Colossal: Challenge Parigi-Roubaix and Strada Bianca


Tonight I mounted up some fresh Challenge Tires.

The 700x27C Parigi-Roubaix


The 700x30C Strada Bianca.


Both tires are handmade, open tubular tires with a puncture protection strip under the tread. Both tires were a bitch to mount up. You need three hands. My thumbs hurt like a motherfucker.

Two tips for mounting these:

  1. Mount them on a spare rim, without a tube to stretch them out a bit.
  2. Use a slightly smaller tube than usual, use a new tube, ideally.
  3. Be careful of pinch flats, because the tire is so tight, and so flat, it’s easy to do.

When mounted, the deflated tire is very flat:


Once mounted, which took about 90 minutes, for two tires (Yeah, fuck that), I inflated both to 100 psi to measure fit and width.

On the rear, the 700x30C Strada Bianca measures 31mm wide on a Sun Assault (18mm wide x 19mm high) rim. The tire/rim combination measures 47mm high. As you can see, there’s plenty of clearance in the back.


On the front, the 700x27C Parigi-Roubaix measures 29mm wide, by 44mm high on a Sun Assault rim. There’s not much clearance left, about 3mm. With only 3mm of space, there’s no hope of fitting a Strada Bianca in there.


Realistically, I won’t run these tires at 100 psi. 75 front/60 rear is probably closer to where I would start out on gravel, and that might allow me to just squeeze a Strada Bianca in the fork, but what would the value be, if the tolerances are so close that adding a few psi causes the tire to rub?

I’ll test ride these in the next day or so, and write up a review.


2013 Salsa Colossal; the arrival


Sadly, I cannot resist temptation, nor can I resist tinkering. The two, taken together, have led to a proliferation of shit in my life; my garage, my basement, my shop in Gretna.

The latest bright idea, a 2013 Salsa Colossal, on sale at Greenstreet Cycles:Greenstreet Salsa

Who could resist that blue? A night time test ride in frigid temps, hunched over in my puffy coat confirmed that I wanted it. But for what purpose?

Eh, who fucking cares, it’s a bike.



January 2nd, I drove it home. It’s blue, it’s 21 lbs, and here’s what Salsa says about it:

Colossal 2 is our all-day road riding and rack-less randonneuring bike. It’s a bike for pouring on the miles, taking in the scenery, challenging one’s self, and making discoveries.

The Classico CroMoly frame is paired with a feathery ENVE RD carbon disc fork and features extremely balanced front and rear ends. Disc brakes deliver consistent and confidence-inspiring braking.

Colossal. Eat a big breakfast.

The cool bits: SRAM Apex drive train, FSA Gossamer compact double, and did I mention that it weighs as little as my SSCX Bianchi San Jose?

The downside, it only handles 28mm maximum tire width. That damn sexy ENVE RD carbon disc fork features about zero room for wide ass gravel tires.


Which, is only a problem if you want to gravel race it. Which is a problem, since I want to gravel race it.

I want to gravel race it, because I think it’s fast. Gravel Worlds 2012 was won on a Trek Domane, 2013 was won on an All-City Mr. Pink. Both road bikes running skinnys (the Trek was on 25mm Contis, and the Pink appeared to be on Paselas).

But it’s gonna need some tire, so which ones?

I will say this, Kenda Kommando and Panaracer Crossblasters, both very narrow (28mm measured) cross tires, don’t fit.



So, the theorizing began: can it be a gravel racer? what kinda tire can I cram in there? What can I run to keep it light, and make it fast, over gravel roads?