Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Skating on Thick Ice

Last Saturday, we headed north to visit our future homestead. Our neighbors now have a big hole for their basement, but we still have just an empty lot. We still managed to entertain ourselves on the frozen pond next door:

Kate is talking about buying ice skates for next winter. We'll see!

I also kept busy in the cold with a bit of work in the garage. I sold the Camargue; I'm a bit envious as it's off to warm Arizona. That let me build up the Privateer with the front bag and rack from the VO:

Sunday, January 17, 2016

January Fleet News

I braved a windy, 25 degree January morning to take some of my bike fleet out for a spin. After being sick, then cooped up inside for the last few weeks, it was good to get out for an hour or so.

First up was my Monkey. I bought this frameset on a whim, but it's quickly muscled its way to the top of my mountain bikes:

As I described in my last post, the KM is most things I want in a bike: simple, steel, big tire clearance. Add in a low Q, vintage Suntour XC Pro crank, and it will be hard to top this combo:

It has already pushed the Mukluk out the door--it was sold last weekend, and the Ritchey is on the chopping block.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Fat B Nimble, Fat Be Quick

Just a few days after I built up the 29+ wheel set for my Mukluk, I got my Christmas gifts to myself in the mail. Two updates for my KM:

- a vintage Suntour XC-Pro crank I found on ebay. Now I have two of these as I circle back to 94BCD for my ideal cranks. I love the thin arms and low profile of these cranks--I dropped my Q factor an inch when I changed out the Shimano Deore crank (179mm to 154mm)

- a Panaracer Fat B Nimble tire. For a nominal 29+ tire, this has a smaller casing and is only lightly knobbed. I figured it could fit in the rear of the Monkey, and I was right:

This combination of a steel frame, fat tires, and sharp handling will likely spell the end of my fatbike ownership. The KM is everything I want in a mountain bike right now. Let me explain.

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year and New Wheels

One of my long running projects has been to build a set of better 29+ wheels for my Mukluk. I've been running the fat wheels on regular 29er wheels, about 20mm internal width:

Both Surly and all the punters on the internet say this is a no-no: mid fat wheels should be on a rim of at least 30mm internal width, such as the Blunt 35 rims I have on my Karate Monkey. I haven't really had any issues with the narrower rims, but I wanted to see what a bigger rim would do.

Several months back, I picked up some 44mm Sno Cat SL rims off the iBOB list. A few months ago, I won some Schlick Northpaw fatbike hubs off ebay for a very good price. Finally, I completed my parts inventory by ordering some very reasonably priced double butted spokes this month. Add some beer and afternoon NPR on the radio, and I was ready to get building:

Monday, December 21, 2015

Enter the Monkey

As I was doing my usual daily internet bike check a few weeks back, I came across a great deal on a Surly Karate Monkey frameset. I jumped on it, even though I need yet another steel/rigid/single speed/29er not at all. I had an idea that I might be able to cram a 29+ in the rear of the Monkey, potentially obsoleting both my Mukluk and my Ritchey.

Turns out, even with "Fatties Fit Fine" clearance, it's just a bit tight back there for a 29+ tire. My Knard would spin, but it was very close. Since the Dirt Wizard is measured to run a bit smaller bead to bead, I traded my Titec H bar for a new DW, only to find that while the casing may be smaller, the big cornering knobs rub on the chainstays.

This setback really took the wind out of my sails. I had grand visions that I could possibly dimple the chainstays a bit more to get the clearance I needed, but I don't think there's enough material back there to make this feasible (I also had an idea to cut off the stupid looking set tube brace, but I doubt I'll get brave enough). I started pushing the Monkey on my buddy Sean, who is my height and has not a single steel/rigid/single speed/29er in his garage. While Sean was hemming and hawing, I got bored and went ahead and finished the build last weekend:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Rolling Along (and the Privateer)

The big news in our neck of the woods is that our kids will get redistricted next year, changing up their elementary school. Under the current plan, they would go to Wyandot Elementary, so a few weekends ago, I took the kids there on a playground familiarization trip:

I was riding my Camargue, which is handily squashing my idea to have the New Albion Privateer take over its role. Better tire clearance, longer chainstays, and I like the handling better. It's too bad the NAP is a little handier to pedal.