Vee Tire Co.
Time flies and we’re well in to the new year now, with many new experiences, races, training plans and most importantly many new smiles on the horizon for sure. Last week was the first new experience for me, a race across three days, on a fat bike, on snow, in the Swiss Alps...
So this was something that was on my calendar for a while and an event that I didn't really let phase me. After all it was only 20 miles a day, how hard could that be?! Let me tell you.
In the week leading up to the event, weather warnings had been issued throughout many parts of Switzerland with high snowfall and temperatures dropping well below freezing, 26 degrees below freezing!! After hearing such reports, to say I was sceptical is probably about right - I mean how many people have seen -26 before, let alone ridden a bike in it!
Well fortunately, the sun shone upon my arrival to the event and the stunning town of Gstaad warmed up just a little. Stage 1 of the Snow Bike Festival began in the centre of Gstaad, with a 5km lead out behind a pace vehicle, taking in many of the snowed over paths and pavements for a picturesque beginning to what was going to be 3 days of hard, hard work!
As the pace vehicle on stage 1 pulled aside, the racing or in my case spirited riding commenced. With a long and steep climb up an icy mountain road, focus was key to making it up without putting a foot down, many riders bunching back up here as it became apparent who the climbers in the group were. Not knowing exactly how hard riding a 4.80” tyre on snow would be, I played it safe and wore several layers to defend myself from the cold (cold of which was freezing beards and water bottles solid alike!) but I began to overheat hugely. Sweating in -16 temperatures shows just how hard my body was working to ride up red ski pistes. Finishing day 1 of the event in a mid field position was a success for me, I couldn't wait to get back to the event HQ for a coffee!
Day 2, stage 2 was then upon us, a slightly longer day in the saddle and a day that would incorporate two large climbs, each about 40 minutes in length. This for me is a long climb, back home in Shropshire I’m lucky to have a 10 minute climb and even then I wouldn't be racing up it! This stage was proving to be a tough one, with 2 energy gels and a banana later, I crossed the line 3 places ahead of day one and would then stand in 24th overall.
The evening of day 2 held an eliminator race and was an awesome addition to the lengthy stages that didn't suit me too much, the eliminator race consisted of a 100m uphill sprint in to a technical downhill. In two minds of whether to race the eliminator or not (due to a rather large lunch) I considered it worth while riding over to the start for a watch, then whilst stood there in jeans and a hoody, my name was called to the start alongside 3 other opponents. Well I couldn't turn down a race could I! Sprinting hard out of the gate saw me hit 1st place in both heats and to then follow that up with a 2nd place in the semi’s. Boom, final time! I was happy to make it this far full stop, perhaps looking slightly intimidating in my causal non-cycling attire the gun was fired and the final started. I was really looking for a solid result in this final but a very poor start with not being able to clip in meant that my three opponents were able to sprint away. Once clipped in, I managed to claw some time back but not enough... I’m confident I could have shown the pro competition who was boss when it came to the eliminator, but now I’ll just have to wait until next year.
Day 3 and I was knackered, the eliminator race the evening before had really finished my legs off. Stage 3 was one that I was just looking to complete and then lap up the incredible atmosphere that the Snow Bike Festival was creating. With only a single long climb, I was basically a passenger on my bike but remained on the rivet for what parts I could. An hour and a half later and the end was in sight, maybe a little deprived of oxygen I ended up missing a direction sign and only a single corner away from the finish I went the wrong way! Letting back past, 4 riders that I had worked hard to take in the final stages of the race. Despite my efforts to claw back those places, I just didn't have the legs to do it and finished the final stage in a respectable mid-field place again, finishing 29th and top British rider in the overall. I tell you one thing, those lead riders have some lungs!
All in all, this experience for me was an eye opener in many, many ways. To see how quick pro marathon riders can be on snow was an inspiration, I’ve already spent hours in the gym since the event last week in prep for the next stage race! Riding in sub zero temperatures at high altitudes really demanded a lot from my body, more than I was expecting and the whole riding on snow thing isn't as easy as it looks or sounds, just trying to keep the wheels straight takes effort, and much more than I thought.
