Sunday, August 30, 2015

Salsa Mukluk Update

I haven't written much about my Mukluk since I picked it up earlier this spring, which is mostly due to me using the limited riding time in this very wet summer on my Twin Six, and more recently on my Ritchey. Also, the Muk had some shifting issues that I was struggling with. I made a few changes over the last week that got it back ready for some trail time:

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Going Slow

This summer, I've been doing a lot more biking with the kids on their own bikes, and a lot less where I drag the kids around in the bike train. This has good and bad points: it's satisfying to see the kids gain confidence on their own bikes, but I may miss this extra strength training when I hit a big ride like Mohican. One thing I have noticed is that the Albastache bar on the VO isn't ideal for going slow with the kids--the main hand position, up in the forward curves, is a little too leaned forward when I'm going slow. Sliding my hands back on the bars brings me more upright, but that position doesn't have any brake access. That's not ideal when I'm riding with kids who stop randomly and frequently.

As much as I like the Albastache bar, after Kate's S24O last weekend, I was out in the garage changing things around. This isn't what I started with, but I ended up with this:

It's my Surly Open bar paired with (carbon fiber!) bar ends on the forward curves. It doesn't have the smooth good looks of the Albastache (though I still like it), but so far it's doing everything I want it to:

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Kate's S24O

Up to now, both boys have had a solo overnight camping trip, but Kate hasn't... and she hasn't been shy about reminding me of this fact. Friday was the annual Persied meteor shower campout at Blues Creek Nature Preserve up past Ostrander, and I decided this would be Kate's trip. I got home from work, we had dinner, threw our gear in the trailer, and hit the road:

Monday, August 10, 2015

B&P Vacation

I had a quiet, efficient, and comfortable early production lot 2016 Pilot, with one touch second row seating and a nine inch Blu-ray DVD player, reserved for a long weekend, so I took a few days off work and we had a small road trip. Jodi and the kids headed out a few days earlier to spend time with her folks, and early on Thursday morning I headed out to meet them. I parked the new Pilot next to our old one at her dad's place:

Yes, the new one is better in every way, please see your friendly local Honda dealer. From this base in New Philadelphia, we improvised a vacation that had a lot of playgrounds, and a lot of bikes.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Best Looking Bike Ever

Being an engineer, most of my bike buys are actually rather carefully planned and thought through. This geometry, that tubing, those features... this usually ensures I have competent bikes, but sometimes they're missing that little spark. There are frames out there that have caught my eye, but I've always demurred because of cost, or practicality, or overlap with the fleet. And then sometimes, there are exceptions.

Last weekend, after I got home from a ride on my Twin Six with some friends at Chestnut Ridge, I was idly flipping through my usual bike sites. I surfed over to to check out their prices on some hydro brakes, and as I usually do when I come to bike shopping sites, I checked their "frames" section. Turns out, they had a frame that I've always admired, half off, available in only 15" and 21" sizes. Once again, it's nice to be tall. I hemmed for a bit, hawed for a moment, and then ordered it like I knew I would. Ordered on Sunday, delivered from England to Ohio on Wednesday. Most US shippers aren't that fast.

Can you guess what it is?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

New Bikes and an S24O

When I bought Henry's 24" Specialized Hotrock last winter, I hoped it would last through at least this summer. But recently on a whim, I asked him to try a throw a leg over Jodi's 26" wheeled Trek to see if it would fit, and he hasn't stopped riding it since. Since Jodi wants her bike back, I spent some time scouring Craigslist for Henry's next bike. Bike shopping is an onerous task, but it's something I can finally put my well honed skills to use for. A week or so later, we landed here:

It's a 26" wheeled/13.5" frame size Giant Boulder. It has a lousy suspension fork, but Henry finds the trigger shifters easier to use than the twist shifters on his old Hotrock, it's in good shape overall, and he likes the colors. For $100, I think we did pretty well. And it's even steel... though so grossly oversized, it looks more like aluminum. I don't think it's ever going to "plane" for Henry.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Paths to Single Speed

Riding buddy Chris, after moving here to the flatlands of Ohio, is starting to see the light after some drivetrain issues and has asked me about singlespeeds (I can relate: after finally getting a dry spell, I was able to ride Chestnut Ridge yesterday where my geared Mukluk had all kinds of shifting issues. Good thing I had also brought along my single speed Twin Six, but I digress). For Chris's education, I'm making this quick guide to singlespeeding. There are four things he'll have to learn:

1) Gearing: 32x20. Done.

2) Frame material: Steel. Done.

3) Suspension: No. Done.

4) How to tension the chain: well, that's a longer story.

Without a rear derailer, you need some way to keep the chain taunt so it doesn't fly off. Most single speed frames have some sort of gizmo to adjust the distance between the crank and the rear hub, so this length can be adjusted to compensate for different gear combinations while keeping a tight chain. Single speed message boards are filled with discussion about the best way to do this, and here's my take, based on the many, many bikes I've had. These are listed roughly in the order I like them, my favorites to types I will never use:

1) Paragon Swinging Dropouts: As featured on my latest Twin Six:

These check all my boxes: They're easy to adjust, with just two big bolts to loosen. They stay adjusted and don't squeak. The integration into the frame is clean and smooth. The adjustment range is adequate, about 20mm. Wheel removal is quick and easy. As a final bonus, they're made in the US, and replacement dropouts only cost about $15.

Bad points: finding a frame that uses them