|I usually try to put everything I might need on my bike rather than carry it in a backpack, starting with the idea that it'd be perfect for short rides but now running the same setup on some pretty long adventures. Yes, the overall combined weight of myself and the bike doesn't really change, and it can actually be more inconvenient than reaching into a bag to grab a tool or tube, but it just feels nicer to not have a backpack on. Also, the tools and supplies are always there when you need them - you literally can't forget them at home. There are some easy solutions to carrying what you need. Specialized's EMT multi-tool bolts to the bottom of their Zee bottle cage, and it includes a flat-blade screwdriver, T25 torx, 3, 4, 5 and 6mm hex keys, as well as a clever 8mm that's been chopped down to only the bare minimum to take up as little room as possible. I've found the tool bits to fit a bit sloppy, to be honest, but it's fine for on-trail adjustments. It doesn't include a chain tool, but Specialized also makes a nifty version that's part of headset preload assembly. Again, it's not shop quality and it's a little finicky, but it gets the job done, which is exactly its intentions.|
When it comes to air, I prefer to bring both a small pump and a C02. I save the latter for myself because I'm an a*shole like that, but the pump is for everyone. SKS makes a nifty carrier for both that fits under your bottle cage, carrying the pump and C02 on either side. Attaching a tube to a bike is a little trickier and not nearly as clean looking, though. I fold up a tube so it ends up being a nice, tight little rectangle, and then I use a ski strap to hold it onto my bike. The strap, which is basically a short, plastic belt, costs only a few dollars and is way less ghetto than using tape. You can even stuff some tire levers in there as well. The alternative to all of the above is, of course, a saddle bag, although I know many riders who are too proud to be seen with one under their seat. There can also be clearance issues with your rear tire buzzing it when your seat is lowered.
With all of the above and one bottle on the bike and another in the back pocket of my Race Face STASH bib shorts, I can be out for three or four hours without a backpack. Weather permitting, of course, as warm temps require more fluids, and questionable weather might call for a jacket on the descents but not on the climbs, which is where a pack comes in handy. Some of those ideas won't work for every rider, but you can use them to come up with a solution that works for you. - Mike Levy
|First off, I'd recommend against riding very far until you have this resolved. Those "handling problems" you mention could cause serious injury, especially if your tire rubs the fork hard enough to stop the wheel from spinning and tosses you over the bars. Depending on your mechanical abilities I'd recommend heading down to your local bike shop to have them assess the situation, but in the meantime here are a few suggestions you can try at home.|
Although it sounds like you already spent some time checking over your wheel, my initial thought is that the front axle could be broken, something that's more common when combining a disc brake with a quick release axle. Take the wheel completely off the bike, and give one side of the axle a tug. If it's broken, you'll probably end up with a snapped piece of steel in your hand and a bunch of greasy bearings on the floor, but at least your problem will be solved.
Another possible reason for this problem is if the quick release is slipping in the dropouts, either due to a faulty quick release or from dropouts that have become worn and wallowed out. With the wheel still on the bike and the quick release secured, stand on the left side of the bike and give the wheel a firm tug towards yourself. Is there any movement? If the dropouts are worn, or if the knurled part of the quick release isn't gripping as firmly as it should, then the force generated when applying the front brake could be forcing the axle to shift downwards, which would cause behavior you described.
If the wheel's not to blame, then an issue with the fork, possible extremely worn bushings or even a cracked or broken arch would be my next guess, but in any event I'd imagine a trip to your local bike shop will still be in order, either for the parts or service necessary to get you safely riding again. - Mike Kazimer
|I spent a day testing tires with Michelin earlier this year and discovered there is far more to their development program than weight savings alone. Some of the prototypes are lighter than production tires for sure, but there are plenty of other things they test and try. Everything from rubber compounds and carcass thicknesses to different plys and tread patterns. After these basic elements, things can start to get really complicated. Some of the tires have a dual compound and then you have the two main compound types available to the consumer - the softer Magi-X and marginally harder Gum-X - that's four different types of rubber and each of these compounds can have different rebound speeds within the rubbers properties used.|
Engineers and riders also try to figure out how the thickness of different rubber plys work with each other as the friction created between the layers can give a different feel and level of support, which then has to be compared to pinch flat and cut resistance. Tread patterns change rolling speed, braking traction and cornering grip, but then these are also affected by all of the above as well. Oh, and then there's rim width, tire pressure and rider weight to take into account on top of all that... It's really interesting to see how much testing they do with their athletes and it seems to be helping them get back into the game after their Comp 16 glory days. - Paul Aston
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