Wednesday, 22 December 2010

getting evangelical about going green

Actually, all I want for Christmas is Green, not Glue.

(At this point a disclaimer is necessary: those of a non-geek disposition should look away now)

It may be coincidence, it may be a sign, a portent - this weekend past in the Kalmthout World Cup, a couple of top riders were seen sporting unusual tub wear. A departure from the norm, from the legions of Rhinos and Typhoons, identically lined up on the start line.

They were the iconic cross clincher from the early 90s - first incarnation with tan sidewalls then black and finally all green. Some dustier shades, some brighter and more fluorescent - all with the same killer tread. It was the tread that did it - ridden by Nick Craig to a National Cross Champs title at Abergevenny when no other tread could manage the slick off cambers, ridden by League stalwarts everywhere when the mud got thick and finally seized upon by imaginative Euros for conversion by Dugast for those courses where Typhoons couldn't cope. Subsequently, as FMB have entered the specialist tub market, Francois has seen brisk business converting Greens too. At least from me anyway..

It was those early Dugast conversions that gave birth to the Rhino - Richard from Dugast saw the market for a specialist mud tread fitted from scratch rather than through a labour intensive cutting and fettling process. And yet for many the Rhino simply hasn't managed to replace the green Michelin Mud as the ultimate mud tread.


Rhinos aren't as good. Fact. I've back to back to tested Rhinos and Greens on both Dugast and FMB carcasses, and on differing courses and conditions. Friends who are experienced riders have compared them too. The verdict is the same - the Greens outperform the Rhinos everywhere and on everything. Rhinos shine in slick, slightly sloppy mud on manicured grass surfaces - standard Euro course fare then. So do Greens, often with better lateral grip in sweeping turns. However as it gets thicker and rougher, the Rhinos continue to perform well but have a tendency to ball up a little and keep the mud a little longer on the tread, reducing grip and spreading more on the bike rather than the ground. The Greens keep on gripping, even better perhaps, but do a better job of shedding the mud quicker off the tread. This was clearly illustrated at a training session with recent Green convert Dave Haygarth (welcome Brother Dave) - his bike shod with Greens was appreciably less covered in surface material than my bike with its Rhinos. OK, we were on different bikes, but mine has arguably better clearances and would not be expected to clog any worse. Scientific? No. Based on years of riding cross and cross tubs? Yes.

So who were the zealous upholders of the faith this weekend? None other than Brother Nys, aided and assisted by former World Champ, Hanka Kupfernagel. Conditions at Kalmthout looked snowy but the course appeared largely mud based, with some frozen slush thrown in. Nys changed onto his Greens after a near wipeout on a tricky left hander that brought down a gaggle of riders the following lap. He changed again, presumably for cleaning purposes but went back onto Greens, upon which he finished the race. It should be pointed out though, that despite the miracle claims made in this post about the qualities of Greens, they may not improve your sprinting ability against a younger, feistier man.........

Cogniscenti have been collecting Green clinchers for a while now and I have a nice selection of old treads in varying states of wear. And here in lies the rub - discontinued for well over 10 years now, the worldwide stock of Green Mud clinchers is diminishing rapidly now, almost to the point of extinction. Rare relics like these reside in select cellars in the cross community, biding their time before the ultimate sacrifice - being cut up to be reborn in new and wondrous form as a Dugast or FMB tubular.


Addendum: No, Michelin Mud 2s do not cut it in anyway, any shape or any form. Period.


Dave Haygarth said...

They even carry nicely ...

Look good in brown ...

But can clash with the "wrong shade of green" ...

Traildog said...

Interesting. I have got to agree Mud2s don't quite cut it. I find they clog up after just one lap. I have never tried the original muds but I'd love to as I'm so disappointed with Mud2s and I'm always being told these are the best clinchers available. Hmm.

Dave said...

Must also agree about the Mud2s, though I did notice that Adam Graig rode them to National Singlespeed Champ win earlier this month and he's also been seen at Cross Vagas using the Jets. But once again these aren't stadard clinchers they have been smelted on to tubular carcasses.

Philip said...

I slightly disagree with your thoughts crossjunkie. My Dugast greens are fantastic in a straight line but nowhere near as quick round the bends as Rhinos. I think it's because rhinos have a tread that gives better lateral grip. The perfect combo is probably a green at the back and rhino at the front on muddy days, but can we vain CXers deal with obviously mis-matched tyres?

I thought Brother Nys kept changing bikes because he couldn't find the right tyres for the day, perhaps if he was less vain he would have found them.

crossjunkie said...

Thanks for the comments...

Philip - you may be right about the spped thing. I rode the Macclesfield Supacross last Sunday - always a fast race as the ground is pretty manicured parkland grass.

This edition was no exception - a slick, wet and slightly muddy top surface with frozen sub surface meant speeds were high. The course uses a lot of fast sweeping and sometimes off camber turns.

Rhinos were absolutely perfect on these fast turns, which were also very slippy in places. I never even once thought of starting on my Greens though I had them on the spare bike if I swapped. My speed through the turns was good compared to those around me - with very little in the way of slips.

We may have proven your case there :-)

Philip said...

I wanted to do the Supacross this year but wimped out for various reasons. At least I'll know what tyres to race for next years edition if the conditions are similar now :)

I want to send my past-their-best greens to FMB to be put onto 30mm carcasses for hopefully the ultimate deep mud tubs. Do you have any magic tips for removing the treads? Also, would you be interested in a group send with Andy W and a few others?

crossjunkie said...

In terms of removing the treads... patience, and more patience. They rip easily if you are too rough with them. Peel away the edge at aspot that looks like it might be coming off the carcass.

Pull them gingerly off in tiny amounts working down and across the tread till you can get fingers right underneath and through to the other side.

Then gently peel off evenly all the way round. Should and could take an hour or so per tread!
Not sure what Andy is doing about retreads - if you get stuck, get back to me.