Saturday, February 14, 2015

Heart of Steel

Last weekend, we had a break in the weather: dry and temps in the 40s. It felt like spring after what's felt like weeks of temperatures in the teens. Saturday, I took the Camargue on a library and beer run, and Sunday I headed out for one of my favorite loops on ye Olde 650B Trek. The roads were nicely cleared, but some of the smaller trails I'd planned to ride on hadn't been cleared:

I had to push it up this icy hill, then continued to push for probably another half mile along this icy bike path:

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Gravity Bullseye Monster Update

I've had my Gravity Bullseye Monster fatbike out for a few rides so far, venturing out to the local parks in both the snow and the dry.


If I had to sum it up my fatbike experience so far, I would describe it in just one word:

Slow.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Geocaching with Henry

Last week, Henry had a presentation in his class about geocaching. After that, he was all fired up to give it a try, so on Saturday we loaded up some local cache points in my iPhone and hit the road.

To the uninitiated, geocaching looks a lot like someone out for a walk:

I had loaded up five points nearby, but the first two were a bust. Things weren't looking good, but we had better luck with cache #3:

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Getting Fat Over the Winter: Gravity Bullseye Monster Intro

I've finally decided to dip my toes in the waters of the fat bike world. These big tired beasts are one of the few categories of bikes where sales are expanding, but my previous fatbike experiences have been decidedly mixed: my Moonlander demo was 15 minutes of awfulness, like attempting to ride a beach ball down a flight of stairs, while my more recent experience on a too-small Pugs was better, but hard to get a final read on due to the medium sized frame. But mix in too much time reading the mtbr.com fat bike forum, a positive balance in my bike budget, and a beer or two, and a week and $500 after ordering, I got this:

I generally prefer to build my bikes from the frame up, but fatbikes take enough unique parts that this would have been an expensive proposition. Also, I'm curious how my knees will get along with the wide bottom bracket, so I didn't want to make a big investment if it wasn't going to work for me. Finally, I've never seen a strong correlation between what I spend on a bike and how much I enjoy it. Typically the opposite, in fact. Call it the "cheap and cheerful" effect.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

New Fork Weekend (Razzo and Cross Check)

I've been looking at a new fork for my Razzo for a while now. I wanted to experiment a bit with something a little longer than the 465mm Fargo fork I had on there. Plus, I wanted something that blended a bit better with the Razzo's oversized head tube. $78 later on ebay, and I had this 485mm X Lite aluminum fork:

My quick demo ride was a bit uninspiring: the front end felt higher, even though the bars were in the same position relative to the saddle, and the steering wasn't great. But since it was dark and about 7F out, I didn't go too far. I planned for a longer ride today, hoping that would give me a better understanding of the new geometry, but in the event, that didn't work out the way I expected.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Comparo Again: Razzo vs. ERB

I didn't get a whole lot of good weather time to ride over break, but I did manage a few days where it was possible to sneak a ride in while the trail was frozen hard ("good weather" takes on a new meaning in winter, I guess) I was trying to solidify some ideas about wheel size and suspension, so I took my Razzo and ERB and headed to the beginner loop at P1 to repeatedly lap each bike over the short, two mile course.


Big wheel vs. small, suspension vs. rigid, carbon frame vs. ERB, big tire vs. er, bigger tire. Here's how it shook out.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Trek 620 650B conversion

One of my projects over winter break has been to convert to my old Trek 620 to 650B wheels. For mountain bikes, I don't see any special value for 650B wheels over 26", but for road bikes, they really do open up some new possibilities. In my case, my Trek didn't have much clearance for fat tires and fenders with either 27" or 700c wheels. The smaller diameter should fix that.

The key to a good 650B conversion is... math. The 27" wheels I had lately on the Trek have a bead seat diameter of 630mm. A 650B wheel has a BSD of 584mm. Subtract those two numbers (630-584=46) and divide by two to look at the radius (46/2=23) means I need to look for a brake with 23mm more reach than the current calipers I have on there. My current brake reach is about 47mm (front) and 53mm (rear), meaning I need a brake caliper capable of 70~75mm.

I ordered up the parts earlier this month, just about doubling the initial $300 I spent on the Trek:

Did it work? I'll save you the heartache of anticipation right now, and tell you it transformed the Trek into my new favorite bike. Read on.