As a cyclist, the search for newer and better gear is constant — there's always something else out there. Premes, Picks, Promos will highlight both the next big thing and the sleeper deal.
They say thrift is a virtue — to buy what you need at the best price and get the most out of it. Most bike racers, unless they're on the unlimited budget plan (we all hate you), have a bit of thrift built into them. You know what your own "old parts" box looks like. You might need that stuff someday (you won't), so you keep it around. It still has value.
Of course, there's a fine line between being thrifty — not throwing out something before its time is completely up — and being a hoarder. And there's a similarly fine line between being thrifty and just being cheap. Every local group has one guy (or gal) whose gear was clapped out two years ago, but since it works "mostly fine, sometimes," they won't replace it.
I was reminded of the thrift/cheap balance over the last week, when I was again changing a flat on my deep section wheels. For whatever reason, the tires I have on there are glass magnets — I almost plan on flatting when I ride them.
This last rash of flats finally finished off my stockpile of new tubes, so I went into the store to grab a few more. I've been gone for a few months, so I was shocked to see the price of standard tubes with an 80mm valve at $10 each. Ten dollars? Eesh.
I bought one, but I also bought two packages of Park Tool Super Patches. Because even though I get a shop-guy discount, I'm still thrifty (cheap?) at heart. I kept all of those old, punctured tubes around.
The great thing about the Park pre-glued patches is that they are, basically, rubber stickers. Find the puncture, peel the sticker, re-inflate. They're quick and easy. And, in a pinch, if you need to cover a smallish cut in a tire, you can stack two patches and it will do the job.
Some people patch every old tube they have, some don't. But I don't see tube prices going down (standard 48mm tubes are $8 now) at any point. Save a few bucks and grab one of the Park pre-glued kits.
If you're a road tubeless fan, you know that one of the bummers about the technology is the price of tires. Most are made by Hutchinson, and most are about $80 each. Have a bad day and you could be out $150-plus really quick. (Of course, if it's a really bad day, it'll be more like being out thousands.)
Trek introduced a Bontrager-branded tire last year — the R4 Tubeless — that was my favorite of the species. The two sets I had were more durable and smoother than the Hutchinson-branded ones. (Both are made by Hutchinson.)
But the R4 has been discontinued, meaning it's clearance time. As of this morning, there are hundreds still in stock at Trek's Wisconsin warehouse. And since it's clearance time, your local dealer should be able to get them for you at about half price.
I doubt they'll last too long, but if you're into road tubeless, it will be a good way to stock up for way less.
Garmin has, once again, delayed its Vector power-meter pedals. If you've been checking out race galleries from the Spring Classics, you've seen that Garmin-Barracuda is using Vector-branded pedals, but without sensors attached.
That's a dead giveaway that not only is the Vector system not ready for consumers, it's not ready for team riders to test. That means, despite Garmin's assurance that the system will still be out this summer, that we're months and months — if not years — away from a viable power-pedal setup.
This is a line I've maintained all along. Metrigear, the company that came up with the idea and was later purchased by Garmin, toiled on the project for years. That Garmin, an industry heavyweight, can't dial it in says that it's a much, much more difficult concept to execute than originally believed.
They'll get it eventually, but I don't think it will be anytime soon. You'll have to make due with your PowerTap hubs and Quarqs for now. Sorry.
In addition to being GamJams Tech Editor, Bryan Redemske has managed the Trek Bicycle Store of Omaha, is a professional writer and a Cat 3 racer. He drinks a lot of coffee.
Sheesh, some of that stuff is expensive. Good thing you get your frames and wheels at Pro Deal pricing. Wait — you don't? You might want to look at November Bicycles. They've got a new racer-specific model designed to strip unnecessary pricing out of the cost of your new bike. It's like a Pro Deal for everyone.
November Bicycles. Race Smart.