So to say I underestimated just how challenging 20 miles of riding a day could be is about right. Would I do it again, yeah I think so...Bein correctly equipped was so key to making it through to the end and ensuring I could enjoy myself as much as possible along the way. Thankfully I had Sealskinz on my side with the Highland XP glove to keep the fingers warm and dry even in those polar bear climates, not to mention the thick Sealskinz socks and lightweight overshoe to keep the cold off my toes too! Massive thank you Sealskinz.
Anyhow, I hope you’ve enjoyed my run through of the event and maybe I’ll see a few of you there next year - Snow Bike Festival, check it out!!
This time next week, our John will be packing his bags for an overseas, alpine adventure in Gstaad, Switzerland.
The inaugural event in 2015 saw competitors from 20 countries entered, ensuring a genuinely international atmosphere. Europe’s first winter festival of Snow Biking was a heady mix of fun, both on and off the slopes. The second edition will take place in GSTAAD from January 22 – 24, 2016 and will feature a 3 Day Stage Race, Eliminator Night Race, Fun Ride, Snow Bike Party & Fat Bike and MTB EXPO.
Besides action-packed events such as the Eliminator Night race, the Fat Bike and MTB EXPO will also give the key players in the bike industry an opportunity to exhibit to the rapidly growing Fat Bike and MTB market. The EXPO is hosted indoors in a heated venue where exhibitors will be promoting their bikes and associated products to riders, skiers, spectators and the many other day visitors to GSTAAD. If you're in the area, make sure to swing by!
The Snow Bike Festival origins lie in the demand for winter riding opportunities in Europe, where there are few formal events other than one or two aimed at extreme adventurers. With that in mind along with a huge range of snow bike trails, hearty meals and great facilities at the Sporting Centre in GSTAAD, there will be no reason to visit elsewhere this winter! Or next winter for that matter.
Watch this space for more on the event after it has taken place... Just wait for those pictures and turn green with envy!
Click the logo below to view the full 2016 brochure.
Road.cc showing plenty of love towards the VeeTireCo. road range!
Of course we're bias towards our own products, but when those products are in the hands of the journalists and bike tech's we're always waiting with sweaty palms in anticipation of reading their positive and negative comments.
Fortunately for us, we're confident in our products and, well... road.cc does the talking. Below outlines their findings when riding our rubber over the past 6 months, we couldn't be happier!
Rain Runner - £32.99 (£26.99 for a limited time only)
Verdict - 8/10
Ultimately, these have popped some extra sparkle into long, steady autumnal rides, and while I'd opt for something a bit harder wearing for commuting and when the gritting lorries come out, the Rain Runners have lived up to their name, and come highly recommended for training or just high speed fun.
Road Runner - £32.99 (£26.99 for a limited time only)
Verdict - 9/10
Overall the Road Runners are very good tyres, easily matching the ride quality and grip of the Conti GP4000S II and Michelin Pro 4 Endurance models I pitted them against. The price is decent as far as RRP goes. Fast-rolling, supple tyre that offers confidence-inspiring cornering grip, and sensibly priced at RRP.
Apache - £29.99
Verdict - 7/10
Overall the Vee Tire's Apaches are decent performers, especially in the dry. They offer low rolling resistance and loads of grip which lets you keep the pace up on the twisty sections and they're good enough to be raced on. The only real issue is the lack of puncture protection which becomes risky if you are racing or riding in wet weather. If you're only going to use them on your dry day bike I think the sacrifice is worth it for the weight advantage. (For added puncture resistance, there's a Synthesis sidewall option!)
Season over, although it did end a little too soon… This season of racing has been crazy, with some amazing moments and some real rock bottom ones to match. Heading in to the final round of the UK Gravity Enduro series I was excited to return to the venue that has so many times ended my hopes of success. From endurance races to enduro races and even Sunday rides, Dyfi forest has always proved a tough one for me, finding me walking back to the car on many occasions due to the severe nature of the trails destroying wheels, mechs and popping more tubes in one ride than anywhere else!
