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Rubena V66 Flash
Stop Thorn Tires

Rubena may seem like a new name in tires to North American consumers, but back in the Czech Republic they’ve been making tires since 1928. The V66 is their basic touring and commuter tire, available in 28 - 40 mm widths in 26” and 700c versions, with flat proof and reflective options. The tested V66 has both the 3M reflective stripe on the sidewall and Rubena’s Stop Thorn flat protection system, a stiff 3.5 mm thick strip embedded in the tire. At 450 g each the 700c x 32 tires aren’t light, and the Stop Thorn strip is anything but supple, but I’ve always found that heavy tires full of air roll faster than lightweight tires with a flat. So far so good, after months of riding around carrying a pair of spare tubes and a pump I’ve yet to have had a flat tire. Stiff sidewalls didn’t make the V66 tires the easiest to install, but by the same token provide further pinch-flat protection and have bailed me out when not paying the closest attention to airing up before heading out. Perhaps not the best choice for performance riding, but for the everyday commute or a long tour the $30 Rubena V66 with the Stop Thorn casing and reflective strip seem an appropriate choice.

Hold Fast
Foot Retention System

Hold Fast foot retention straps remain much the same as ever, identical in construction to the versions I first reviewed back in 2009. In that first review, after but a month of riding, I wrote “...I must say I’m thoroughly impressed, and possibly completely converted to this style of pedal retention.” Since then I have in fact completely converted to Hold Fast straps for any of my not-clipless riding — I’ve not used a toe-clip and strap system since the fall of ‘09 and have at least three sets of Hold Fast straps in service, including that first review pair.

Even with the latest in casual clipless shoes in hand I still prefer flat pedals and Hold Fast straps for some rides. It’s hard to beat a traditional sneaker or soccer shoe for off the bike, or a good waterproof boot for the commute through the winter. Unlike toe-clips, Hold Fast straps don’t hurt my toes and in my experience cause far less wear on your shoes at the contact points over the long term. I’ve gotten used to the decreased cornering clearance of platform pedals as compared to traditional flat road or track pedals, but it is still worth mentioning to new converts.

Hold Fast straps are available for $57 per pair, and are completely made in the USA. If you had told me five or six years ago that there was a better system for casual shoes than toe-clips and double straps I would have bet against you. Today I’m a convert, it’s either clipless or Hold Fast.