Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Gear Review: Challenge Fango Open-Tubular Cyclocross Tires.

          For a while now, I’ve been looking for a set of cyclocross tires that would be perfect for our local trails, as well as some of the great trail systems across the bridge in Marin. Knowing about the Challenge brand, and their expertise in making some of the best tires on the market, I decided to pull the trigger and purchase a pair of their brand new Fango 33 Open Tubulars. Challenge advertised these tires as the perfect tire for a myriad of conditions and riding styles. I’ve ridden their Grifo’s in the past, and loved them, but felt that I needed a bit more “bite” in some of the loose corners I find myself in every ride.

Handmade Italian Goodness

          “Open-Tubular” tires are essentially a tubular tire without the typical sew-up you find on tubular tires. The 300 TPI tires have the same casing of their Fango tubulars, but fit on your standard clincher wheel. Personally, I threw in a pair of latex tubes to get even closer to the feel of a tubular (warning: latex tubes are featherweights compared to standard butyl tubes, so they are more prone to a flat on rough trails). The true test would be riding these tires on my home trails of shell ridge and on the Diablo Trails
They look good too!

          I’ve been riding these tires for over 500 miles now, and I have never been so impressed with how a tire feels in such a variety of conditions. The open-tubular casing on the Fango’s are insanely supple, giving me better control of the bike on the trails due to the greatly improved ride quality. Unlike a lower TPI count tire, the Fango’s adhered to the trails so well, letting me push through corners at much higher speeds than I would be able to on a 120TPI tire. Another quality of these tires is how buttery smooth they are, even over the eroded and rutted trails that make up a good part of the lower Shell Ridge Open Space due to this drought. 

500 miles of hard riding.

          The Bottom Line: The Challenge Fango tires are absolutely killer! One of the best multi-purpose tires I have ever ridden. From hard pack, loose sand, loamy trails of Marin, and the occasional mud pit, these tires can handle it all extremely well. However, I feel like the Fango’s are more suited for softer trail surfaces, more than the hard-packed fire roads we have in the summer. With that said, the Fango’s will handle our local trails with ease. I have only one word of warning: The Challenge Fango’s are extremely supple tires, with a softer casing than the majority of cyclocross tires on the market. Try to avoid riding on pavement for longer stretches, or you will wear out the center treads faster than usual.

Front Tire Wear

          The Challenge Fango’s retail at $100 per tire. Yes, they are quite pricey, but you get what you pay for. These tires are completely handmade in Italy, with quality that you will feel out on your first ride, all the way to your final ride on these fantastic tires. Plus, the tan sidewalls look so good!

Shred On.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bianchi Infinito CV.

Recently, we were lucky enough to obtain one of the few Bianchi Infinito CV's in a color option only found in Europe, and still handmade in the Italian factory.  Gio has already stated his love for the bike in a review earlier this year, so we'll cut to the chase: This is one of the best bikes Bianchi's has EVER made.

We have one Infinito CV left in the shop in a size 57 equipped with Shimano Ultegra 11-speed and Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels.

Check out photos of this incredible bike below.
The "Countervail" Rear End.

Handmade in Bianchi's home country.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Barn Burner.

There is no doubt about it, Summer riding is here.  Our shop ride group today consisted of Mel, Chris, Darren, and Gio (me).  Meeting early for the ride would prove to be necessary the second we hit the dirt.  The temperature was predicted to top off around 100 degrees today, so we needed to get on the trails quick, before the heat really turned up.

To start things off, we decided to take on Dan Cook, and get some elevation in the legs.  To say the least, this climb hurt more than any of us expected.  We have all ridden Dan Cook numerous times, yet we were not prepared for the amount of pain this climb would put in the legs.  For some reason, the trail seemed steeper than usual (probably due to the heat), making things a bit more challenging for us.  Dan Cook is one of those climbs you love to hate, yet every time you make it to the top, it feels so good.  First climb of the day was over, but you could bet it wasn't the last.
Chris Hammering.
Beautiful Day Today! 
After summiting Dan Cook, we headed out to Wall Point for more climbing, and of course, a blistering descent.  After stopping for longer than we probably should have, all of our legs were feeling like jelly (climbing can do that to you).  Wall Point is one fast descent, with short, punchy climbs scattered throughout, giving our legs little time to rest.  At this point, the heat was starting to kick up, making conditions even more challenging.  The ride had quickly changed from a 'casual' shop ride, to all of us digging deep and giving each other hell.  To get away from the heat, we tore down "Sandy Hill" into the valley of Castle Rock.

The views made it all worth it.

Chris and Darren.
The green is gone, and the Golden Hills return.

Heading down Wall Point.


The valley of Castle Rock Park is always a good place to rest on hot days.  Being covered in shade, especially after being exposed to the sun and heat for the past hour was much needed, and much deserved.  Flying through the fire roads and stream crossings (and almost wrecking once), was a blast.  We took our time as we turned around to head back to the shop, and to suffer up one more climb.  Sandy Hill is a relatively short climb, but is extremely steep, only made worse on top of the fact that we were all exhausted already.

As we finished the final climb, it was all downhill from that point.  The group coasted back to the shop, but not before Chris went head over heels in the Macedo parking lot as we were horse-watching..

Tired, sweaty, hot, and happy to be back at the shop.  We all recovered with plenty of food and tasty beverages, reminiscing over the ride and just how tough this one was.  This was one of the hardest days i've ever had on my cyclocross bike, and the hardest shop ride in recent memory.  Thanks Darren and Mel for suffering with us!

Join us every Sunday morning at 8:30 for our weekly shop ride, and every Thursday at 6:30pm for the off-road evening ride in the Diablo Foothills.