How many times have flat tires derailed someone’s chance at a UCI round victory? Why isn’t there some kind of foam insert like they have for ATV tires? I get that it would increase weight a bit but isn’t that a small trade-off rather than getting a DNF?

-Tom Collate



Tom,


We have often asked ourselves this same very question. It seems there are several companies out there (Flat Tire Defender, Cush Core, Huck Norris) who are taking the emerging demand pretty seriously. We suspect in a few years every racer will be running an insert of some sort.


We actually recommend googling each brand up and giving their unique approach to the problem a look. Surprisingly, not all inserts are created equal, nor do they accomplish the same goals. Huck Norris for example is a thin insert that hugs the bead and is the best defense against pinch flats while Flat Tire Defender is closer to the ovalizied foam tube we often associate with power-sports applications.




Karl,


Your thinking would be correct about a large variance upsetting a frame’s natural geometry except for one fundamental misstep: The designers are literally building the frame to accommodate these travel numbers. If you think about it, we’ve been experiencing suspension mismatch with every single hardtail ever built. As demonstrated there, so long as this is taken into account when laying out the frame, there are no concerns of a lopsided ride.


That being said, the trend seems to have been born from the logic that the fork could benefit from a little additional travel since it is literally hitting trail clutter, divots and terrain changes head on (the rear wheel will always follow the front). Plus when you realize that today’s linkages are so smart, designers can actually compensate for a lower initial travel number by tweaking the leverage ratios to match the feel of the fork.







Dear MBT:
Why is it since carbon fiber frames became all the rage, we’re getting fewer and fewer cool metal options (like titanium and scandium and even steel). Now it seems like it’s either aluminum if you still prefer metal or carbon fiber.

-Jimmy Altor




Jimmy,


That’s not your imagination, it seems as though carbon fiber has eliminated the need for expensive and exotic metals in frame production. The reason? Greater control at less cost from a manufacturing perspective. Testing continues to surprise engineers with just how incredible the strength to weight ratio of carbon can be. Plus unlike metal, carbon fiber can be fairly effectively patched in the event of a failure. We’ve heard it said that if not for the cost savings passed on to the consumer by sticking to good old fashioned aluminum, that material too would have been extinct by now. Such is the sad reality of the endless forward march of technology.





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