|Keep your modern 26er until it wears to the point that you would be considering a new bike purchase and then switch to 27.5 inch wheels. Until that moment, I'd suggest fitting your bike with larger-volume tires in the 2.35" range, which near the performance of 27.5-inch wheels. There are benefits to 27.5, like better roll-over, less tendency to drop into bomb holes, and more consistent cornering, but the truth of the matter is that 26-inch wheels are slipping into extinction, and that there are more and better options for tires, wheels and suspension components for 27.5 and 29-inch bikes. I have a stunning long-travel 26-inch Liteville 301 trail bike that I ride occasionally to remind me of my roots. It still rocks, but I'll have to admit that larger wheels perform better, and there are no downsides now that designers have dialed in the correct geometry. - RC|
|I admire the effort you've been taking to save your pads from potential contamination, but the truth is, there's no need to go through all that trouble. Simple Green and other similar products are degreasers - they shouldn't contaminate your rotors or pads. It's oil and grease that you want to watch out for - things like chain lube, or the residue from the bacon you ate for breakfast that can be absorbed by a pad's porous surface. I once had a customer come into the shop that couldn't figure out how his brand new brake pads got contaminated. We were all stumped, until he returned and sheepishly admitted that he'd figured it out - he'd leaned his bike against his barbecue grill, and the grease trap leaked its contents right onto the rotor.|
Regarding the use of Simple Green, I'm all for it. It's readily available, inexpensive, and effective - I usually buy a gallon jug of it and dilute it in a spray bottle for general purpose bike cleaning. There are stories floating around about people running into issues after they soaked their chains in it for extended periods of time, but those are outliers, and a quick spritz and a wipe down isn't going to cause any problems. In any case, don't worry about removing the wheels and brake pads the next time you wash your bike, and enjoy the few extra minutes that you no longer need to spend on that part of the cleaning process. - Mike Kazimer
|In the EWS series rule book, there are no compulsory items that a rider must carry (except a number board and GPS tracker for the top 180 riders), but there are heavy recommendations and rules against stashing, littering, or handing goods between team crew or friends. Riders must ride self-supported for the duration of the event, and there is often a pit-stop/lunch break at the pits, or food and water stations along the ride. Probably the most overlooked item to carry, against suggestion, is a first-aid kit and emergency blanket. |
The choice of whether or not to take a pack comes usually comes down to the individual EWS event and format. I raced some events in 2015 and, for example, in the backcountry wilds of Colorado packs were in favor, whereas the lift assisted event in Samoens passed through the pits after nearly every stage and packs weren't donned.
The general consensus towards riding with no pack is to eat and drink as much as possible when you have chance, stuff your pockets and bike with useful bit and bobs, and hope for the best. After all, these guys are racing against tenths of seconds; all or nothing is widely adopted strategy. Plus, most of the top riders are so well trained and efficient they could probably complete a whole day racing with no food or water.
I raced the Trans-Rezia pack-less earlier this year, and thanks to a bike with two bottle cage mounts and clothing with pockets, I took water, tubes, first aid kit, passport, money, tools, phone, packable jacket, chainlink, pump, co2 and 7-900 calories of dates and had no issues. Even on long 6-8 hour days there were enough places to grab food and water. - Paul Aston
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