Two Years of Racing on Compass: Interview with Matt Surch

“What tire pressure do you run? And how much do you weigh?”

“I weight about 172 lbs in the spring… up to about 177 lbs during the season. I used to run 50 psi rear, 47 front on the Bon Jons, but now I tend to run closer to 40. I spent a week in South Carolina riding big climbs and fast descents, and settled on about 55 psi in the 32 mm tires, which felt fantastic in the turns…”

Off The Beaten Path

Long-time Bicycle Quarterly reader Matt Surch (above) put his name on the map when he won last year’s Steaming Nostril gravel race on Compass Bon Jon Pass tires. We checked back in with him to see how the tires performed in the year since then, and to hear about his road racing on Compass Cayuse Pass tires.

JH: With another season of riding and racing on the Bon Jon Pass tires, how do you feel about them?

Matt Surch: Frankly, the Bon Jons have been exactly what I’ve been hoping for in a gravel tire. This comes down to two key aspects: 1) volume – 35 mm is perfect for so much of the riding I do off paved roads. 2) tubeless – I love this format for its road feel and flat resistance. One of the things I’m really enjoying with the Bon Jons is that they are perfect…

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What Is a Road Bike?

Off The Beaten Path

In past decades, there was little doubt about what made a “road” bike: narrow tires, drop handlebars, no fenders.

Then randonneur bikes were re-introduced into cycling’s mainstream, leading to some confusion. “That is a touring bike,” said many. “It has a rack and fenders.” But the performance of the randonneur bike is the same as that of a racing bike, and far from a touring bike. Basically, the randonneur bike is a racing bike with integrated fenders, lights and a small rack. (The geometry also has been tweaked to carry the load.) If you take the meaning of “road bike” literally, a randonneur bike fits it at least as well as any other bike.

And then along came wide tires, and suddenly you have a bike like the Open U.P. (above) or my Firefly. “It has 26″/ 27.5″ wheels and fat tires. It’s a rigid mountain bike with drop bars,” 

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Corner Entry (Line Building…)

A BrakeSteerTurn© series analyses of Richie Portes Stage 9 crash.
First off, though it was a serious crash, we’re glad that Richie will be okay in due time. With a long and arduous recovery, surely he will return to form at some point.

Every corner has an entry, an apex and most importantly…an EXIT.  The ability to get the bike slowed enough to match the corner’s radius is paramount to a good, efficient exit. (Remember, radius determines speed)

Analyses
Approaching a corner, a riders focus (in fractions of a second) shifts back and forth trying to
manage entry speed and varying braking pressure, while negotiating the geographical layout of the corner(s) or course. Subsequently, speed is sometimes hard to judge when it is constantly changing.

This is why it is SO important to go through the progressions of; Setting up for corner entry, being on proper line, braking (if any is needed) then focusing vision on and past the exit. Entering a turn, a riders primary objective should be to take the proper line and how much speed a they can maintain, not how much they need to slow. If a rider gets entry right, then 99.9% of the time, corner exit will be spot on.

Though the video is not so clear, we can see that Porte was off line for the left-hander in which he ran off. So the question is why was he off line? Well, we can speculate, but the most likely reason was that in the previous corner, he was off line as well. In all probability, he had entered the previous right hand corner to early, which put him out a bit wide on the exit of the right-hander, which subsequently, pushed him to the very inside of that left-hander, entering it way too early.

One of the problems with ‘blowing’ or ‘muffing’ a corner or series of corners, is that if you get one wrong, you’ll typically get the next one or two corners wrong as well. When corners are strung together in a short series, a rider cannot recover in time to be on the proper line. This is why it is critical to ‘line build’ as a rider goes through a corner or series of corners. Especially when the road or course is narrow, there just isn’t a lot of wiggle room. Mid-corner corrections are sometimes possible, but not on narrow winding roads, when speeds are high.

Summary/Conclusion
It’s not wet/damp roads that cause a crash. It’s not the tyre and wheel itself locking up that are responsible for a crash. The MAIN
causation of almost all crashes is rider error. A rider who loses control of his or her machine, was/is the CAUSE of any crash. Inputs to the machine are critical. Not enough steering at the right moment will be consequential. Too much steering input can be just as detrimental. Too much braking pressure will have the ancillary effect of locking a wheel/tyre up, etc, etc.

But in the end, it is the RIDER who is in control or not… When a rider does not implement good tactics and/or good practices, a rider will often forsake control. You’re either riding the machine or you’re merely a passenger just ALONG for the ride… -which type do you want to be!?

Road Bike Suspension…

Another (road bike) convert in the evolution of Suspension!

Wilier have introduced a new version of the Cento, called the 10DNR.  Three years in the making, with extensive testing and development has produced a rear suspended road machine that is more suited for long-er rides over rough roads.

But the (sad) reality is that most roads are becoming rougher and rougher as our infrastructure crumbles. North American roads will not be improving anytime soon, thanks to one of the most corrupted and criminal governments in the world. The same goes for most Euro nations as well, with the odd exception here and there. (namely Switzerland and Germany) but they too will eventually suffer from the unavoidable destruction from the emanate global warfare.

So, the evolution of suspension bikes will be a reality for almost all brands. Not that this (bad roads, etc) is/will be the main reason for the advance, but it will make for some excellent handling and comfortable road bikes. Obviously, the move is a marketing one first and foremost, but also a performance one as well.

Wilier describes the  dampening mechanism as “Actiflex Suspension System” which pairs a small rocker arm with a “technopolymer” insert to offer up to 3mm of rear wheel travel. According to Wilier, the Actiflex system controls both compression and rebound of the 3mm travel, in order to keep the suspension consistent. The bikes are due to arrive in the states in September of 2017… Whoo hoo!

2018-Wilier-Cento10-NDR

So, to my knowledge at this point, this makes three road bikes now with some type of rear dampening system. The other two being the K8S from Pinarello and the Calfee Manta. There is also a road bike with front ‘suspension’, the Specialized Roubaix