Rediscovering The Hum


Lead photo by Teocalli

There is nothing quite like The Hum of a good set of tyres on a smooth road when you are fit and in tune with the world and setting good pace with a tempo that feels effortless.

So it’s frustrating, or distressing, when you lose the main part of that scenario, fitness and suddenly everything seems like hard work.

With my health issues over the last year moments where I felt The Hum were few and far between.

Where a weekend ride with my main buddy was usually around 120 Km, in the early months of this year I was reduced to survival mode on a ride of 60 Km.  I don’t mind admitting that on more than one occasion I was nearly reduced to tears as my main buddy would effortlessly ride away from me.

Happily though, things seem to be in a good place at the moment and most of my fitness has returned and lately I suddenly realised that I had rediscovered The Hum.  It felt really good to be at peace with the world and in that zone.

It started me thinking as to what else goes into the sound and feeling of the whole thing.  I know it has been claimed that it is mostly down to whether you run Tubs – which I don’t (other than on my Vintage Rigs) also, that it is improved by Latex tubes vs Butyl, some of that I agree with as I run Latex on #1.  However, in IMHO it is mostly down to the tyres.

Specifically, and while cotton tyres generally seem to be give a good result and are my construction of choice for all my bikes, I’m sure that the best sound I’ve ever had was from the original (?) Vittoria Corsa and Pave with the Herring Bone tread pattern.  The modern Corsa are pretty good and give a great ride but I’m sure that the sound generated by the Grooved cut of the modern tread is not as good as it was with the older Corsa Herringbone tread.

Then again, as sound takes energy to generate it, should we really be wanting to hear The Hum or just be breezing along in total silence?

I am also seriously considering giving Tubeless another go as I think some of the sealants have improved and the latest Scwalbe One Tubeless claim not to be the complete b*&^@rds to get on and off as were the previous version.

Incidentally, the lead photo was a complete accident.  We had a team riding Dunkerque Roubaix a few years back and we went out on a shake down the evening before the event.  While taking some photos of our team on the roll I accidentally fired the camera in a few odd places but really liked this accidental shot.

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September 27, 2019 3:31 pm

Cooler weather of autumn is in the air, time for me to glue on some tubs. I’ve been riding clinchers most of the summer, miss the hum.

September 23, 2019 8:15 am

I don’t think I’ve got tyres that hum. The 60mm deep sections on my race bike make a delightful whooshing sound but that’s very much rim not tyre. I think the article is referring more to the hum of a well-tuned rider than a well-oiled machine though, and I think we all know how that feels. I think of this sensation as a buzz in my legs…when I’m riding easy it’s there, waiting…buzzing…and when I dig in for an effort the frequency of the buzz increases; the better my form, the more buzz there is. I’m hoping to be humming… Read more »

September 17, 2019 5:51 pm

Ah yes, “the hum.” You have to love the magical confluence of fitness, the quietude of the bike matched with the quietude of nature. It is indeed a rare thing but one of beauty. I have a charity ride this weekend which starts at 7:30am. There will likely be little to no traffic on the roads and maybe a bit of mist burning off as the sun warms things up. Little to no wind = bliss.

BTW as someone who works in the arts, that’s an awesome shot to top this piece!