Sunday, July 27, 2014

Three Bikes On and Off the Bubble

I'm up to six bikes now, which is about twice my comfort zone. Of course, this has me thinking and scheming about how to rearrange my bike fleet. I'll explain this through three rides on three different bikes:

1) Last weekend, I took my spare parts build Cross Check for a quick spin to the library. I actually had the CC posted for sale, but I set my price on the high side, perhaps subconsciously knowing I didn't really want to sell it. That, and I'm really enjoying the way it rolls on the supple Racing Ralph tires. Those supple tires, though, didn't help when I couldn't bunny hop over the sharp edge where the road had been ground down, pinch flatting my rear tire (I can't bunny hop worth a darn if I'm not clipped in). I got a little nervous when I opened my tool bag to only find a 26 x 2" tube. Luckily, I also had my patch kit, AND the glue hadn't dried, so I successfully patched the tube and carried on.

With only a mini pump to use, my tire didn't have as much air as I normally like. Finally, I had a legitimate use for the public bike work stand near the rec center. I started to pump, only to realize there was no resistance. Maybe this was why:

I carried on, soft tire and all, and had a nice afternoon ride.

So with my Camargue having a solid grip on the utility duties, the CC and ye Olde Trek are left to duke it out for sporty bike duties.

Night Rider's Lament

OK, so there's really not much "lamenting" in this post, but it was a title of an old Garth Brooks song that has stuck with me...

Friday, the local metro park had a night ride. After a cookout at the neighbor's, I loaded up all three kids to head out. Strangely, Henry didn't want to ride his own bike... I think he was a little nervous about riding at night. So for the first time in a long while, I was pulling all three kids:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sette Razzo SC Introduction

I've had my Sette Razzo--my first carbon frame--hanging around for some time. Due to commitments in my weekend schedule, work, and the general crapiness of Oury grips, I wasn't able to take it for a good ride until this weekend. But before I get into the ride details, let's take a closer look at my build and the frame:

Coming off my Krampus, my goal for this was to make a lighter version of that: big tires, smooth riding, but light enough to be a realistic single speed. In that respect, I'm pretty happy how it turned out: the wheels are my Velocity Blunts from the Big K, the front tire is the Knard, the rear is a Mission Vee 2.4. I'm impressed that this frame has the clearance for this big tire:


I'm running it singles speed, with a very humble tensioner:

Just a generic Dimension or Performance push-down style tensioner. Single speed internet riders look down on tensioners in general, and this type in particular, but I've had good luck with it over several years. After trying most of the popular ways to single speed a frame, this tensioner is as good as most and better than some... I'm looking at you, slipping track ends and creaking sliders.

Of course, my Knard has no problem fitting up front:

The tapered head tube with a standard fork isn't the sharpest look in the world, but I want to see how I like this frame before I commit to a new fork that doesn't fit anything else in my garage.

The rear brake cable is internally routed:

I had some worries about "infernal" cable routing, but it couldn't have been easier to set up. The housing went in the top hole and pulled cleanly through until it popped out. The gear cables are also internally routed, but I obviously didn't use those for a single speed build.

I've had very limited experience with carbon frames before this. I demo'd a Gary Fisher Supercaliber four or five years ago, and really didn't like it. It did damp the trail vibrations nicely, but it was just completely dead feeling to my pedaling efforts. On the other hand, when I tested a Trek Superfly more recently, it rode pretty well... as it should, for $4,000.

I headed to P2 this morning, Sette in tow. The trail was a bit slick from Friday's rains, but not too bad.

As a side note, I had no problems with my grips this time. But that's because they were not Ourys:

Anyway, I found quite a bit to like in this frame. It feels like a pretty good steel frame, but much lighter. I say "pretty good" because it doesn't have the snappy, lively flex that I enjoy in the best steel frames, but it's still smooth and responsive, without the too-stiff, jarring feeling of riding an aluminum or poorly designed steel frame.

The Razzo handled like a pretty typical XC 29er: not too quick, but stable. It reminds me of my old Soma Juice, which had a very similar geometry. I could get the front end up, but it was a bit of a struggle. Again, typical of 29er XC geometry. Compared to the Krampus, it was lighter and easier everywhere, so I will say my carbon 29+* (*not quite) experiment was a success.

I did have one issue on today's ride: on a slow, slightly downhill right hand corner, I somehow lost the front wheel and ending up slamming my right side into the ground, hard. I hit hard enough that I had to adjust my stem alignment after I got back up (historical side note: remember back in the days of quill stems when we had to straighten out the stem after every crash?) Looking back at the crash, I would like to blame the Knard on the slick trail, but I think my front end folded under, instead of washing outwards. Maybe my head angle is too steep? (insert rolling eyes icon). Anway, an atypical crash that I'll chalk up to pilot error and rusty skills.

I think the Razzo is a very good, competent bike. That Sette was able to get a lower end carbon frame to ride so well speaks of good design and manufacturing. It looks nice, in a technical, modern sort of way. I find, though, that I'm having a bit of trouble bonding with it. When I go out into the garage in the evening to drink beer and look at bikes, I find my eyes drawn to this guy every time:

I got the urge to build a longer travel 26er, and realized I had most everything on hand to do so, even if that meant using my 29er fork. I can't really say how it rides yet, since I've been having issues with the #$&*! hydraulic brakes, but it sure looks nice.

I'm a skinny tube guy at heart, I guess.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Presenting the B&P Worst Product of the Year Award

How, my reader(s) may ask, can I present a Worst Product of the Year Award when it's only halfway through the year? I can do this because I have found a product so bad, so foul, so hopeless at its simple task, that I am both confident and hopeful that I won't find a worse product in the remainder of the year.


Yes, I'm talking about Oury grips:


Saturday, July 12, 2014

New Park and Bar Hopping

Jodi is off with Henry to visit her friend in Virginia (again), so I'm playacting as a single dad for a long weekend with the twins. Tonight after dinner, we headed out to a new playground. I'm not sure if it's an official city park--it's not on the master list--but it's located in a relatively new sub near Glacier Ridge Elementary, so perhaps the official list isn't updated.

Anyway, new playgound, we had to be there and check it out.

It turns out to be a large area with a few small play areas:

Friday, July 11, 2014

Robin Hood and Little John

Last weekend, the Metro Park had an archery activity. While Kate was staying at my parents, the boys and I loaded up and headed out. Back when I bought Henry's 24" bike, it looked quite big on him. Now it fits him nicely:

Part of that is the new bar and stem I put on, and part is that fact that he's grown over an inch since then.

Anyway, we arrive a bit early, so we stopped at the playground:

Monday, July 7, 2014

Velo Orange Camargue Introduction

I've teased a few shots of this in my last few posts, but now it's time to do a proper introduction of my latest city/utility/touring/family/all rounder bike, my new Velo Orange Camargue. I try to avoid buying new, since the depreciation hurts when I inevitably sell the bike, but the VO pushed so many buttons for me that I couldn't wait for that rare XL frame to show up on ebay someday just to save a few bucks.

Besides, I wasn't happy with how the Breezer was doing as a city bike for me.

I'm too fast with my builds (read that as "impatient") to do a drawn out series of unboxing the bike frame, laying out all my shiny new parts, installing the headset, etc. So I'll just cut to the chase and show how my first build came out: