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CST BFT (Big Fat Tire) Review by Jerry Hazard

Posted by RL Policar On August - 7 - 20121 COMMENT

We’ve asked Team Racer-Jerry “Dukes of” Hazard to provide us a review on some tires that he had been using on his Airborne Taka and Maurauder. You’ll be surprised to learn on how much they cost in relation to how well they perform.

As always, its too slow to get here, and too soon to pass. The summer riding season is just about past full swing. I’ve finally gotten to that point with my riding where I’m super comfortable with where I’m at skill-wise, enough so that I now can push myself comfortably beyond the edge – take those curves a little faster, let off the brakes more, and boost just a little harder over the gaps. But with all this riding and progression comes a price. Not only bumps and bruises associated with each “next step” , but also wear and tear on our rigs. Consumables are getting near or past the point where safety is now an issue. Time to change out those chains, cables, bleed the brakes, service the forks and bearings, and replace the treads.

Nice that most consumables are relatively inexpensive; grips, cables/housings and all. Thrifty riders can change out most everything important under $50. But there’s always a couple parts I will ride until they fail completely – tires being the chief culprit. Good tires, my favorite tires – the Minion DH F (front and rear, please) are simply just not affordable. I can’t really afford to replace them more than once a season. In fact, most of the decent, popular meats cost as much or more per tire than what I pay for my cars’ tires.

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Enter CST Tires. Frequently available for around $15 each via Cambria bike, the CST BFT (Big Fat Tire) offers up an affordable option in the traction department. It may or may not be widely known, but CST is actually the parent company that also runs Maxxis. CST has this to say about the BFT:
Meaty center and side knobs combined with a high-volume casing create the ultimate aggressive all-mountain / freeride tire. The BFT offers predictable cornering and excellent braking traction, just what you need when the trail gets dicey. The BFT is available with a wire or folding bead with EPS puncture protection.

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The photo shows the BFT on the left, and the Holy Roller on the right.

Early this spring, I equipped both my Freeride/AM bike and my DH rig with a pair of BFTs. Up close, the tread pattern has an uncanny resemblance to the Maxxis Holy Roller, though not quite as aggressive with the treads, especially on the edges. The rubber compound feels pretty tough, and though they state there is “EPS puncture protection” included – there is no mention whether the tires are single or dual-ply. I am guessing single. I don’t have an accurate weight at the moment, but they don’t feel overly heavy, again – similar to the Minions. CST calls the BFT out at 2.4, but I feel they err on the side of large, closer to 2.5, are rated up to 65psi.

The beads are tight, but not impossible to mount. They slide over my WTB laser disc DH rims, Velocity Blunts and my Sun MTX 33s with a little effort, if you use your man hands, you can probably get them over the rim without tire levers. I air mine up to about 40psi or so on both my AM and DH rigs.

Trails around here are pretty seasonal – in the colder weather, it’s usually going to be rocky terrain where there is little snow, and well, little dirt. Places like Dave’s trail in Moab and Medicine Trail in Durango are keen because they are exposed and dry when everywhere else is snow or muddy. So the rocks are where I first tried out the BFTs.

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First time out on the BFTs – high desert winter slickrock. Mix of mud, muck, ice, stone and dirt – the BFTs held their own in this wintery mix. Aired down a bit (35psi for me), the tires gave superb traction on New Mexico sandstone.

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Lots of off camber pokey rocks in the deserts around ABQ (favorite winter getaway for riding). Short, steep climbs and slow, controlled techy descents were no problem. The compound on the CST is not too stiff, not too soft allowing to get grabby in a variety of situations.

Running from the mud, Sand Canyon

Stair-stepped sandstone and redrock/dirt didn’t fool the BFTs. Tagged quite a few rocks along the way, but no rips or punctures
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Brakeless through the rough – CSTs held the line with confidence..
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Pushed to the limits of AM to light DH riding, the 2.4 diamter of the BFTs provided enough traction and just a little bit of shock absorption.
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In a true all-mountain setting, the BFTs did not disappoint. Rocks, bumps, stumps and high-desert dirt, the BFT offered up traction one can trust. This turn is a keen example.

The CST BFTs in 2.4 size really held their own in my mixed up all-mountain all terrain world. Rocks, hardpack, and moon dust they did their job well, and were quite durable. They still reside aboard my Airborne Marauder, and unless there’s some drastic changes in tire pricing, they’ll be the replacements when the time comes.
Well that covers about half of what I bought the tires for, but how do they compare when trail goes only downwards, fast and furious like?
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Early seasons Durango loose sand posed no issues on the DH rig with the BFTs. They cut in nicely and held their bite. A bit on the skinny side for a DH tire, they held surprisingly well.
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In dry hardpack, the BFT does its job as well as anything. Fully committed in this berm shot, tires were the last thing on my mind.
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Moab is not the first place that jumps to mind when you think gravity/dh riding, but it’s a little known secret to those in the four corners area that it’s a great winter getaway to get some quick dh shuttles in. Dave’s trail is almost as rocky as it gets, and with a fresh set of BFTs, I had no worries. In fact, I had a fresh pair mounted on a brand-new set of Sun MTX 33 wheels – I actually put a couple dents to the rim, but the tire didn’t pinch flat or puncture.
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End of the line. In Keystone, Colorado I found the outer limit of the BFTs – serious rock gardens. A bit more than the tire is made for in my opinion. I pinch flatted both runs through, and ended up swapping out to Minion DHFs in the super tacky dual ply version.
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On the left is the BFT, and the right we have a Minion DHF. At first, I was a bit bummed but failed to recognize that I’ve been running the BFTs all season (since February) and it was really time to change them out anyhow.

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This rider’s conclusion is that the CST BFT is a great tire for all-moutnain/enduro use, even some light downhill. It is a single ply tire, so you get a bit lighter weight, but a bit less durability. I think for the intended use, that’s a fair trade-off. It offers great traction in a wide variety of conditions, and even though it is single-ply, I never pinch flatted in a “AM” situations.

For downhill, I would have to stress the phrase “right tool for the job” – meaning the BFT is probably not the right tool for DH riding. Which is okay, as they’re not really marketed as such. I just like to push things sometimes. While they were fresh, in the first 2 months of riding, I had zero complaints. The BFT was quite resilient in some very harsh circumstances, and their traction was very good on hardpack and rocky situations. However, when the trail became more “dirt orientated”, with a large presence of moist, thick dirt and loam, they failed to hook up as well as proven tire like the Minion or Holy Roller. And once worn in, the performance fades away fast. I was quite surprised to pinch flat twice at Keystone, since I did three trips to Moab for shuttles and had no issue.

So, all Mountain? YES, without hesitations. But CST BFT for DH? Going to have recommend against. The BFT offers incredible value and performance, if you keep them in the terrain/usage they are intended.

The BFT was previously available via Cambria Bike, however they seem to be out of stock. I have found them available on Amazon for about $25, so they’re still a great deal.

FTC Disclaimer

Here’s what I saw and did this weekend

Posted by RL Policar On August - 6 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

IMAG0715 - Sophia
The first thing I did was go on a ride to Aliso Woods with Lady P, Single K and Nick D. Since I was out of shape, right after climbing up Cholla, I decided to head a different direction than the rest of the group. I went through Rockit (my favorite) and met them down by the bottom of their destination, Meadows. In the photo above you can see that I’m still using the KORE OCD bar. Yes I know it’s pretty wide and throughout the time I was at Aliso, I kept getting asked, “bro, how wide are those bars?”

As I was sitting waiting for the rest of the group to arrive, I noticed this chart that was posted on the trail. It’s some sort of circle of life thing. Aren’t those squirrels cute! But it’s sad how the Coyote is about to pounce on them. Then the bunny next to it just doesn’t have a chance since the rattler is right behind him.
IMAG0714

Once I got home, I noticed something on my rear derailleur. Can you see it? All morning I kept mishitting and I thought that I either wore out my drive train or the hanger was bent. Well, I’m glad that it was just this issue in which I could easily fix.
IMAG0716

Later that day I walked my dog, Cowboy.
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I then went to Wal-Mart. Not sure if you do this, but I ALWAYS go by the bicycles and make fun of the assembly jobs. Here’s a great example of how their bicycle assembly people don’t really know much about putting bikes together. I was first drawn to this bike because it’s a 29er beach cruiser, but I noticed the bars.
IMAG0724

I thought that this might have just been an isolated incident, nope. Check out this other 29er cruiser.All the other cruisers and bikes had proper handle bar positioning, but for some odd reason, those guys made the 29ers look like this.
IMAG0723

Last but certainly not least. The bitter/sweet moment of my weekend. I just about screamed like a little girl at Justin Bieber concert when I saw this…a Unicorn helmet! But I was saddened that they only had children’s sizing…
IMAG0722

After realizing that I probably would never come across an adult sized Unicorn helmet, I drank my sorrows away and went to bed in the sporting goods aisle. But I was rudely interrupted by an employee saying I had to go home. As sad as I was, that helmet gave me inspiration for a NEW MtnBikeRiders.com jersey…you ready? Unicorns! I’m already working with our artist to see if we can come up with a long sleeve DH style jersey. Ya I know it’s summer right now and it’s going to be 90 degrees today…but it’s my jersey so there!
angry_unicorn

Happy IPA Day

Posted by Albacore On August - 2 - 20124 COMMENTS

If you are a real man and like a true beer full of hoppy goodness then today is our day. It is National IPA day. What is an IPA you ask? Only the best thing to float past your lips. Learn more about it at ipaday.org. Grab your MtnBikeRiders.com beer koozie (or buy one if you haven’t already you cheapskate) and celebrate today. These koozies are bitchin. The best part is they fit 22.5oz bottles. Cheers!

 

Apparently I’m a Hoarder

Posted by RL Policar On August - 1 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

I kinda, sorta knew this because when you go into my garage I’ve got about 19-23(give or take 5) bicycles and frames as well as various parts that could easily build up a new bike for a family of 6. My garage is a tandem-2 car garage. That means it’s 1 car wide, but 2 car deep. So the inside half of my garage is what I call my “Shop.” But Lady P just calls it a “mess.” Most of the folks who have been in my garage kinda just freak out on just how much stuff I have there. Funny thing about that, when I was growing up my brother, SSGT. Randy was one of the messiest guys I have ever met. His room would have old dishes that had stuff growing all over it and his junk was all over the place. But somehow being in the Army for over 18 years beat all that mess out of him. Now his garage is super organized, heck even his boat has special compartments where things belong. So when he comes into my garage, he just kinda wigs out because he can’t handle the mess. But if you’re anything like me, then you’ll know where everything is, no matter how messy it is.

This is what I consider “clean.” But it doesn’t fly with the Mrs.

Often times Lady P has made comments that she’ll just go in there and throw everything out or that she’ll do some sort of intervention with me and have some of my closest friends come in and throwing things out. Bleh, what she as well as the rest of the world doesn’t understand is that, “I’ll use those parts later.” Or that they have some sort of purpose set aside, but because I’m so busy I just haven’t gotten around to those projects.

Rather than ending up on the Hoarders show with ACTUAL hoarders (animal hoarders), I’ve devised a plan to help me cut through the junk. Not sure if I’ll ever follow through, but it’s a great start! Ok so here it goes.

1. Check my inventory of parts and junk
2. Have I used it in the last 2 years? Yes-Keep. No-Trash
3. Don’t save any cable housing that is less than 1 foot.
4. Pass out extra bikes that I do not use to friends and family.
5. Sell items that are of value that I won’t use. I currently have a ton of stuff listed on Craigslist! Gotta pay down those student loans!
6. Give things away? Crazy idea, but I’ve got stuff I will never use such as 7-8 speed parts that could be useful to someone.
7. Consistently sell stuff. I’ve got 15, new children’s helmets that I have to get rid off! If I can’t sell them by the end of summer, I can use them as give-aways for the next Career Day.

Ok, now that I have that on my To-Do list, execution is the next step. There’s going to be a bicycle swap meet at the Fullerton Loop on Saturday, August 11, 2012 from 7am-12noon. I plan on lugging what ever can fit in the Limo down to the venue and sell this stuff at super cheap prices. I’ll probably have $1.00 bins just so I can move these items. Hopefully I won’t be bringing back that stuff I brought down. Besides, I wanted to go to Sizzler that same night and if I don’t sell my junk, then no All-You-Can-Eat Shrimp for me!

Up to 94% off? Dang, how do they stay in business?