Sat in 2nd place overall at the start of the weekend, I was confident in securing a top 3 - all I would have to do is finish one stage! Before leaving the pits Sunday morning, I sure jinxed myself by saying that! Stage one was fun, flowing through corners of loam into pretty damn fast and loose straights, I was happy to stay safe and finish the stage perhaps a little conservative, but more importantly, clean.
Stage 2 however, a trail centre…. My mind was elsewhere as I left the start gate, thinking “it’s only a trail centre” what could go wrong? Well, racing a man made trail is considerably different to riding one as I experienced pretty early on. This would be a huge learning curve for me with consequences so great, complacency has no place on the race circuit and no matter how well you think you know something, you don’t.
20 seconds after leaving the start, I compressed hard in to a greasy off camber rock which sent my front wheel in to a stump throwing me over the bars, landing on my shoulder. I scrambled quickly to get back on my bike to find I couldn’t straighten my arm… That was it, day over.
After 4 hours of agonising and breathtaking pain, my shoulder popped back into it’s rightful place, to greet a minimum of 12 weeks of rehab… Crap. Fortunately the season is over but with a trip to Italy planed for the final Enduro World Series race I couldn't be more gutted. Luckily my legs still work but I’m sure I’ll be bored of the turbo after just one hour, let alone 6 hours a week!
Despite the accident, the rest of the Elite field finished and I was eager to see the points tally. I just managed to hold on to 2nd overall in the UKGE ahead of top racer Cal Dew and slotting in just behind the super nice guy Sam Shuksmith. It was a great season riding with all the Elite crowd, my first full season has introduced me to some great guys and I’m already hungry to get back up to speed and repeat my best performances again next year.
I couldn't have achieved so much this year without the support of everyone, Pivot Cycles/Upgrade Bikes, Crank Brothers/Extra UK, SMC Custom Installations, invisiFrame, Sealskins and last but not least VeeTireCo., to have an influence in tyre design is beyond most peoples wildest dreams, I’m super privileged to have such support. Thanks, and I’ll be back next year faster and fitter than ever!
Geoff recently took part in his first ever enduro race, the QECP Summer Enduro, although it was perhaps a little more wintery but hey, he still had fun... Here's what he has to say!
"It’s 8am on Sunday morning and unfortunately the weather forecast is correct, the rain is coming down and shows no sign of slowing down or getting any better in a hurry. In less than a few hours it’s the start of my first Enduro race at the QECP, what a day to give something a go you’ve A: never done before and B: never ridden the venue before. Oh well, here goes.
As we pull on to the QECP venue we’re greeted by the usual motor cade of VW Transporters and pimped out VW Caddy’s. Muddy faces and drive trains thick with mud are common place as the seasoned Enduro riders session the super slick stages, looking to make up any time available for the flat out race run they’ll later embark on. I on the other hand, opt to stay dry under the VeeTireCo. EZ-up and venture out at the last minute in order to stay dry.
The turnout for the day is outstanding despite the adverse weather conditions. Riders of all ages and abilities are all mingling with one another discussing lines, tyre choice and if they’re wearing goggles or glasses. Everyone seems happy to just talk bikes and where they’ve been riding or where they’re off riding next weekend, it’s a real community spirit.
Time ticks on and the elite riders are starting to get ready for the off so think it’s about time to put on my riding kit. I’m not the most colour co-ordinated of riders but don’t really care as in a few minutes all will be a muddy brown colour.
My number is called and I’m in the line waiting ready to go. “Ready….. 3,2,1 go” I’m off, straight into the first transition. A steep mud fest which immediately causes the tyres to fill and the bike to slide sideways. Mud is soon covering the whole bike and has stuck to the front mudguard, causing the front tyre to grind to a holt in one clogged up mess! I’m off the bike in a matter of minutes to take off the mud guard and I haven’t even done my first stage!
Back on the bike the mud is now throwing itself all over my face and my glasses are now steaming up so it’s off with them too, it’s time to embrace a face full of mud for the rest of the day.
Stages go well and I manage to keep the bike the correct way up, even though I look like Bambi on ice I can’t take the smile off my face. The marshals and spectators lining the stages all give out encouragement even though they must be cold and wet themselves. No one passes them without a cheer.
