The three rides in a row were I suffered pinch flats on the back of Tibaby became the motivation for the ‘tubeless test’. I was also not happy with how the narrow rims that came with the bike were setting the sidewall of the tire, I could feel the ‘squirm’ in the rocks and on fast sticky corners. Titanium’s unique and forgiving flex modulus and the 9mm QR fork were not helping either, especially trying to keep up with Dick or Jerry in fast and rocky stuff. Too many ‘unintended’ course corrections. I came across a take off Bontrager Duster wheelset on E-bay for a good deal only problem was the front had a 20mm thru axle hub. A bit of online research led to a tech discussion where Big Wheel Mike gave the dusters a thumbs up for XC. A bit heavy but wide and strong . The wheels came with the Bontrager rim strips and were tubeless ready. It seemed like a cheap and easy way to test out the tubeless setup IF I could make the 20mm front hub work without buying a new fork. On arrival I mounted a new Maxxis Ignitor on the back wheel and put it on the bike. I have not had a flat of any kind in 150 miles of riding since. Cool!
A week and half ago I pulled the Blur LT off the hook and rode it out at MDO. Dick and I had a hell of a fast and fun run off Haz(for GOBers anyway!). The torsional rigidity and stability of the fat aluminum tubes and the 15mm Talas thru axle were a shocking contrast to how Tibaby feels. Hmmmm. I run a Hadley hub with a solid aluminum axle on the back of the Blur and I wondered if Hadley made a solid 100mm x 9mm thru axle . Yep, they do so now I had a path to get the other duster on the front of Tibaby.
So what I ended up doing was ditching the dust caps and spacers for the 20mm axle setup and turning up some new spacers that piloted the 20mm bearing bore, just long enough to align the inner 20mm bearing spacer with the bearings and with a 9mm bore for the Hadley axle. I made the contact face of the spacer 20mm in diameter to help resist as much twisting of the wheel between the drop outs as possible. Two rides on the totally tubeless homemade thru axle setup and I have to say, MAJOR improvement. Yah, the wheels are heavier but I didn’t spend an arm and leg. Rode them on Shooters on Sunday thru the chunks and again today down Quarry. Way nicer feel going fast.
The 29er disease started for me after a magic ride on Johns Ellsworth Evolve and I have a feeling that ultimately the bike for me is a 4-5″ travel 25-26lb FS 29er. It’s out there, I have an eye on three versions. Need to sell a few bikes in the fleet!! That will be hard, I love them all!!