Car Less Ohio

Promoting the bicycling lifestyle in The Buckeye State

Tag Archives: postaweek2011

Product Review: Michelin Pilot Sport 26×2.3 Tires


I use an Xtracycle cargo for most of my bike commuting and errands. Last year, I experimented with using the Xtracycle attachment on an old hybrid bike frame that uses 700C wheels. The Xtracycle is designed for 26-inch wheels, but it can be made to work with 700C wheels. It won’t work with 29er tires. I ended up using a Schwalbe Marathon 700×32, and it worked well with just enough clearance within the Xtracycle frame. You can read more details about this setup in the post I did for it on my company’s blog.

Something about a cargo bike, though, just demands the confidence-inspiring look and feel of a nice, fat tire. Earlier this year, I decided to put the Xtracycle back on my old Diamondback Zetec Comp mountain bike frame, and I set about looking for a pair of worthy tires. My first thought was the Schwalbe Big Apple 26×2.35, but I came across the Michelin Pilot Sport 26×2.3, and decided to give them a try instead.

The Michelin Pilot Sport is a bit of an anomaly in the bike part world–a 26-inch, extra-wide tire with a smooth tread and a lightweight folding bead. The advertised weight is 725 grams each. The actual weight is always more than what is advertised for bike parts; I did weight one of them to see how the actual weight stacked up, but all I recall at this point is that it was close enough to have nothing to complain about. The tires mounted easily to my rims.

The tread is reinforced with Protek HD for durability and puncture-resistance, but I have to confess that I am “cheating” a bit by using thorn-resistant tubes, which probably negates the light weight benefit of the tires. I don’t tend to have a lot of problems with flats (knock wood), but I’ve had one flat on the rear tire of my Xtracycle in the past, and it’s a real pain to deal with, so I figured it’s worth the extra weight to minimize this possibility in the future.

The Michelin Pilot Sport tires didn’t disappoint me with the stout look and feel that I was hoping for. They’ll take up to 58psi, which doesn’t sound like a lot for a tire meant for pavement, but the smooth tread combined with the high air volume provides just the right balance of zippyness and cushion that you want in a utility bike. The tread is quiet and doesn’t feel like it’s dragging you down. The grip is excellent; even with a load of groceries, I feel like I can lean into corners with confidence. There is a reflective stripe on the sidewalls for a little extra safety.

I’ve been using the Michelin Pilot Sport 26×2.3 tires for about a month now in the wide range of conditions that Northeast Ohio weather has blessed us with–dry, rain, snow; mostly on pavement, but occasionally on gravel and dirt trails. I highly recommend them for anyone looking for a fat, comfortable, yet efficient tire. If you don’t have a cargo bike, they’d be excellent for converting an old mountain bike into a commuter bike, or as replacement tires on an old beach cruiser.

The suggested retail price of the Michelin Pilot Sport 26×2.3 tire is $49.99. It’s not an item you’re likely to find in stock at most bike shops, but ask if they can special-order them for you. If you’re looking for something similar at a more economical price, try the Serfas Drifter 26×2.0 tires for about $32 each–they are what I used on this bike previously, with great success.

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A perfect storm of tagging

This morning, I did a quick 5-mile ride around a loop consisting of some local neighborhood streets and two local bike/hike trails, the Old Hickory Trail and the Center Valley Trail. The weather was perfect for a nice, long ride, but due to other plans, I had limited time to ride, and got this ride in to continue my participation in the 30 Days of Biking challenge.

A geographically-dispersed group of software developers, known as Automattic, are the people behind the platform known as WordPress.com, which this blog uses. They’ve planned an event, dubbed the Automattic Worldwide WP 5K, encouraging all of their staff to run, walk, or bike at least 5 kilometers today. Other WordPress bloggers and any other interested friends were invited to participate. My ride today qualifies as my contribution to the worldwide effort.

Another WordPress.com promotion started at the beginning of this year, and was aimed at getting bloggers to blog more often. I’ve been trying to participate in “Post-A-Week 2011” and have been successful so far, although some more ambitious bloggers are doing “Post-A-Day 2011.” This post lets me mark off the notch for this week early for a change.

Ohio Bike Trails in the News

The long-awaited arrival of spring weather in Ohio has been accompanied by several recent articles in the news that have given many suggestions and encouragement for cyclists to get out and ride. Here are just a few.

