Minnesota in February seems an unlikely time and place for anything cycling-related, yet for the past 14-years Quality Bicycle Parts(QBP) has drawn an ever-increasing crowd of shop owners and employees to their annual Frostbike open-house style event. The two-day soiree takes place in QBP’s warehouse just outside of Minneapolis, with seminars and tech classes on the first day, and about a hundred companies showing product to dealers the following day in trade show fashion.
It’s like a much more manageable and cozy version of Interbike, but with cheese curds and down jackets. If you’re familiar with QBP, it won’t be a surprise that a large chunk of product being shown was specific to road, gravel, commuter, BMX, and fat biking - not that there’s anything wrong with any of that. But, there were a handful of mountain bike related bits and pieces found at this year’s Frostbike that seemed worth mentioning. Finish Line
Finish Line has a new tire sealant that is free of latex, ammonia, and adhesives, which the company claims means it won't dry out. Unlike a chemical reaction to seal punctures, Finish Line's sealant relies on Kevlar fibers to form a mechanical seal on holes up to 1/4-inch. The fibers mesh together within a second or two, and create an airtight patch
that should hold strong for continued use.
The sealant itself is non-toxic, weighs about the same as the usual latex versions available, will stay viscous above -10-degrees Fahrenheit, and is said to last the life of the tires it's put into. Available in March in four sizes: 4oz for $8.99, 8oz for $14.99, 1-liter for $39.99, and a 1-gallon container of the stuff is offered to shops for an undisclosed price. As a baseline, Finish Line recommends using about 4oz per 29-inch tire, and closer to 3oz for a 27.5.Michelin Tires
Michelin offered a look at their Wild Enduro tire, which won't officially be released until later this year. The one we were able to take a very quick look at was a 27.5 x 2.4", and looks a lot meatier than the Wild AM that Michelin introduced last year.
Speaking of Wild AM and its 2.35" width, Michelin will offer a 27.5 x 2.8" 27.5 x 2.6" Wild AM this June for $64. Wider Force AM tires are also on the way later this summer for the same price, and if that sounds a bit steep, Michelin is adding a Performance line of the Wild and Force tires in March that is said to be about $15-20 less per tire, depending on size and flavor. Still #26forlife? Michelin is also offering 26-inch versions that should be available as early as March.Teravail Tires
Teravail tires is one of QBP's brands, and is relatively new to the mountain bike tire market. With initial offerings in gravel tires several years ago, they expanded their line to include trail tires late last year. The Cumberland and Kennebec are each a dual compound 60a/52a mountain bike tire that are recommended as a rear/front combo, respectively. Available in 29 x 2.6" or 27.5 x 2.8", they lean towards the plus size section, and both are offered in a Durable or Light and Supple casing.
Both 60tpi casings are dual ply, but the Durable version has a nylon insert for added protection, which is said to come at an approximately 20% weight penalty across the size chart. For example, the 27.5-inch Kennebec weighs 980-grams in Light and Supple, and 1150-grams with the Durable casing. While the company is based in Minnesota, Teravail claims they've done extensive testing in the rocky regions of Colorado and Utah. Available now, both tires retail for $70, or $80 with the beefier casing. Need a little more float for your boat? The 27.5 x 3" Coronado is said to excel in sandy conditions, comes in either a 120tpi single ply casing or 60tpi double ply version, and should be available in April.Mariposa
Though not nearly as sparkly, Mariposa's VitaminaCL is said to work a lot better at improving tire sealant potency than your little sister's glitter you keep stealing. The disappointingly plain white powder is claimed to seal up to 8mm holes, which they say is double the otherwise 4mm max size for regular sealant. Used in a 1/10 ratio of VitaminaCL to sealant, a jar of the stuff retails for $30 and should average out to about 2-liters of mixed tire goop.
Five Ten's new Sleuth slip-on.
In the market for a casual summer slip-on with enough grip to comfortably manual all the way down to the beach? Five Ten's new Sleuth features an almost mesh style top that should be very breathable, and is matched with their Marathon rubber sole, complete with the familiar micro dotty tread pattern and removable EVA footbed. They'll be retailing for $80 at a shop near you sometime in March.
Five Ten Impact Pro
After a few production hiccups, Five Ten's Impact Pro is now available, too. The flats-only shoe features a new Stealth S1 compound with updated multi-dotty tread pattern that's designed to help off-the-bike traction while walking up or down the track. Living up to its name, Five Ten is using Poron in the toe box for impact resistance, which is another version of a malleable material that hardens upon impact. Thanks in part to replacing the old EVS midsole with a polyurethane one, which is claimed to be 30% thinner, the Impact Pro sits slightly slimmer than its predecessors in the Five Ten lineage. Retailing for $160, look for them in either black or camo.