When I was building up my new Viner Maxima I once again became infatuated with every type of new technology that was available for bike builds . In my humble opinion the Maxima frameset is the pinnacle of what is available at present . Marcel Wust did seem to concur during his test in Pro cycling magazine .
I was torn when it came to groupset choice . I have been a longtime fan of Shimano’s reliability and functionality . Mechanically their products are superb . And to top it all of the new 7900 Dura Ace groupset has internally routed cables which I had been wishing for all along . However Campagnolo introduced the Super Record groupset which has carbon everywhere . The frameset is made from the finest carbon available and the campag looks so good I was really tempted . They are both Italian which is another factor . Then came the realisation that the Campag had ceramic bearings and I was hooked . Super Record it was .
Next came the wheels . Deep section carbon would look fantastic , but I wanted to build the bike so that it would be usable every day , especially on July 20th for the Etape . Full carbon rims do have braking issues in the wet even using swiss stop pads . They are great for racing , but for training and sportifs’ they are not ideal . Carbon wheels with an alloy braking surface are a good option and are more practical for Irish roads and I was seriously considering a pair of Mavic Cosmic Carbon SLR’s until I recalled a review of Hutchinson tubeless tyres . Almost all cars now use tubeless so it makes sense that they would work well on a bike . Not all wheels are tubeless compatible so this was now a consideration . The choices were ;
Campagnolo Shamal Ultra 2-way or Eurus 2-way
Fulcrum Racing Zero 2-way
Shimano Dura ace 7801
The Campag groupset immediately ruled out the Shimano wheels . That left the Campag and Fulcrum wheels . The Campag Shamal Ultra’s were first choice due to their weight advantage 1395g per pair , but the colour would clash with the bike as they are either grey or gold .The Fulcrums were next up at 1425g but on a practical level were out of stock at that time and are €300 more than the Campag Eurus 2-way . At 1550g they are a little heavier but are very strong . The colour matches the bike nicely and they are a really well built wheel . I choose the Eurus .
With little effort I fitted a pair of Hutchinson Fusion2 Tubeless tyres . It took less time than fitting a standard tyre and tube set up . I inflated them to 100 psi . I normally ride clinchers at 120 psi . I have now used them 10 times and have over 750k on them and here is what I have found so far .
Because you can ride them at a lower pressure they are more comfortable . Normal clinchers at 90 – 100 psi would be susceptible to pinch flats . As there is no tube this is not an issue . Another problem with clinchers at this pressure would be increased rolling resistance where the wheels would become to feel ‘sluggish’ . This is not an issue with tubeless .
One morning I was out with the group as we descended Colligan hill . I was in the middle of the group and was being sucked along . I hate using brakes when there is another option as I feel that I am wasting energy so whenever I find myself riding up near the wheel in front I veer out slightly , catch a bit of wind , slow down and move back in again . This did not work . Whilst everyone around me was pedalling I was floating along rolling the pedals backwards to keep the blood flowing . As I was running up on the wheel in front I veered out as usual but did not slow down . I sat up high to catch more wind , like a sail , and still I was moving faster up alongside the rider in front . I was left with no option but to use the brakes in order to slot back in to my place in the line .
I have done that spin hundreds of times with all types of wheels and bikes . I have gone down that hill in a group on Zipp 404’s , Mavic Carbon Cosmic’s , Reynolds Stratus dv’s with Vittoria cx tubulars among many different types of wheels and never before have I experienced such a ‘free’ ride .
Out of the saddle the wheels feel like deep section carbon wheels with tubulars fitted.
Today I decided to really put them to the test . We don’t have any cobbles like The Forest of Arenberg in Paris Roubaix . But what we do have is the Curraghmore Estate . The roads within the estate are pretty rough and were used by Sean Kelly when he was at his peak . As I entered the Estate I stuck it in a big gear , loosley gripped the tops of the bars and sat back over the saddle and tried my best to get a puncture . I failed miseably . The tyres glided over the stones and potholes . The whole bike was super smooth . I should have felt my teeth chattering but it felt as though I was still on smooth tarmac . It was a good test of frame , wheels and tyres . All passed with flying colours .
The one flaw that I did notice was on my very first spin as I looked down over the bars there seemed to be a slight wobble . I even stopped to check , but the tyre was seated properly . What it was is the overlap of the different compounds on the tyre . They are not perfectly straight so this can be a little disconcerting at first . It is only a minor issue but one to bear in mind on your first spin on tubeless .
So what happens if you do puncture ?
Simple , you can either use a can of Hutchinson co2 sealant or pop in a normal tube and ride it like a clincher .
At present only Hutchinson offer tubeless tyres but Continental are working on their own version and the An Post Sean Kelly team have been testing a prototype specialized tubeless system .
Here are some other reviews of this new bicycle technology ;