Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Michelin BIB Mousses - Trying them for the first time!

With the planned riding in Romania looking pretty tough with a full mix of terrain, I listened to the lads who've been before and shelled out a chunk of cash on both new tyres and a set of the Michelin BIB Mousses. Ouch said my pocket!!!

Tyrewise, I've stuck with my favourite for the rear, the Mitas EO7 at £45.00, which has been a great all round tyre on the UK lanes and tarmac. For the front I'm gonna try the Mitas C-25 at £45.00, which is more of a mud/sand tyre, so may not last too long on lots of tarmac but then Romania is not meant to be on tarmac at all! I get them all direct from Wulfsport factory in Workington, so just down the road. Lucy went to school with the daughters and her dad used to ride with the founder, small world!

Both tyres have stiff side walls too, which I prefer on the technical terrain, and if I swap back to tubes after our play in the mountains, then they'll protect the tubes better on fast rocky stuff. At least that's my thinking anyway!!

The mousses, I ended up buying the Michelin BIB ones. they are more expensive than a lot of the others, but everyone I know swears by them and has used them for years, plus they get used in all the big race events, so all those elite riders can't be wrong can they???

Sizes wise I matched the two so the rear is a M18 (90/120 - 18) & the front an M15 (80/100 - 21). I got them from two different places although in hindsight next time I will get them from one to reduce any hassle. A lot of the shops in the UK say they can get them but then actually order them in from overseas once you pay, once they get them they are then sent out to you. For me, I had procrastinated so long about them, so when I ordered them I only had a week to go and couldn't really afford any delays.

MyTyres supplied the front via Ebay, it arrived with all the paperwork, some lube and the mousse itself today, £102.00, the rear was a bit different. I ordered it from J. Groombridge on Ebay. I queried the delivery date and got a really quick reply saying they couldn't send it in time, so as I'd paid, they refunded me straight away, leaving me free to go find another supplier. The service from Groombridge was excellent and I will be using them again because of that.

I asked around some of the lads going to Romania with me and was recommended to go to EnduroTyres. Sure enough, they had them in stock and the rear was with me the next day! More great service and a nice lass on the phone too...

The final parts I bought for this was some Stainless Steel Tyre Valves, these go into the rim to protect from water/dirt ingress and also I can add air to the tube on any longer tarmac sections, protecting the mousse a little and potentially making the ride a little firmer too. 

It's all still a test for me never having used these before, so I'm looking forward to finding out how they feel and perform. One thing is for sure, I will be more comfortable hitting rock steps harder on them knowing there is nothing to puncture and will also have to carry less kit with no spare tube, metal work or puncture stuff. All good for the playtime stuff but not as good for the longer road sections when I finish playing, so I'll maybe change back to the tubes after, we'll see...

So next up is fitting them. Now I've never done them before and everyone tells me they are a pig to fit, lots of swearing/sweating etc coming up apparently! As usual, I reverted to YouTube for some 'how to' vids before embarking on this exercise and came across these:

Mousse Fitting Films
Enduro Engineering - A US garage making it look real easy!

RallyMotoUK - UK based rally service place who have loads of experience.

I'll let you know how they faired in reality in terms of fitting! I'm expecting a fight as I don't have a tyre stand or any bead buddies, so we'll see once I cobble together a bunch of kit!

More new toys to play with!!

UPDATE: 01/06/2017 - Actually fitting the things!

So fitted the mousses today, it took plenty of time, especially the rear, but using the methods in the Enduro Engineering film above, it wasn't that much harder than fitting tubes. The front went on really easy, once I'd re-watched the film again and realised I was doing it wrong!

The rear was a bit more of an effort, without a tyre stand, so I had to codge one out of a plastic box. I reckon an old tyre rim bolted to a board would do the same thing if you're tight on cash.

The main issue was getting the tyre to stay on the bottom side of the rimlock when I laid it back down on the floor, so resting it onto a heavy duty plastic tub helped me to get the first tyre lever in a couple of spokes to one side of the rimlock whilst keeping the tyre in place wth my knee. After this the tyre went on fine until I was back round to the rim lock.

Getting two of the tyre levers down into the tyre to get it to sit into the inner part of the rim and help to get the last part of the tyre on was an effort and took almost as long as getting the tyre to stqay on the rimlock. Once I'd got the irons in place, then it went pretty smoothly, although the edge of the rubbber rimlock then got caught under the bead of the tyre, so I had to take that part back off again. Once the bead was seated correctly, then that was it. Done!

For the next time I think I'll try to get a tyre stand and maybe one with a bead breaker just because they really make things easier.

Made in Wales!
The only other thing I'd say is the grease for the mousse is the same size for both the rear and the front, which is not enough I'd suggest. So again next time I'd buy a 5ltr tub of the stuff and lather it on, especially as all the films say how important it is to keep the mousse lubed.

Key advice...
1. Watch the film, try it, then go back and watch the film again and you'll realise what you've missed out!!
2. Check the orientation of the tyre each time you seperate the rim from the tyre. I still mounted it the wrong way round after working it out a least 5 times!!
3. Have plenty of tyre levers, I used 5 this time around, 1 short, 4 long. My favourite ones are in the image below, strong, good bead hook, and nice and long and all for £7.00! Bargain...

Hopefully now I'll have no probs with the tyres or mousses and will just get to ride until the tyres are knackered... we'll see

Update: 11th July 2017
After over a month of using these now, my tyres are almost dead, so I thought I'd write up my impressions so far.

Over all I like the mousses, on the rear wheel the traction is good and the feel is good. The mix of BIB mousse and Midas E07 tyre works well together and they seem to wear well, having now reached Greece, so they have done the harder enduro days with the boys for a week, then the TET through  Romania and Bulgaria. I could be tight and just turn the tyre around to wear out the rear face as I'm still on dry trails and there is about half the depth of tread left, but we'll see.

The front is a bit 'dead' to the feel. It hits thing hard, then bounces over it, but I can't explain the deadness in the feedback to myself, so won't try to here. The Mitas C-25 on the front has been a hard wearing tyre, lasting much better than Gareth's on the hard enduro week, then also doing the same as the rear on the TET.It'll easy do a fair bit more, so I'll look to change it after the Albania section which is next. It does skit on rocky surfaces now and then, which is unsettling, but it always recovers so no harm done so far!

I'll stick to using mousses from now on for the UK green lane use I think, but I'll soon be changing back to the ultra heavy duty tubes for the rest of the TET as I prefer the front end feel for these over longer distances.