On to the last transition and people are still full of smiles and banter on the way up. Everyone is tired but no one has any regrets about coming out in the rain for a day’s racing. Realising it’s the last stage and the thought of warm clean clothes spurs me on to pedal a little faster. The finish is right opposite the van and the first thing I do is go straight to the timing tent to see how I’ve done.
Well, no surprises that I haven’t won but have finished about mid pack which I’m more than happy with. The elite riders have put minutes in to me and it makes me realise just how fast those boys really are even in these bad conditions.
First enduro done and I have nothing but positive things to say about it. It was so great to feel the friendly atmosphere from all the riders who were all more than willing to help each other out. The marshals and spectators that give up their time to help run the event and give encouragement did a job way above A grade and finally, the event organisers, QECP Collective, what a great bunch of people that gave up not only their weekend but many other weekends and evenings clearing the trails ready for the weekends racing.
Will I do another event? Hell, yes! It’s one of the most friendly competitions I think I’ve ever done!"
Geoff was running the Crown F and Crown Gem combination which can be found here.
The second round of the UKGE in Grizedale saw John Owen take the win, on board a pair of prototype tyres... Shhhhhhh!
"The past month of riding and racing has certainly seen its ups and downs. After having travelled to Ireland to race the Enduro World Series where I claimed a few top 40 stage results I was gunning to get back on “close to home turf” and fight for a good finish at the EWS in Scotland.
Practice was great, with the rain coming down hard over the evenings, I felt well in my element upon greasy roots and rocks on what can only be described as several minute long downhill tracks! Sadly, the first day of racing in Scotland saw me almost take home a top 20 result on Stage 2 but before I could make this a reality, I was trying to pick myself off the ground and decipher exactly where in the world I was.
I took a big tumble only two corners from the end, knocking myself out and sustaining minor concussion as well as a torn muscle that connects your shoulder to the rest of your body! It’s certainly not a nice feeling not knowing where you are but I’m so thankful to my buddy Ed Roberts dad for keeping me calm and taking to be the medics… Unfortunately it was game over for that weekend with 3 solid weeks of rehab awaiting to revive my shoulder enough to allow me to touch my own head!
I’ve always been a firm believer in what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and I definitely learnt from that one… Only a month later, hard work, heavy rehab and utter want, has taken me to achieving what can only be described as a life long dream of mine - to win an Elite level national race.
The last weekend in June saw me truck up north to Grizedale Forest for round 2 of the UK Gravity Enduro Series. The weather was less than favourable for race day, after qualifying in 8th place, only 0.5 seconds back from 3rd (yes times were really that tight), I was determined not to throw another race away with trivial mistakes in the mud… Knowing that my pace has been good all year, I raced hard where I could but remained conservative to avoid any mechanical and at long last everything came together. With a less than perfect day of riding, to say I was expecting a race win would have a complete lie after two crashes on Stage 2. I’m still struggling to come to terms with this achievement and looking at my stage times, winning 3 of 5 stages on Sunday I can say that it’s an incredible feeling to see myself remaining so consistent throughout the day. I just cant wait to ride against the clock again!
This result really has been made possible by everyone that’s been behind me this year. I know for sure that I wouldn’t be in the right frame of mind for racing if it wasn't for the lads at SMC Custom Installations pepping and tuning me in prior to every race with Smith Optics keeping my vision clear. Huge thanks to Upgrade Bikes and Invisiframe for renewing my silky smooth and clean looking Pivot Mach 6. The combination of Crank Brothers (Extra UK), Sealskinz, and VeeTireCo. really have ensured my feet and wheels stay glued in place through all the elements. There’s no argument that this isn't a recipe for a win! Thank you all!!!"
Riding photo cred: Doc Ward
Here's what the experts had to say!
"Rubbing your thumb over the Road Runner from Vee Tire Co when it's in its box, you just know it's going to be grippy – the compound feels practically tacky against your skin. And it doesn't disappoint once you put tyre to tarmac.
