Jens Voigt Is Wrong

The original title of this post was “Jens Voigt Is A Big Fat Liar.”  I changed it because that wouldn’t be fair to Mr. Voigt.  Lying implies an intent to deceive and I don’t know Mr. Voigt so it is entirely possible that he honestly believes the tripe written in the Specialized Armadillo tire ad. 

But he is wrong and demonstrably so.

I suffered the 8th flat of the season on a dirt road leading from the Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area.  My brand new Armadillo tires lasted precisely THIRTY SIX MILES before flatting.  Yippee.  Jens Voigt claims he trains 18,000 kms a year IN EVERY CONDITION on Armadillos.  I’m not certain what the conversion of kms to miles is, but I am pretty sure 18,000 kilometers is much much further than THIRTY SIX MILES.  Jens Voigt asserted I would die before my tires did.  Jens Voigt was wrong.

The Road That Did Me In. Is This Too Tough For A Hybrid?

Since July 5, I have attempted nine rides of a distance greater than 25 miles.  Only twice did I get through the ride without a mechanical failure.  Twice.  That’s two lost months of cycling.  I figure I could have gone on at least another nine rides of over 25 miles if I wasn’t waiting for parts, hauling my bike to the shop, conducting tests, or otherwise spending my time trying to repair my bike rather than ride it as I hoped to.

I was talked into buying a hybrid because they are (allegedly) more comfortable and more durable.  I was  more than willing to trade speed for these other attributes.  I specifically asked about the quality of the tires and was assured they were quite good.  None of this has born out in practice.  If I cannot ride a hybrid down a gravel road, then why bother with the hybrid?  If it is going to suffer a flat 60% of the time I ride over 25 miles, then why own it?  I’m easily giving up 3-5mph in pace in order to have the freedom to take the occasional off-road path and the ease of mind knowing that my tires are durable.  That’s a good trade, IMHO, accept all I’m getting in this bargain is the slower ride with none of the freedom or peace of mind. 

It’s time for the Crosstrail to go.

I was hoping to participate in my first organized ride in Culpeper on October 2.  That’s out the window.  I’ve lost two weeks of conditioning and I’ll blow another week or two fumbling about for a new ride.  Compounding that is the fact that I have been on a 40+ mile ride only two times in July and August for fear of another breakdown.  And yes, I suffered flats on both of these rides.  And a broken spoke.  I simply won’t be able to get myself together in time for a 65 mile event.

So now I’m off to put a patched tire on my bike.  With any luck the patch will hold (unlike my first attempt).  Then I’ll take some pics and put it on Craigslist.  It’s time to turn the page.


13 thoughts on “Jens Voigt Is Wrong

  1. Dude, you can ride 65 miles now, you could do it any time you wanted. Unless the course is super hard.

    Sorry to hear about the flat, but don’t totally close the book on them after one ride. By the way, I ride gravel on my road bike all the time, no problems.

    Contentals Contentals Contentals Contentals Contentals ContentalsContentals Contentals Contentals Contentals Contentals ContentalsContentals Contentals Contentals Contentals Contentals Contentals Contentals Contentals Contentals

  2. Sorry to here the Armadillos were a bust (no pun). My wife rides a Trek 72.FX commuter on the roads. It’s seems pretty sturdy. I’m a big guy and I ride a Fuji Newest but my local bike shop (Contes) upgraded the wheels (at no cost and the wheels probably cost more than my bike) because I, too, was spoking and flatting out. No problems since (crossed fingers and 8 rides). Keep it up! I have several friends who’ve had to go through bike modifications and/or different bikes to get what they need.

    • This seems to be a little-understood issue in the cycling world. So few folks are 200+ lbs (at least those who work and bike shops) that the advice they give is not very good. At least that’s the case for me in the three separate shops I’ve visited, the advice is generally consistent – your weight shouldn’t be an issue on any of our stock bikes. Right.

  3. This just makes me sad. Don’t hesitate to go ride the metric. You are certainly capable. First, you have the drive to do it, and secondly, you don’t have to condition by riding the mileage you will for the event. It’s been years since I’ve done a century, but I’m definitely doing it Sat. Please don’t let this keep you from doing it, even if you rent a bike, or take one on a test spin before buying it (do the metric on it).
    So sorry to hear about the tires. I will reiterate, that I use Gatorskins, and ride gravel, jump curbs, took some trails last weekend, etc. never a problem. Currently have 2200 miles on this pair, and no flats yet.
    Don’t allow anything to hinder your goal.

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Spokie, and I’ll think about the ride. It wasn’t a major event for me, just a nice little cherry on the sundae of my cycling season. I’ll keep pedaling one way or another. I’m not in the habit of quitting and this certainly won’t be the thing to cause me to start. I’ve got big plans for 2011 and I’ll be doing them on something not built by Specialized.

  4. I came across your blog while writing my own about my experience with Armadillos. You’ve had some rather unfortunate situations. What size tires were you running and what pressure do keep them at?

    • Hello – I see from your blog we read the same advertisements! 🙂 I ride 700 x 48 with 100 PSI. I see from your blog you adhere to underinflating in rough conditions. Two of my first flats (on Continental Boroughs) were pinch flats due to underinflation. As I am comfortably above 225 lbs, I now choose to keep the tires closer to the stated maximum pressure to avoid this problem. I’ve read others who suggest overinflating. I did that one time and my tube blew after 500 yards.

      The good news is my Armadillos haven’t failed me again since that unfortunate first day in September. Of course, I haven’t put them under nearly as much strain since I bought my road bike a week after the climactic events outlined in this post. My main ride is now a Trek with Bontrager tires. No flats after 800 miles, knock on wood! The Armadillos remain on my hybrid, which has been relegated to “family duty.”

  5. Well, Google led me to your page and the ad was too fitting not to use. I’ve definitely heard the over-inflating theory, which seems like it ends the same way given the rider puts in a fair amount of riding.

    Why the switch to the Trek? Haha, family duty seems fitting for them.

    • I convinced myself that hybrids weren’t the answer so I began looking for a good entry-level road bike. I wasn’t about to go with Specialized after my problems with them, so I wandered over to another LBS that sold Felts and Treks. They gave me good service, answered all my questions, and convinced me the 2.1 was a good fit for me. Four months later, I am still pleased with the decision.

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