Posted by RL Policar On August - 1 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

If you haven’t heard, Pricepoint.com is having a pretty good sale. They’ve got pretty much everything on discount. They even have tubes, 5 for $11.98. That comes out to $2.40 per tube, which is just about wholesale cost for those things if you were a shop!
PP sale

That’s no thorn…

Posted by RL Policar On July - 31 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

On my ride yesterday, I recall running over something, then hearing a click click click sound. I pull over and by the time I come to a stop, my tire is flat. Check out what I got in my tire.
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The hole in my tire was about the size of a pencil.
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Flats suck, and I’m showing my disapproval for them, and yes I do wear pink gloves. Flats suck so bad that I’ve come up with a new word to describe them…FLUCK! So now when you get a flat, you can say, AW FLUCK!
IMAG0695

How important is air pressure in your tires?

Posted by RL Policar On July - 30 - 20121 COMMENT

If you ask me, it’s pretty important! One of the things I’ve learned in my many years of riding and racing
is knowledge of what tire pressure works best for my style and the type of terrain I’m riding, as well as
for the tire itself.

It’s all about finding a happy medium between high/low pressures. I recently met someone who
complained that his Kenda Nevegal tires “sucked” because he didn’t have enough grip. He felt his tires
were garbage and were a complete waste of money. I was surprised to hear this because of how much I
love those particular tires. In fact, I run them on almost all my bikes!

Nevegal

I tried to explain to my new friend that Nevegals are awesome and that I use them on my DH and XC
bikes. Then I did the (decidedly unscientific) “squeeze test” on his tires. WHOA! Those things were rock
hard!
So I asked him what pressure he was running, and it turns out he was at 40 PSI!

For the most part, I rarely pump up my tires over 35PSI; for some race courses I’ve gone as low as
25-27PSI. But for XC riding, I hover around 32-35PSI. Does the pressure really matter? Yes, it does,
and here’s why: mind you, I’m no Enginerd or Science guy but from my understanding it goes like
this…When the pressure is too high, your tire has a smaller contact area on the dirt; also, you’ll find
yourself bouncing way too much. Ultimately, you’ll get the feeling your tire just isn’t gripping as much as
it should/could.

Now the opposite to this would be running your tire pressure way too low. If you run your pressure too
low, you risk riding on the rim, thus causing pinch flats. In worst case scenarios, you may feel as if you
have no traction at all. I’ve had situations where my rear tire had a slow leak and I thought that I should
just ride it until I got back to the car. But this made my back end super loose without traction and when I
took a turn, the tire rolled right off the rim!

Basically, here’s what has worked for me, and it may take some experimenting to figure out which works
best for your tires, terrain and riding style:

25-27PSI-Loose conditions: An example would be a trail that has plenty of gravel, sand, and small rocks
with the base layer anywhere from 2-3 inches below the initial surface. A softer pressure will increase
grip and help eliminate front tire wallowing in the turns.

28-35PSI-Dry/Hard Pack: This type of riding condition could be seen on trails where XC riding is done.
Slickrock may also qualify as hardpack. This is where the dirt or clay is super dry; perhaps it hasn’t seen
any type of rain or moisture for months. With this pressure, you can roll faster and more confidently on
these trail conditions.

Remember to experiment with your tire pressure to find the best solution for you, your trail conditions
and your tires. One thing that I need to remind you is to not go down any lower than 20psi, your rim
(and maybe your skin) will thank you!
bar psi

Airborne on display

Posted by RL Policar On July - 30 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

Here you see the highly coveted, Team Issued Airborne Ranger jersey by MtnBikeRiders.com. It’s on display at Elite Sports in Orange. Ca.
ranger jersey

Up next is Team Racer, Corey Pond and the Airborne Wingman. You can see both, Corey and the Wingman at the Dainese D-Store in Costa Mesa, Ca.
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If you didn’t know, MtnBikeRiders.com Race Team is proudly sponsored by Airborne Bicycles.

Check out what I just read that Olympians are doing.

Bicarbonate, or baking soda, meanwhile helps athletes improve their endurance by preventing the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles. Theoretically, bicarbonate buffers the hydrogen ions in lactic acid, slowing down build-up in the muscles and preventing the ‘burn’ many athletes feel during intense exercise. One down side of bicarbonate is that it can cause digestive problems such as flatulence and bloating once it reaches the stomach.

Read more

Day 1: Downieville

Posted by Albacore On July - 25 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

On July 5th I headed up to Downieville to camp and ride with Dirty and friends for a few days. Since moving to the bay area several years ago Dirty and The Dr. have spent the weekend after the 4th of July riding around Downieville. I joined them for the first time last year. The riding was so incredible that on the way home I was planning this year’s trip.

