Every mixed-terrain ride is different - that's one of the reasons we love rides like the Honey 100 and the 101.
These Honey routes contain some of everything - from pavement, rough roads, dirt roads, abandoned trails, aqueduct tracks, mountain bike singletrack, and on and on. To that end, here's the bike setup we recommend.
Of course, there are lots of approaches to the ideal bike, with no single right answer for everyone. The most fundamental focus of the bike is to ensure that it's safe to ride, it gets you safely where you want to go, and that you’ve set it up for optimized durability and comfort.
The most balanced and durable bike setup for the 2015 Honey 100 is likely to include the following:
Weather and trail conditions will affect the ideal choice for the Ride. Route diversity shows that you'll want to have 25c slicks on some paved sections and 2.5" mountain tires on some of the rooty singletrack sections. However, since you'll probably only bring one set of tires, we expect the following type of tire will be the most versatile and durable:
- Tire Size: 32c minimum. 40c will be popular. Bigger than about 43c will make the paved sections seem longer. It really depends a lot on your riding skill set; as an example, a skilled mountain biker can get away with narrow tires, maybe a 28c to 35c semi knobby, on this route. For those that spend more time on the road, and are not as technically comfortable, a wider tire 35c to 45c knobby – that provides control, flat protection, and grip – will be well worth the trade-off relative to a narrower tire’s road speed.
- Tire Tread: Definitely something. Knobbies or filetread at least. A tire that has a bit of a center ridge – for road speed – and knobs on the sides – for offroad control – is the tire that we’ll be riding. The Clement MSO 40c is a good example of this style of tire. As stated above, there are some mountain bike trails and some great paved sections on the route. In the end, you want a tire that works in both extremes – tailored toward being more beneficial to your weakness as a rider.
- Tire Pressure: Of course, as with everything, personal preference is the rule. We recommend riding within about 10-25% of maximum air pressure recommended by the tire manufacturer. This will help you avoid flats, and you’ll roll faster on the road. Getting a flat when you’re 50-miles into the ride can be a really frustrating thing. While your bike will ride a bit stiffer, most people with which we ride tend to trade that for reducing the chance of a flat.
A lot of riders are likely to use compact chainrings in the front: 50-34t. For the rear cassette, we like low gears for grinding up the steep singletrack so we're riding 12-32t cassettes. There are a few moments on the route that reach a 10+ percent grade, or more, on dirt; these sections are very short, but a 1:1 gear ratio might be appreciated.
Drop bars will be more comfortable on the road sections. Also, the additional hand positions afforded by drops will be welcome in the fifth hour of the ride.
Clipless pedals are required, not just recommended. If you don't ride clipless you're going to have a very difficult time on this ride.
Sometimes people ask about using road pedals and shoe versus mountain bike shoes and pedals. We strongly recommend offroad shoes; the trails are tough on road cleats.
If you don't do long mixed-terrain rides very often, you may be surprised at how tough the trails can be on your bike. Make sure your bike has good tires with no cuts or chunks missing, good brake-pad wear remaining, your cables aren't frayed, all bolts are properly tight, and your chain is reasonable new and oiled - and then dried. Basically, make sure your bike is tuned-up really well. It's embarrassing to have something fall off your bike or end your ride early.
That covers the primary aspects of the bikes. Regarding all the other elements – brake type, wheel choice, mudguards or no – we don’t have strong opinions. However, please contact us with any specific component questions.
We look forward to seeing you on this trail!