A Mansfield News Journal columnist talks up his favorite bike trails in the Central and North-Central regions: http://bit.ly/ie6NsY

A Dayton Daily News story highlights the many bike trails in the Miami Valley region: http://bit.ly/gWu0p0

The Dayton Business Journal notes how the availability of trails and other facilities has made bike commuting a popular and viable option for many in the city: http://bit.ly/gAVD6U

An internal Defense Department article describes the daily bicycle commuting regimen of one of their Cleveland staff: http://bit.ly/hbF5J5

Several Yahoo! Sports contributors offered suggestions for trails and routes for riders of all types in and around Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati.

The Plain Dealer of Cleveland notes how it was likely the good weather, and not so much the continued availability of park staff, that brought cyclists and other trail users out in Cuyahoga Valley National Park gets its day in the sun after federal budget crisis solvedhttp://bit.ly/icKHHl

Take the 30 Days of Biking Challenge

Hopefully, you’ve heard about this already, because if you didn’t start yesterday, it’s too late to join the worldwide movement and sign up to ride every day for 30 days! Why? Just to prove you can! To motivate yourself to ride more this year! To motivate your friends and neighbors to ride more! Just for fun!

All you have to do is ride your bike every day in April. It doesn’t matter how much you ride each day–do a short spin around the block just for the sake of riding! If you can ride to work or school, do a long training ride or group ride, all the better!

Sign up to let the world know that you’re in: just go towww.30daysofbiking.com and fill out the online form. If you use Twitter or other social media, post daily updates on your daily biking experiences. Use the hashtag #30daysofbiking to automatically include your updates in the worldwide feed! Also, see the 30 Days of Biking page on Facebook!

Yesterday, I got started in the spirit of “around the block just for the sake of riding” by taking a short break during work to test-ride the Raleigh XXIX singlespeed mountain bike with belt drive. Today, I took a road loop on the Surly Cross-Check around Twinsburg, Aurora, and Bainbridge Township, for a total of 26.5 miles. I plan to ride to work tomorrow, so I’m off to a good start on the 30 days.

Public Bike Meetings in Akron and Kent

The Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS) agency is holding public meetings in order to receive feedback on the draft Summit/Portage County bike users map. The map can be accessed here.

Two meetings in two locations are scheduled:

April 13, 2011, 6:30pm
Highland Square Branch Library
807 W. Market St.
Akron, OH  44303

April 27, 2011, 5:30pm
Kent Free Library
312 W. Main St.
Kent, OH  44240

Stark Cycling Center thrives, expands

Founded less than a year ago, the Stark Cycling Center bicycle co-op, located in Massillon, is moving to a new, larger space. Read more details in this article from the Canton Repository. The Center can be reached at 330-689-6376 or starkcyclingcenter@gmail.com.

People for Bikes – Sign the Pledge

The National Bike Summit has just concluded yesterday, where hundred of cycling advocates from around the country visited our representatives in Washington, DC to talk about the benefits of cycling. This kind of work is slow to see progress, but I’m glad there are people out there who have the time and dedication to do it.

If you’re like most people, you’re probably thinking, “I’d like to help, but who has the time?” Fortunately, there are two things you can do to help, even if you don’t have the resources of a full-time, or even part-time advocate:

  1. Join your local bicycle advocacy organization or cycling club. Even if you don’t have the time to devote to be actively involved in the organization’s activities, the act of your joining means one more name on the roster, and numbers mean a lot to local officials when they make decisions. Plus, the 15 or 20 bucks of your annual membership fee helps a lot for all of the organization’s little expenses that add up, like web hosting fees and photocopying. And who knows, you may end up making a new friend or riding partner in the meantime.
  2. Sign the Pledge at peopleforbikes.org. This organization hopes to raise the profile of cycling on a national level by showing the world just how many people care. You are welcome to sign the pledge whether you ride on the roads, or are a mountain biker, commuter, or ride just for fun. Over 200,000 people have already made the pledge. It’s easy, it’s free, and it makes a difference.

Google needs our expertise on biking around town

Last year, the cycling community was abuzz with the news that Google had implemented the Biking Directions feature in Google Maps. Rather than try to re-hash the issue, I’ll just let you read this guest editorial written by Rob Allen for Bicycle Retailer & Industry News magazine:

I am proud to know the best way to get around my neighborhood, by bike. Not all these routes are obvious. If I were visiting your town, I’m sure you would lead me on the safest, most pleasant bike route, wherever we might go.

