Oct 31, 2008

Canvas 4GF

Mat courtesy of Florian Morlat collection

This is a Standard 4GF made out of canvas. Since the modified three pontoon concept worked so well with nylon fabric, it was worth a try. I even threw in some brass grommets and perimeter rope!

Not only did this mat ride nowhere near as well as a nylon 4GF, it wasn't as good as a Converse Hodgman in head-to-head comparisons. Which reinforced what we were beginning to suspect at the time...that each material calls for a different configuration of dimensions, pontoons, and I-Beams to maximize it's potential.

5 comments:

bongoman said...

Is the current 4GF material as good as it gets? Or do you foresee new materials becoming available that will offer further benefits?

PG said...

There's a chance that the material now used in nylon mats is very close to, or at, the ideal point.

A thinner material might have to be ridden a little firmer to hold it's shape against the twin forces of the wave face and the rider's weight, so there might not be any net gain in performance.

But, mats made of thinner material might need to be redesigned -- maybe only slightly -- to make the most of the new material. The traditional four pontoon shape was great for canvas, but poorly suited to the nylon material...and that lead to the modified three pontoon shape.

It's a case of finding material that will "permanently" bond to itself, be air tight, and endure a lot of random pressure attacks from all angles and still hold together. The slight give that the nylon has lets the mat expand slight when under sever load -- like going over the falls after a two cheesburger lunch.

Of course, price has to come into consideration. If a mat is made from some kind of material that nets a significant performance increase, but resulted in $850 mats...what do we do then?

There are a lot of thinner, more pliable materials out there. I received a sample of some super thin material in the mail yesterday, which I'll be fiddling with in the coming days. And I have another batch of samples coming in the next few weeks. So, the search continues.

But again, what we have now might be ideal...and we are very lucky to have what we have!

Nathan said...

Once again the connection between cycling and matting. Carbon fiber bike frames/components may be slightly lighter and give a slight "performance" increase but they are expensive and will most definitely not stand the test of time even when properly cared for. I'd say the ideal future mat material would retain the same weight/thickness/pliability characteristics that they have now, but would be stronger/more puncture resistant.

An idea I had for future mats would be interchangeable deck patches. I've noticed a new type of Velcro type material out there that could be a good match, it's much thinner/more pliable than the old space-age Velcro we're all used to. You could change out the diamondback spots for something with more grip, or spots with standard canvas, or mix it up, grit mix on the outter pontoons and diamonback on the middle, etc...

PG said...

"An idea I had for future mats would be interchangeable deck patches. I've noticed a new type of Velcro type material out there that could be a good match, it's much thinner/more pliable than the old space-age Velcro we're all used to. You could change out the diamondback spots for something with more grip, or spots with standard canvas, or mix it up, grit mix on the outter pontoons and diamonback on the middle, etc..."

First of all, the term "old space-age velcro" is hysterical. I've never felt so old in my life!

But, I have thought about interchangable deck patches with Velcro. Adhere the the hook (non-fuzzy) side of the Velcro to the deck, and use it "open-faced" as the grippy wetusit non-skid. Then stick on a mellower gripping material to the deck for non-wetsuit use.

Is the new Velcro you're talking about this stuff?

http://www.popsci.com/node/9642

Photos By Nathan Backous said...

Nah, this is different stuff. A couple of the straps that came with my new Xtracycle kit have this very fine velcro-esque system. The straps are very supple/thin but the adhesion seems very good. The hook end doesn't seem as likely to collect fuzz.