45NRTH Polara- First Impression

QBP santa showed up today with goodies in tow. The box practically filled my office cube when it was dropped off. I opened up the box and took a look at our new 45NRTH Polara tires.

45NRTH
Tires rarely look pretty straight out of the box. This set was pretty dirty looking, but that’s just cosmetic.

The first thing I noticed was the tread. 45NRTH boasts that the tread creates lower rolling resistance while also shedding snow/ice. We shall see how accurate those claims are! The tires have 110studs which seemed like a good middle of the road number without going overboard. There were some options that had up to 240 and some as low as 74. The bike path gets cleaned fairly regularly so I didn’t want to ride on something so extreme.

If we were country/small town folks with back roads to travel, the 240 would have been a good option, but we’re spoiled here in Madison. The bike paths are usually cleared before the roads are!

tread

The next item I looked at was the listed size (I couldn’t seem to remember if they were 35 or 38c) they are 700×35 as you see here:tiresizeI don’t have a digital caliper on hand to measure that, but they look around that size. Actual contact on the ground varies by rim width/depth anyway.

I also checked the pressure recommendation. The 60-65psi range tends to be favored in our camp, but again it will depend on how the tire seats and rides. tirepsiThe one thing that kind of shocked me, but probably shouldn’t have, was I found the Innova logo on the side of the tire. I had assumed 45NRTH had actually designed a specific tire of their own, but it turns out the Polara is basically Innova’s Tundra Wolf tire. Slightly disappointing, but it’s not much different than Planet Bike sourcing LED lights and slapping their logo on them, even if they had little or no actual product development. That’s not to say they don’t develop ANY products, but there are some standard designs that pretty much anyone can put a logo on and call it their own. innova

It’s a pretty common practice in the cycling industry, so no hard feelings 45NRTH. If I had seen that in store rather than online I probably would have opted to try something else that seemed more of THEIR design, but maybe Innova manufactures all of their tires? If anyone has any insight on that it would be appreciated.

Not working in a shop every day means little exposure to some of these newer products/companies. Note to us: go visit a crap load of new shops in 2013!

Overall I still think the tires are nice. Studded tires don’t come cheap, even when you get the opportunity to purchase through distribution and we highly believe in, you get what you pay for. It’ll be fun testing them out the next few weeks. We’ll report back and let you all know how they work out!

What’s that? More Winter Gear!

I apologize for anyone living in a land of warmth and sunshine because we won’t be covering much of that kind of riding until the end of May. Wisconsin winters as of late have been starting in December and last until at least April.

Last week we got 16-20″ dumped across the southern region of the state and expect 4 more inches today!

We haven’t been able to ride our bikes much of anywhere because the snow and ice is so packed down on the roads that it’s damn near impossible NOT to crash out. The awesomely wonderful Vittoria Randonneur Hypers rule in the summer months, but make for quite the crappy tire for winter.

Luckily the pagan gods/Santa Clause dropped some extra cash in our laps so outside of fixing our main computer at Spoke Haven HQ (the one with all the important design suites on it, doh!), we get a little extra to buy some winter commuting goods.

Today we ordered up a set of 45NRTH Polara Studded Tires. The tires are size 700x35c, have 110 studs, and feature nicely spaced knobs to shed snow. They retail at about $50 a piece. It’s kind of pricey, but most people get several seasons out of studded tires when treated right. There are some folks who spend more on slick roadie tires that last less than a season, so I’d say the price is fair. 45NRTH is a part of the QBP family. Designed in the land of ice & snow, the Twin Cities, so you know they are going to be functional.Product_Studio_PolaraBoth Keri and I will take a stab at trying these bad boys out on our respective commuter bikes. It’ll be exciting to start 2013 out with some sweet snowy rides. The goal for 2013 is to ride the distance from Portland, ME to Portland, OR…3000 something miles! That may seem like a lot to some folks or it may sound like nothing to others who ride everywhere, all the time. For us, it’s a satisfying goal and can’t wait to start working to reach it!

The next item purchased was an Ibex Merino, Made in the USA balaclava. Keri already has one, but Cassandra doesn’t.

ibexbalaclava

It’ll keep us from growing ice beards 😉 $30 for an awesome piece of wool made in the USA that will last years to come and won’t make your head stink.

The last item we’re pretty stoked about aren’t items we purchased, but that we’ve re-discovered in digging through a box of ski/snowboarding goodies…GOGGLES! We’ve laid off using goggles since sunglasses are usually the top choice for riding, but with it still being fairly dark in the morning and on the way home, goggles work best. They are also ventilated and don’t fog up quite as much, or so it seems. As women who have smaller faces, we both use kids sized goggles. The Spy Targa Mini goggles are fairly inexpensive, but still a nice option.

spyminitarga

We’ll be sure to do an overview of each item as we commute with them. As always, experimentation is fun and necessary! No two rides are ever exactly the same for us here at Spoke Haven. We’re constantly trying out new gear and new ways to make being on the bike more enjoyable!