The Road Runner comes in three sizes, covering all the options that are required by road riders these days. You get a choice of 23mm, 25mm or 28mm, although the UK website only shows the 23 and 25mm as being available.
Swapping the Vees with a set of the excellent Continental GP4000S IIs on one of my bikes, the Road Runners come up trumps in all areas. At 210g they're a bit lighter than the German brand's, with grip levels to match, and rolling resistance was pretty much identical with some simple roll down tests.
Vee, like most tyre companies, keep the details of their compounds secret, so all I can tell you is that it's called Continuum. In the dry the tyres really grip well and give you loads of confidence to keep banking the bike over. Mini roundabouts and the like can be taken flat out and I've yet to find the tyres' limits of adhesion.
The 185tpi (threads per inch) construction is pretty supple and about the normal thread count for a tyre of this kind. At 120psi (the middle of their recommended pressure range, 100-145psi), they don't feel overly harsh on rough road surfaces, and certainly match the aforementioned Contis and a pair of Michelin Pro 4 Endurance models I've been using.
When the ground is wet there is little change to those grip levels. You've got to take the bends a bit easier, like you would with any rubber, but the Road Runners don't break away without warning or feel skittish.
Puncture resistance is taken care of with a Kevlar belt, and while the majority of the miles have been clear, I did catch the tail end of hedge cutting season with no issues whatsoever. There are a couple of little nicks in the tread from flints and sharp stones, but nothing has made it through to the tube.
For added protection the tyres have Synthesis sidewalls, the composition of which Vee Tire Co have again kept secret. They are supposed to be more robust than the standard option, so I'm hazarding a guess at some sort of reinforcing material. Whatever it is, it doesn't seem to have made the sidewalls too harsh.
Wear rates seem pretty good so far after 400 miles, but I'll keep an eye on them and report back should anything untoward happen.
The Road Runners are folders, thanks to the Kevlar bead which hooks under the wheel rim for a secure fit. As far as fitting them goes, getting them onto a pair of Mavic Open Sports wasn't an issue at all after applying a decent amount of thumb pressure to get the last bit over the rim edge. And you can pop them back off without having to resort to a tyre lever.
Overall the Road Runners are very good tyres, easily matching the ride quality and grip of the Conti GP4000S II and Michelin Pro 4 Endurance models I pitted them against. The price is decent as far as RRP goes, but being able to get hold of the opposition at marked down prices could be a thorn in Vee's sidewall.
Verdict - 9/10
Fast-rolling, supple tyre that offers confidence-inspiring cornering grip, and sensibly priced at RRP"
To celebrate, we're offering 10% all web orders until 5th August 2015! Simply quote ROADCC in the basket and save instantly!
We are looking to give 20 enthusiastic, helpful and constructive riders the opportunity to take part in a very exciting scheme that we have lined up. If you think you have what it takes to work along side VeeTireCo. UK for the next couple of months, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and quote “I WANT VEE”.
We're always looking for ways to improve riders rides, so when we receive testimonials like this, we do open the beers...“For me the Vee Trail Taker ticks all the boxes I need for a XC marathon rear tyre. It has a fast rolling tread pattern with a good balance of speed and grip, the extra volume allows me to safely run slightly lower pressures for better comfort on long events. The sidewalls and main casing have proved to have good cut resistance, even the sharp welsh rock that litters the trails on most of the events I ride has caused no damage to date. The level of grip from this tyre in soft mud also surprised me, the open tread clears well and this also stops the back end of the bike clogging with mud on prolonged boggy sections”“I choose a Vee Fluid up front as I prefer a confidence inspiring tyre that provide grip in all conditions without having to worry too much about what I am riding over at the time. Many of the rides I do are four hours plus and at that duration rider fatigue and small periods lost concentration creep in, not having to worry about front end grip at these times or in any condition is important. This tyre has a durable casing and sidewall yet despite the aggressive tread pattern it still retains a low overall weight and good rolling resistance. The tyres inflated first time with a tubeless sealant system and seated onto the rims easily and at a relatively low pressure. That this price point the levels of grip, durability and low weight that this tyre offers are unbeatable”Thanks, James!