Fellow bike riders: We have valuable expertise. Google Maps has a new feature, providing directions by bike. This will be a very useful tool one day, after it has received our input. Google doesn’t have enough digital data to provide the best routes to use by bike. We need to use our extensive local bike knowledge to update their limited information.

When Google introduced Google bike earlier this year I tested it on three slightly obscure routes and it failed three times. A few weeks later I returned and found that one of the routes had been corrected!

Google bike is in “beta,” which means we can update it. We must!

Go to maps.google.com. Click on “get directions.” You will see a four-part menu bar providing auto, bus, pedestrian and bike icons. When you click on the bike icon and put in your departure and destination locations Google will provide a recommended bike route. If you think Google has this wrong, then you can correct it. You will see the notification that “bicycle directions are in beta.” At the bottom of that paragraph, click on the blue “here.” This will allow you to correct the bike route directions by following Google’s instructions. Here’s how it worked for me:

I updated two routes in my neighborhood. Very quickly I got two Google no-reply e-mails, acknowledging my input. A little later I got two more e-mails informing me that my updates were correct, confirming that Google would correct the Google maps site. These e-mails also promised a third pair of e-mails when the site was updated. About three months later I got the final e-mails confirming that the site had been updated. I checked to be sure and it was.

This is an easy process, though it take some time for Google to do the update.

Check it out. Correct it where needed.

Google bike will be a fantastic tool when it contains our collective industry knowledge.

Rob Allen is the territory manager for Northern California and Northern Nevada for Raleigh America. He can be reached at r.allen@raleighamerica.com.

In summary, Google Maps Biking Directions may not be perfect yet, but it will only get better with the help of the experts, i.e. US! I’ve submitted a couple of corrections myself, and the process was pretty much the same as Rob described.

If you’re curious about the details, in one case I had mapped a route through some of the western suburbs of Cleveland, and Google Maps had route some portion of it on bridle trails in the Cleveland Metroparks. While the Cleveland Metroparks does have an extensive network of multi-purpose trails for biking and walking, bicycle are not permitted on the bridle trails. I told Google about this, and they updated their data to avoid this problem.

In another case, I was looking for the best way to get from Newton Falls to Ravenna, Ohio, and Google Maps directed me through the Ravenna Army Ammunition Plant, which is closed to the public. I got the e-mail notice that Google will be investigating this issue; however, if I pull up the same route again, it still has the incorrect route, so the data has not been corrected yet.

Columbus mayor continues commitment to Bike City USA

In last year’s State of the City address, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman outlined his ambition to make Columbus “Bike City USA.” In this year’s address, the mayor reiterated that commitment, with references to past accomplishments and future plans for bicycle-friendly infrastructure. You can read the full text of the speech on NBC4i.com.

On the road again

I did an indoor trainer session on Tuesday of this week, and planned to get another one in Thursday morning. When Thursday morning came around, the bed just felt too warm and cozy, so I decided to put off the trainer session until Friday.

Thursday evening, I noticed that the weather forecast was looking pretty good for Friday, wither temperatures expected in the low 50’s, so instead of getting on the trainer, I thought it would be a good day to start getting back in the habit of riding to work.

Come Friday morning, that 6:30am inertia starting feeling hard to overcome again, both when it came to riding to work and getting on the trainer. But, I figured taking a real ride outside was the lesser of two evils, so I got my bike, riding gear, and change of clothes organized. As soon as I headed down the driveway, I was very glad I made the decision. The sun was shining, and the air was crisp and cool, but not too cool. The snow and ice had pretty much all melted from the sides of the roads, as well as on the short stretch of bike path that I take out of my neighborhood. The only real inconvenience was the layer of silt and pebbles that collects on the sides of the roads during the winter.

On my way down Route 91, it occurred to me that had I done the hour-long workout on the trainer, then I would have spent a half-hour driving to work, then another half-hour driving home from work. Instead, I was spending an hour riding to work, and an hour riding home from work–two hours total in either case, plus I was getting the added benefit of double the amount of exercise time.

During the day at work, several people commented that it was supposed to cool off considerable by the evening. Since I ended up being actually a little too warm during the morning ride in, I figured I was okay; I’d either be dressed just right or just a little cold. In the end, the temperature during my ride home was a couple degrees higher compared to the morning. It was pretty windy, though, but I was lucky enough to have the wind in my back during the first half of my ride east on Route 303. When I made the turn north on Route 91, the crosswinds knocked me around a bit, but nothing too terrible.

I was surprised when I actually made it home during the last remnants of daylight, another encouraging sign that true spring weather is just around the corner.