Return Of The Gumwall

Laurens ‘Tan’ Dam shows off his gums at La Vuelta.

If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that ‘useful’ things like practicality and functionality can often take a back seat to more basic pursuit of aesthetics and taste. If you haven’t, then your name might just be Paul.

You may have also become aware that there is occasional flagrant flouting of certain guidelines by curators and purveyors alike. Long black socks, red bar tape and big bidons, facial and leg hair, some have even been known to experiment with the much-maligned and socially destructive drug EPMS. Some things shouldn’t be tampered with, while others are prone to some manipulation as seen fit by circumstance. And some things will always be ‘just the way it is’.

Take tyres for example. Rule #8 was one of the first decreed (it was the eighth, if memory serves) and is one of the more complex in its simplicity. To put it in layman’s terms, tyres are a simple thing to get right. Black. They match any bike regardless of colour and will always look good no matter how much abuse they receive. But look more closely and a myriad of options are offered; match this to that or that to the other bit, and the other bit back to that. Or just go black. See, told you it was simple.

So why should choosing a new set of rubber be a cause of consternation? I needed to replace my trusty Pavé CG’s as they’d seen better days, from the cobbles of Belgium and France in April through a winter of more off-road detours than any road bike should be subjected to. Punctures became a feature of almost every ride, two at a time on a couple of outings. The green tread was worn and cut up and my mates were getting sick of waiting and probably wanted to strangle me with a tube as I attempted to get aired up and mobile yet again. Hang on, green? Surely not compliant…

Well yeah, the hue that is ubiquitous with Pro bikes in the European spring is the one color of tread that gets an automatic pass due to that other great cornerstone of the dual pursuits of Cycling and Looking Fantastic: heritage. From Malteni orange to Lampre pink, green goes with anything and everything in Spring. Vittoria’s Pavés and FMB’s Paris Roubaixs have seen more action on more bikes on more cobbles than Mother Theresa has seen sick kids, and thus get almost as many blessings as she gives out on a mission to Africa. But go back further still, and the sidewall colour of choice to set off any steed is the gumwall. Or skinwall. Maybe tanwall, depending on your diocese.

It should’ve been easy to choose a new tyre due to my spate of flats. Thick, heavy rubber with all kinds of Kevlar reinforcement, varying TPI counts and tread patterns all were mulled over, for about five minutes. I wanted gumwalls. To hell with practicality and functionality, not to mention cost. I made the call to my rubber pusher Graeme  and he administered the goods stat. Thinner, lighter, faster, probably less durable; my new Corsa SC’s may not solve any puncture issues, but damned if they don’t look the business. Fantastic, even.

The gumwall is back, and there’s no going black.

[dmalbum path=”/velominati.com/content/Photo Galleries/[email protected]/gummy/”/]

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142 Replies to “Return Of The Gumwall”

  1. @ron calipers are Ciamillo Negative G.  I’ve since swapped them out for some white TRPs as the Negative Gs stopped working once they got a bit old (3 years) – quite unnerving (the paint starts to ‘ruck up’ where the cam is, and the springs go).  The guy following me was in hysterics, as I’d unclipped and was using my cleats to slow down – with speedplays that meant that sparks were streaming out behind me.  I found the large bush I ended up in a more effective stopping mechanism than either a) my old Ciamillo’s and b) my speedplay cleats on tarmac.  I’m not enamoured by the TRPs, however and might consider switching to EE Cycleworks if I can find someone on ebay who wants to buy my liver.  Bars are actually gloss – but I do so love them.  Have spent much of this year trying to ride more in the drops, and with these bars it is getting quite comfortable.

    @brett seatpost tumour has gone, you’ll be glad to hear

  2. @roadslave525 By the end of the summer I was getting to the point where I could spend considerable amounts of time in the drops. To the point where I stopped thinking about it. I was managing to get a good amount of time on the bike including 130k club rides on a weekly basis which obviously helped but I was also putting in a lot of work on my core which I think was the key.

    Since then I’ve not ridden much and now that I’m getting back into it, my back is telling me to sit up a lot which is less than ideal as I can’t remember the last time I rode without there being a serious headwind.

    The Pearson looks stunning.

  3. @Chris

    @roadslave525 By the end of the summer I was getting to the point where I could spend considerable amounts of time in the drops. To the point where I stopped thinking about it. I was managing to get a good amount of time on the bike including 130k club rides on a weekly basis which obviously helped but I was also putting in a lot of work on my core which I think was the key.

    Since then I’ve not ridden much and now that I’m getting back into it, my back is telling me to sit up a lot which is less than ideal as I can’t remember the last time I rode without there being a serious headwind.

    The Pearson looks stunning.

    You riding compact bars?  I cannot really seem to spend much time at all in the drops but my new n+1 I’ve gone for compact wing bars from FSA and I have to say I like them.  It also has a 3D headset (don’t ask you are better off googling it) but essentially means you can put spacers under the headset race which brings the bars up to lessen the angle of attack and I guess therefore releasing some strain on the lower back obviously the bars are still lower than the saddle but every little helps I guess…

  4. @Deakus It’s a 3T Ergonova Team on a fairly short 3T ARX Pro stem. I also gradually moved all of the spacers onto the top of the stem as my back got more flexible. The bike is a Cannondale CAAD 8 so the head tube is a reasonable length as opposed to being ultra short.

  5. @Chris

    @Deakus It’s a 3T Ergonova Team on a fairly short 3T ARX Pro stem. I also gradually moved all of the spacers onto the top of the stem as my back got more flexible. The bike is a Cannondale CAAD 8 so the head tube is a reasonable length as opposed to being ultra short.

    That should have read LTD stem.

  6. @frank I cannot believe you posted one of those e-card memes on our site. You might as well type everything in emoticon from here on out.

    @Dan_R It’s been fun following your wheel building business via Frank’s stoke for them and your updates here. What a fun project and I wish you all the success. And the new name – fantastic. The logo, all of it, sweet. Good choice.

  7. @Chris

    @Chris

    @Deakus It’s a 3T Ergonova Team on a fairly short 3T ARX Pro stem. I also gradually moved all of the spacers onto the top of the stem as my back got more flexible. The bike is a Cannondale CAAD 8 so the head tube is a reasonable length as opposed to being ultra short.

    That should have read LTD stem.

    Beautiful bars, at the LBS I was thinking of the Rotundo bars which I know Frank has a soft spot for, but a sensible conversation with the guy who runs the place about my penchant for diaphramatic breathing persuaded me towars the compacts…but the git never showed me those beauties so I have the FSA wing bars, which I have to say are still verty nice and VERY shallow in the drops…..there is hope for me yet….and I went for the ARX Team stem which again is a beauty….I love the 3T stuff…

  8. @frank

    Ah, the gumwall. I’m quickly coming to the conclusion that while it’s a long way from being a Rule, the gumwall is the true choice of the Velominatus.

    My problem with Vittorias or any of those beautiful, supple tires is that I do most of my riding in the city, and they just get cut up so quickly…that and I wear through the tread too quickly because I’m such a monster. But I’ve found that if you let them age a year in your cellar, they’re OK. I did that to my Gommitalia Calypos’s and they are holding up just fine. Just drink a bottle of the wine you’re storing and put a set of tires in its place for a year. No one needs to know.

    The aged tires are a little slippery in the wet, though.

    The Dugats on the CX-C are also natural sidewalls – talk about amazing tires, WOW. I’ll be rebuilding the wheels on the TSX into tubbies this winter and put some naturals on there as well – probably either FMB or Dugast.

    Also, I’m bringing these wheels – the Richters (which will no longer be called Richter but Café Roubaix) on Keepers Tour. I’ll be mounting some more FMB’s on them and bringing a Shimano cassette body – the idea will be we’ll let anyone who wants to try them ride the wheels and see what they think. I’m super impressed by them so far, incredibly light and sturdy despite their featheriness.

    Dan_R is building me a set for the Haleakala ride in January which will actually come in under a 1000g. Amazing. Compared to the 1700 grams I dragged up there last time, I expect to cut my time in half. What could go wrong?

    I  seriously hope that MTB leaning on the other side of that fence wasn’t racing cx that day. That should be a Rule.

  9. @Deakus The 3T stuff is indeed drool worthy. The Ergonovas fit perfectly and the red and black matches my Fizik saddle beautifully – it’s just a shame that I now need to change my frame to match. Apparently Cannondale’s otherwise excellent warranty doesn’t cover colour clashes with upgraded equipment, can’t think why not.

  10. Roadslave’s bike are indeed beautiful. I should have a Pearson joining my stable in the next month, which I’m even more exitied about now. Won’t be in pumpkin, but i may have to see about a customised headtube badge…

  11. @Deakus

    You riding compact bars? I cannot really seem to spend much time at all in the drops but my new n+1 I’ve gone for compact wing bars from FSA and I have to say I like them.

    I’ve got the FSA compact wing pros as well, and while I definitely prefer the look of a traditional bar, I do enjoy the shape and feel of the FSA compacts and find that I spend more time in the drops now than I did before I got them.

  12. @roadslave

    I have one of those saddle bags too – they are just the wrong size for everything. It’s infuriating.

    Nice setup on the Pearson, but Speedplays on a retro fixie ?

    It’s like executing a triple back somersault with pike and then tucking into a bomb at the end.

  13. @ChrisO

    @roadslave

    I have one of those saddle bags too – they are just the wrong size for everything. It’s infuriating.

    Nice setup on the Pearson, but Speedplays on a retro fixie ?

    It’s like executing a triple back somersault with pike and then tucking into a bomb at the end.

    And what is so wrong about the good old fashioned bomb?  I am a past master at it, it is the one dive (I use the word dive in its broadest sense) where size makes a real difference!

    I would rather see a quality bomb any day rather than all this cliff diving rubbish that redbull seem to sponsor these days….

  14. having lived through the 70’s, and having been FORCED to wear the crap that we had to back then, as a boy, i out grew big bell-bottom pants/courderoy, big buckles everywhere, big hair, big collar shrits…and yes, gumwall colored tyres.

    I may be the exception here, but I just bought a pair of gumwalled tubie challenge’s, and took a permanent marker and colored it black…and simply made it right.  Black is right everytime.

    Except when the tyres are like mentioned, Vittoria Pave’, green goes with anything! and everything.

    Frank: thanks for the hoop shot, will be googling that in a moment

  15. @Chris

    @roadslave525 By the end of the summer I was getting to the point where I could spend considerable amounts of time in the drops. To the point where I stopped thinking about it. I was managing to get a good amount of time on the bike including 130k club rides on a weekly basis which obviously helped but I was also putting in a lot of work on my core which I think was the key.

    Since then I’ve not ridden much and now that I’m getting back into it, my back is telling me to sit up a lot which is less than ideal as I can’t remember the last time I rode without there being a serious headwind.

    If you can get to a gym, the most helpful thing is where you hang over this thing and pull yourself up, no clue what it is called. I’ve been doing it with a 25lb plate.  Being in the drops is nothing now.

    @Deakus

    @Chris

    @Chris

    @Deakus It’s a 3T Ergonova Team on a fairly short 3T ARX Pro stem. I also gradually moved all of the spacers onto the top of the stem as my back got more flexible. The bike is a Cannondale CAAD 8 so the head tube is a reasonable length as opposed to being ultra short.

    That should have read LTD stem.

    Beautiful bars, at the LBS I was thinking of the Rotundo bars which I know Frank has a soft spot for, but a sensible conversation with the guy who runs the place about my penchant for diaphramatic breathing persuaded me towars the compacts…but the git never showed me those beauties so I have the FSA wing bars, which I have to say are still verty nice and VERY shallow in the drops…..there is hope for me yet….and I went for the ARX Team stem which again is a beauty….I love the 3T stuff…

    Have you seen the new Tornova, its like a compact round drop:

  16. @DerHoggz Gym? No thank you. Off bike fitness work should adhere strictly to the masturbation principle and be conducted in the confines of your own home, with the curtains drawn and while the kids are at school or asleep. What thing should I be hanging over though?

    I thought the Tournova was essentially a Rotundo with a flat top? That Integra stem is ugly beyond words.

  17. @DerHoggz That sounds like a core strength excercise…core strength will certainly help you feel more comfortable in the drops and enable you to sustain it for longer…I think the issue for Chris was one of flexibility from what he said so although core excercises might help, it might also tighten things up a bit…I am no physio but I would imagine some sort of stretches (without weights) would most likely be in order….

    Mine on the other hand is an issue of the guns bouncing off my very large engine on each pedal stroke!

  18. @Pedale.Forchetta And it looks like he is choosing not the enter TdF in 2013

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/sanchez-likely-to-race-giro-ditalia-vuelta-a-espana-in-2013

    Great pic!

    Also interesting that he thinks Wiggo will not ride the tour whereas I had read in to the reports that Bradley would ride in support of Froomedog….maybe he knows something I don’t I had not seen any confirmation that Wiggins would not even enter TdF…that one hell of a statement for a current winner to make, but I guess if anyone is stubborn and focused enough to do it then Brad is…

  19. @Deakus@DerHoggz I suffer from issues of flexibility and strength so my routine is a mix of muscle building and stretching, mainly pilates type stuff. Too many years playing rugby in the front row followed by too many bone idle years left me inflexible, especially in the lower back and without the strength to prevent some of the muscles going into spasm if I didn’t look after my back properly. So far it would seem that flexibility will come back, it’s better than it has been for years. I was worried that some of the damage would be permanent.

    Now I just need to sort my knee out.

  20. @Pedale.Forchetta

    Samuel Sanchez,

    with gumwall.

    photo by me

    Fantastic photo – as always! LOVE the B&W.

    I read that Wiggo was going 100% for the Giro but in support of Froome in the Tour. I just finished reading the Wiggo auto biography and there was some thinly veiled problems with Froome in there. CF signed on to help but seemed to strain at the leash a bit and had to have it yanked.

  21. @Marko

    @frank I cannot believe you posted one of those e-card memes on our site. You might as well type everything in emoticon from here on out.

    Even the COTHO had an ad with Radio Shack talking about emoticons, I think…

    @Dan_R It’s been fun following your wheel building business via Frank’s stoke for them and your updates here. What a fun project and I wish you all the success. And the new name – fantastic. The logo, all of it, sweet. Good choice.

    Thanks Marko. In an email, Frank mentioned that people were asking and commenting on the “Ritchey” wheels. That laid the name and logo to rest.

    @Pedale.Forchetta
    Quite the photo! If you ever find yourself in the Canadian Rockies with a camera, I could use a sports photographer!

  22. @Dan_R Fuck, people are lame sometimes. How hard is it if you’re interested in something to take an extra second to read the name properly? Nothing at all against the new name but I thought Richter was a great name, what a shame for you.

  23. @Oli

    @Dan_R Fuck, people are lame sometimes. How hard is it if you’re interested in something to take an extra second to read the name properly? Nothing at all against the new name but I thought Richter was a great name, what a shame for you.

    In the “lame” people’s defense, those wheels were always moving pretty fucking fast with me on the bike.

    I’ll let @Dan_R share the logo if he wants to, but there is no question its a cooler concept and logo than the Richter, despite Richter being a good name in itself.

  24. @Dan_R Yes, it’s a cool name and a nice logo for sure. I just thought Richter was personal and unique, whereas Roubaix is great but a bit more generic. Will the wheels be called Cafe Roubaix Bicycles wheels? Will the wheel decals be the same as this one?

  25. @frank

    @Oli I was willing before hand if there were going to be recognition problems. For the arcane, I was waiting for someone to ask if I rocket bikes in development. I have even had enquiries about the Nineteen Richter frameset – an alloy TT frame. In the end it will keep “brand recognition” easy with the studio and the website.

  26. @Oli

    @Dan_R Yes, it’s a cool name and a nice logo for sure. I just thought Richter was personal and unique, whereas Roubaix is great but a bit more generic. Will the wheels be called Cafe Roubaix Bicycles wheels? Will the wheel decals be the same as this one?

    On the deeper carbon rims I will put the logo at the valve hole and “café roubaix” on the other side. I am still workign on the alloy rim design. Like many builders on the internet, I will be using KinLin’s line of road rims. There are a few guys that “name” their builds and I will be doing the same. But I think what will distingush my builds will be finished product. But that is just the general offering. I will be building to suit as well – that is where we will really step away from other “internet” wheelbuilders. I would like to think a “Gerd Schraner” for the select. (not the masses!)

    Oh Oli, some ofyour more recent builds – butter!

  27. @Dan_R I love the idea of the logo on the deeper rims, a great touch. (I also as per Oli, liked Richter as a name, but for the simple fact it rang true in my non-bike life as a geologist). I wish you all the best and will live vicariously through your experiences as, basically, you’re embarking on my dream job…

     

  28. @Oli

    @Dan_R Fuck, people are lame sometimes. How hard is it if you’re interested in something to take an extra second to read the name properly? Nothing at all against the new name but I thought Richter was a great name, what a shame for you.

