Clearance Is Granted

Clearance Is Granted

It’s been a little over six months since I put together my Platypus:

The animal for which this bike is named looks like God put it together using a bunch of spare parts, and in that spirit I too used as many of my own spare parts as I reasonably could. For the most part, I’ve been quite pleased, though recently I’ve begun to admit to myself the bike could use a bit more tire volume. I’d been using the Bruce Gordon Rock n’ Road tires since I already had them and their all-around nature seemed to suit the bike. However, they’re just narrow enough that you’ve got to be extra-attentive on trails to avoid roots and rocks and other things that might cause pinch flats, and what the hell’s the point of riding a sumptuous bike like this if you’ve got to be attentive? (And don’t tell me to go tubeless. Tubeless is great, my mountain bikes are set up that way, but I’m not going tubeless on a Platypus, I’m just not.) Also, I figured I could use a few extra millimeters of pedal clearance after my hair-raising flip-flop incident.

Rock n’ Road tires are ostensibly 43mm wide, which is about 1.7 American Freedom Length Units (AFLUs). Meanwhile, Rivendell says the Platypus will accept tires up to 2.2 AFLUs, which meant I was grossly underutilizing its capaciousness. (That’s pretentious for “capacity.”) As it happens, some years back I bought several 29-inch mountain bike tires because an online retailer was selling them for like $4 apiece (I don’t care how you feel about online retailers, when you see brand-name tires on sale for $4 each you buy them), and I still had an unused pair. So, in the spirit of using stuff I already have, I put them on the ‘Pus:

I liked them instantly. For one thing, the trails are carpeted with leaves at this time of year, and they’re voluminous enough that I don’t have to worry too much about what might be lurking beneath them waiting to destroy my inner tube:

Not all trail hazards are as obvious as this one:

The also made the bike generally smoother, grippier, and more sure-footed on dirt, as you would expect a larger, knobbier tire, which complemented the overall nature of the bike. And while it shouldn’t matter, the fact that they filled out the frame a little more made the bike look better, at least to me:

Plus, there’s something about mountain bike tires on silver rims that appeals to my classical sensibilities:

I should add that I’d never deployed this pair of tires since the other set I’d tried turned out to be poorly suited for mountain biking around these parts. The center section is especially prone to slippage when you’re trying to scurry up some incline on a singlespeed, and if it’s wet forget about it:

However, for the Platypus, which will see only the mildest sort of off-roading, they’re a very good fit. My only complaint was that they were a little sluggish on pavement. I suppose the correct spare-no-expense choice for this bike would be something like this from designer tire pusher Jan Heine:

Not only is it supposed to roll well on pavement, but it’s also noise-cancelling!

The Fleecer Ridge grips like a knobby when conditions get tough. On pavement, it rolls like a slick tire thanks to its large and strategically placed knobs that don’t squirm and always put the same amount of rubber on the road. The Fleecer Ridge is the world’s first bicycle tire with noise cancellation: The staggered tread blocks create overlapping noise frequencies that partially cancel each other. This feature is so revolutionary that we’ve patented it. Thanks to the superior materials used in its construction, the Fleecer Ridge is one of the lightest tires in its class.

I resent Jan Heine because I don’t want to be the sort of person who buys patented noise-cancelling tires, but I resent myself more because clearly I’ve turned into exactly the sort of person who buys patented noise-cancelling tires.

But enough about all that, I know you’re here for one thing and one thing only, and that’s filthy tire clearance porn. These tires are nominally 2.1s (I suspect they’re narrower than that) and as you can see there’s plenty of room left at the fork crown:

Same goes for the chainstays:

And the seatstays:

In fact I don’t think you’d have any problem getting a set of fenders in there, except for the fact that it’s morally wrong to use fenders with mountain bike tires.

Indeed, the only thing even approaching an issue was that the tires jacked the bike up just enough that it leaned over a little too far when I deployed the kickstand. Fortunately, the kickstand on my other Rivendell (I never thought I’d be typing the words “my other Rivendell,” I have truly arrived) has always been just a tiny bit too long, but not quite long enough for me to go through the trouble of cutting it. So I switched them, and now they’re both perfect:

Anyway, all of this proves the old adage I just made up:

“If you have the clearance, then use it.”

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