Sunday 17 April 2011

To the German border and back, a kilogram lighter

Mango at Bourtange
This video was made on Monday afternoon two weeks ago when I rode to the German border and back. I made the journey because we've a holiday customer coming in a couple of weeks who will take this route. I realized I had not ridden it for over a year, and it's important that we keep our routes so up to date as possible.

Bourtange itself is a star shaped fortress and village dating from the eighty years war between 1568 and 1648. At the time it was militarily important and guarded the only road between Germany and Groningen. Now it's a museum.

Willow growing in a reserve
On the way to Bourtange I stopped a couple of times, to eat sandwiches, to take a look at some willow trees, to look at a deserted beach (Monday afternoons in April are not peak times for sun-bathing).

I didn't really need to carry on from Bourtange into Germany, but I thought it would be nice to have a German beer at the furthest point from home before turning around again. However, the owners of the cafe I stopped at had other ideas. It was shut. I've called past the same place several times now, and never managed to get any refreshment at all.

Anyway, that was the furthest I had any reason to ride, so I turned around and headed home again. A 120 km afternoon bike ride, including a trip back in time and to visit a foreign country, a few stops for food and drink and to take photos, and I was back in time for dinner.

German cycle route signs. Those on
the right point towards the
Netherlands, including Bourtange.
The weight loss referred to in the title has nothing at all to do with any of that:

Today I finally got around to taking off the winter tyres on my Mango and putting on summer tyres. Marathon Plus tyres are some of my favourite tyres. I've used the same pair on the front of my Mango all through the last two winters, and another on the rear this last winter, apart from when it was icy and I rode with a Marathon Winter studded tyre. They're fantastically reliable, and virtually impossible to puncture. The whole family has these tyres on at least one of each of our bikes, and in many tens of thousands of km none of us has ever had a single puncture with the Marathon Plus.

They're really great tyres... but... you can probably see where this is going. Having to fix a puncture in the middle of winter is downright unpleasant. I'll put up with a slightly heavier / slightly slower tyre to avoid this happening.

The pub with no beer. Again.
However, it's not winter any more ! I've taken off the heavier, slower tyres off and put narrow Continentals on the front and the reliable and fast folding version of the Marathon Racer on the rear. Including the inner tubes, this combination weighs just under a kilogram. The three Marathon Plus tyres and their inner tubes came to more than 2 kg. This kilogram different is not just static weight either, but rotating weight, all of it near the outside edge of the wheel. Reducing this makes a big difference to acceleration.

Lighter, faster tyres are more fun to ride with - just what's needed for summer cycling. It's like having a new, lighter, faster bike, every spring, and best of all this comes free of charge.

You have to replace tyres eventually, when they're worn out. All I've done is to have a second set which I use for warmer months. The tyres which came off today will go back onto the bike next winter, as again I'll to looking to avoiding the possibility of fixing punctures in the snow.

There now seems to be a huge difference in sidewall construction between the wire bead and folding versions of the Marathon Racer tyre.
Read my review of the Sinner Mango Velomobile.


Mark W. said...

Great ride! Sure beats a Monday afternoon at the office. And a kg lighter on just tires... I had no idea that was even possible.

Frits B said...

"At the time it was militarily important and guarded the only road between Germany and Groningen."
What people like to forget that the fort was built originally to prevent Groningen from receiving supplies, as the town sided with the enemy and continued to do so until 14 years later, in 1594, it was captured by the Dutch rebels. The purpose of the fort then changed 180 degrees so to speak.

The same structure is found in the town of Coevorden, some distance south of Bourtange, and on a much larger scale in Naarden near Amsterdam. There were more but most of them were dismantled in the 1850s as they had lost their purpose. Bourtange and Coevorden were in fact useless shortly after their completion. But the works still look impressive.

Paul Martin said...

Fabulous film, David. Thanks for taking us on the ride!