    Heh, for months I thought @Cyclops’ frame business name was “Decagon”, and I couldn’t figure out why the fuck he had named it after that particular shape…

  29. Also, at some point someone is going to need to start a list of all the bike-based businesses that folks on here run/are starting. It’s pretty inspiring to see people take charge of their future so directly, really.

    I’m current sitting in my cubicle and can feel my soul dying a little more each day.

  30. @mcsqueak

    Also, at some point someone is going to need to start a list of all the bike-based businesses that folks on here run/are starting. It’s pretty inspiring to see people take charge of their future so directly, really.

    I’m current sitting in my cubicle and can feel my soul dying a little more each day.

    I feel your pain, my job involves herding cats. Or dealing with 300 employees worth of schedules and revenue files. soul sucking to say the least.

  31. @brett Great piece and gorgeous bike! This Spring I bought my #1 some Veloflex Masters, my eye having been caught by tan walls some time earlier. Like Ron, I think the classic look of the tire really complements a modern bike. The feel of the Veloflex was amazing to me (I’ve never ridden tubulars) but the one problem I had was the extremely tight fit to my Campa Scirocco wheels. The packet said not to use tire levers to install them, but this was absolutely out of the question, and at the Seattle Summer Cogal I even managed to cut my hand when I flatted and tried to get the tire on and off (thanks to Frank for helping and waiting). So does anyone know of a similar but larger tire that would alleviate this problem? Are Vittorias any different?

  32. @James In my experience Vittoria Open Corsas of various varieties go on pretty easy, but I don’t have Campagnolo rims.  The SC is gum wall.

  33. @James

    Campa wheels do run on the larger size diameter-wise, my Fulcrums are a pain to get the tire back on, especially in the cold.

  34. thanks gents. I know I am on th path that many of us dream. And feel lucky to be doing it. Cripes, maybe its the boxed wine, but hope to live up to expectations!

    And yes, the army was full of soul sucking jobs too. You’d be surprised how many stupid people make colonel…

  35. @Dan_R


    And the typeset for the wheels…

    If you’re looking for feedback, this could be tons better.

    Why not use the serif font from the shield logo? And the white outline should be sent back to the designer (or get a better designer). An inset white outline messes up the red letterforms. Your designer should be using a white background behind the existing red letters, not on top of it.

  36. @James

    As others mentioned, Vittoria are a breeze to get on and off.  Contis give a bit of a fight.  Veloflex make you check the box for size errors a few times and mop up your sweat after the first time you get them on the rim.

  37. @Chris

    @Deakus, @DerHoggz I suffer from issues of flexibility and strength so my routine is a mix of muscle building and stretching, mainly pilates type stuff. Too many years playing rugby in the front row followed by too many bone idle years left me inflexible, especially in the lower back and without the strength to prevent some of the muscles going into spasm if I didn’t look after my back properly. So far it would seem that flexibility will come back, it’s better than it has been for years. I was worried that some of the damage would be permanent.

    Now I just need to sort my knee out.

    I am with you there….last year I had left ankle reconstruction, this year it was the right ankle…..the right knee will need some sort of attention in the next 3 yrs or so….too much time as you say on the rugby pitch, squash court and basketball plus falling off mountains and a bit of running around with guns (that shoot bullets not the shaved kind) and marching with weight has left me in my early 40’s feeling like I am 80!

    Bizarrely after years with a bad lower back (2 herniated discs and a bunch of dehydrated ones) my return to cycling has cured it….I have been pain free in my back for 2 years now and loving it!

    It is just beautiful that cycling is low impact so I can continue to work on my magnificient stroke, and the best thing I find for flexibility is swimming….particularly breaststroke, fly and tumbleturns if you can get the hang of them..

  38. Colour matching tyres to my bike is a breeze, as it’s a stylish Bianchi in matt carbon with red and white decals, red black tyres with red sidewalks look smIck.  Gum walls would just not look good on that bike. Matching colours to era is essential.

  39. I just passed a guy on my commute to the office and waved before I noticed he was a) riding in the drops b) wearing a backpack c) wearing a poofy coat (it ain’t that cold and I can’t imagine ever wearing such a heavy jacket while pedaling) d) sporting red bar tape. I almost turned around and asked for my wave back.

    Oli – double-sided tape worked well on my bb guide fix. Thanks for the advice! Adjusting Mavic hubs…got it! Ha, I’ve had a Park Tool adjustable spanner in my toolbox for a few years & that was the first time I got to use it. Thanks for sorting me out.

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