesting proposition.

I was thinking back to the picture of your fat tire bike at the top of Inugoeji. I think you said you went down 76 on that bike (or was it 'up' 76). I'll bet the RDO would be great for that road/trail. It is exactly the kind of surface that I have trouble with.
 
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Karl

Maximum Pace
Feb 7, 2011
1,041
1,137
@luka I'm sure that is part of it too. I haven't switched to tubeless so I run 60psi to avoid pinch flats. I hear people talk about 'gliding' over the rocks (i.e. recent Dustin Klein video). I've never experienced that yet.
 

luka

Maximum Pace
Jan 13, 2015
2,052
1,825
so you got the gearing right, but the tire pressure is all wrong @Karl no one can ride that at 60 psi. one benefit of tire width, apart from wider contact surface and hence more traction, is that it allows you to run it at lower pressures, while also minimizing the pinch flat risk. I don't run tubeless either, although that is another factor that would allow you to further reduce pressure. you have to do a bit of trial and error. what's the lowest pressure you can run on your current set of tires before pinch flats become really a problem? no one can say. if I were you, I'd go down to 40 psi next time. 43 mm tires should handle that just fine, maybe even 30-32 psi. go a tad higher in the rear
 

Half-Fast Mike

Lanterne Rouge-et-vert
May 22, 2007
4,268
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@Half-Fast Mike "An error occurred. Please try again later. (Playback ID: TtVMQKZGqWpkd_A-)"
I've corrected the link.

yo fat tire bike at the top of Inugoeji

20080613-105316.jpeg

Not so phat. But I have no doubt that Inugoeji was in much better condition back in 2008. I've only ridden up the Dōshimichi side; never yet down. That 25-year-old bike is still in use by my son. Although all the damping is gone from the fork - it's basically a pogo-stick - he seems to like it around town, and it's not worth shelling out for an air fork.

20080613-100854.jpeg
 

MattRyuu

Maximum Pace
Apr 23, 2019
361
391
Not sure if I have a lot of qualifications here, but I was a US patent examiner in the bicycle and motor vehicle classes. As part of an education trip, I booked my unit out to see specialized and rock shox in Santa Cruz, and we tested a few of their prototypes circa 2000 on the forest paths around then. If you're doing pathing with a good MTB, you need to path well, first and foremost, which I think is what @bloaker is getting at; understand slippage (like a wetter surface, incline, etc.); bike shock absorption geometry. But...as a dude who's knees are shot...I can't recommend. Sorry to say that at the end....I'm trying to not get knee replacement surgeries when I'm in my early to mid 60s, and collegiate volleyball and a career of running from 14 yo to 35 yo.
 

Half-Fast Mike

Lanterne Rouge-et-vert
May 22, 2007
4,268
2,973
Wow.... TCC been quiet today.

I received my new tyres for the Niner. WTB Nano Comp seem much more substantial around the sidewall than the ~Nano TCS version. ("Tubeless ready; `CutS-easily" maybe?) I've changed them over, dumped the rear, and folded the old front, as-yet undamaged front tyre in my saddlebag.

I'm off work tomorrow - indeed, I'm off more of December than not - so I'll head out early for a long and mostly-flat ride up the Arakawa and into Saitama's greatest hits.
 
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