I liked the music. The start of the first song sounded like it was related to the warning sirens - I thought they'd overtaken all radio waves! I presume that was the intent of that choice of song? :)

While I do enjoy going up and down hills in my Mango, I'd really like to just cruise for hours. I'm thinking about riding down to the Gold Coast in the Mango - 110km ride - and then heading home. No cycle paths sadly... all backstreets.

Severin said...

What was the name of the first song? I liked it. Also, loved the video/post. I am glad I found your blog when I did though I wish I could remember how I found it...

Also, noticed the changes on the sidebar: "the positive stuff" and "negative stuff"– Cool!

Neil said...

Over a kilo less - wow! I know it's 3 tyres but wow!

The Dutch road that leads to the border - what are the dashed lines at the edge of the road? As shown in the cover shot of the video.

David Hembrow said...

Neil: Those dashed lines just show where the edge of the road is.

Wilfred Ketelaar said...

I've also exchanged the tires of my bike this sunday. The 3 Perfect Mooires are still good enought for coming winter. Now I have 2 Kojaks and a Big Apple. The Kojaks were very easy to mount, the Big Apple was a bit more difficult, but nog big problem.

Btw. The bridge you crossed (the tall red one) is in Stadskanaal where I grew up. I've also made a video where it 'stars'.

Micheal Blue said...

Dave, thanks for posting the video. Yeah, it looked like a great ride. I love nature, so the ride through the forest was especially beautiful. It's nice to see videos like this, because here in Canada things look very different. Speaking of tires, what tire would you say would be a good summer tire for riding also on unpaved roads (we have plenty of those here)? The surface is packed soil in some places sprinkled with gravel/loose soil. Thanks.

David Hembrow said...

Michael: I think the Marathon Racer might be a good choice on all wheels. That's what I've got on the rear of my Mango. It's fast, but reasonably wide so a bit more comfortable and will manage better on less good surfaces.

Otherwise, if you have adequate clearance for it, the Big Apple is also an excellent tyre.

Oh, and the music comes from a game: Jet Set Radio for the Dreamcast. The first track is "Mischievous Boy" by Castle Logical, the second is "Bout the City" by Reps. Riding through the countryside quickly has some similarity with a computer game.

Neil said...

@David - I notice you don't mention the weights of the tyres on your shop pages or that is one of the advantages in comparing the tyres. Is that a possibility (for the tyres you have measured)?

David Hembrow said...

Neil: You make a very good point. That information mostly isn't there. Perhaps it should be, and I'll add more weights in future, at least where it seems relevant. First I'll explain why I left it out.

I'm not trying to hide anything. I only included weight where the lack of it was a particular reason why someone might be interested in a particular tyre.

Weight isn't everything. In fact, sometimes it's completely irrelevant. When winter is on the way back again, I'll get back out the same heavy Marathon Plus tyres and put them back onto the Mango.

All of the tyres, and anything else, in the webshop are good products which I would use myself. However, sometimes the advantages of one product are not the same as the advantages of another. If I were to make it easy to compare tyres only according to weight, I think that would give rather an incorrect impression of why you should consider buying one tyre or another.

For instance: No-one would buy Marathon Plus tyres because of their weight. In this case, the advantage is durability and puncture resistance. The Big Apple's advantage is mainly in comfort. A customer considering something like a Durano probably is interested in the weight, but you shouldn't expect great ride comfort or durability.

I'll never fit Durano tyres on our town bikes. While their lower weight and rolling resistance would perhaps make our trips to school, shops, friends etc. a bit quicker, durability and puncture resistance are preferred over everything else - both in summer as well as winter.

Now that there is a fairly wide range of tyres on the site, I'm thinking of splitting them up into groups depending on usage and adding some explanation of why you'd pick one over another. For the faster group of tyres, I guess people will be interested in the weight.

Some tyres may seem conspicuous by their absence. The Marathon Supreme, for instance, is a tyre which I've tried but did not like. It's fairly comfortable, and reasonably puncture proof, but both expensive and slow. I felt I couldn't really recommend it.