I had planned out the trip for the last few weeks. Having been let down a bit by the GPS on our trip to Kings Canyon I mapped out my route on just that — a map. I learned early on how to navigate by maps and still prefer them over a GPS device. The one thing a GPS can tell you is how much longer your butt will be numb in the driver’s seat.

I had gotten off to a late start and pulled out of the driveway at 10:30. I had wanted to leave by 8:00. Several detours along the way and I found myself in Fresno around 5:00. This is where my lonesome insanity, reluctance to use the GPS, my glossy-eyed stare at my map, or combination of the 3 led to the development of pressure sores on my backside. “Look, HWY 41 is scenic and is a straight shot north. Why stay on the 99?” I thought. First rule of solo travel is stay on the main freeway. HWY 41 tricks you outside of Fresno as it represents itself as an 8-lane freeway that promises high speeds and long straights. However, just like a tranny in Hollywood, by the time you realize its true nature you’re too far in to turn back without regret.

After 10 miles or so the 41 narrowed to 2 lanes but remained relatively straight and fast. Once I came to the turnoff for HWY 49 near Yosemite I saw the horror of my decision to follow that tranny’s temptation. The next 5,6,7 hours, I don’t remember as I was near comatose, were comprised of twisting 2-lane roads climbing up ridgelines and dropping into historic mining towns that time has passed by. The drive was scenic until nightfall. Then all I saw were shadows as my headlights pierced the trees and danced off the hillsides. Finally, Odysseus reached Ithaca and I reached the campground. At least I had a few hundred songs on my Droid. I pulled into Rocky Rest campground at 11:00 to find everyone had bedded down for the night. I quietly pitched my tent and collapsed into slumberdom.

Priorities in setting up a good basecamp.

The morning came and I loaded the French press [I knew from last year I would be the only one drinking coffee. Savages], filled my Camelback, and prepared my bike; mostly. . In our haste to eat, load up our gear, and hit the road in time to make our shuttle, I forgot to grab my bike’s GPS and the mount for my helmetcam. We got on the 9:00 am shuttle and decided we would hit up Sunrise Trail, then Pauley Creek, lower Butcher, Third Divide, and First Divide. I told Dirty his GPS would have to be my record of the day as well. So what happens? He loses it as we bomb down Babyheads. I have always wondered how people can lose their Garmins on a ride. Now I know why. After scouring about for 20 minutes we found it and continued on. I suffered 2 pinch flats on the way down Butcher. I would find out why later (day 3). It’s a short climb up to 3rd Divide then one helluva fast shot down. Regroup and we hit 1st Divide. Cruise through town, grab lunch, head back to camp, grab a beer, hop in the Yuba River, grab a beer, eat, grab a beer, trade stories, insults, and jokes around the fire, grab a beer, go to sleep, repeat tomorrow.

Sunrise is just under 2 miles and 10 minutes of bliss. Most people see it as a primer for better riding to come. I like it more than most. It is all singletrack under a pine canopy that twists through the trees with multiple switchbacks and little exposure. We hit this trail all three days.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUE33CnhaMk&feature=g-upl

Sunrise dumps out onto a fireroad. You can take the singletrack straight ahead to Butcher. Butcher is such an awesome trail Santa Cruz named a bike after it. Or, as we did this morning, follow the fireroad for 2 miles to Pauley Creek. Pauley starts off with fast, flowy doubletrack. Then you hit Babyheads — a rock section that begs to be ridden at speed. Just be sure to pick the right line. Or, if you ride with Dirty, pick the line opposite of his. From there it funnels you into singletrack that follows the creek with the occasional water crossing. It is fast and a bit more technical than Sunrise.

Babyheads
Hard to admire the beauty as you fly by.

The progression continues. As you exit Pauley you join up midway into Butcher. The lower half of Butcher adds more speed, more exposure, more technicalosity gnar-gnar. And for me, more pinch flats.

Switchback, also good place to replace a tube.

Once you hit the bridge there is a short climb that is the bane of all those full-faced, long-traveled gravity assassins. Second Divide splits off to the left and 3rd Divide rewards those who climb just a bit more. Third Divide starts as an all-out 2 mile singletrack dragstrip. The trees open up to rocky exposure along the river. Although not as much as before, speed still abounds.

You finish up with 1st Divide. Still singletrack, there are fast descents intermixed with short climbs. It dumps you out into town where you are high on the stoke and ready to take the van back up.

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