Sunday, January 14, 2018

Note to Self: Fatbikes are Slow

Some of my blog posts are a sort of public service, some are purely financially motivated, and some are a sort of online scrapbook. Every now and then, however, I make a post that is basically just for me. Something to read to remind myself of something.

This is one of those posts. It's for me to read whenever I think about buying a fatbike, as I did over most of the Christmas break.

What I want to remind myself is: fatbikes are slow. Not slow in an enjoyable, leisurely cruise with the family sort of way, but slow in a crawling, painful, struggle sort of way. A way where, during today's fatbike ride, I literally got off the bike and checked to make sure a brake wasn't dragging (they were not)

In some ways, I'm getting wiser about burning money on bike junk. The old me would have ordered a fatbike this Christmas, ridden it a few times, and realized how slow they were (not trusting my memories of my Gravity Bullseye, Salsa Mukluk, or Raleigh Pardner... clearly I have a ways to go to achieve wisdom).  The ever-so-slightly wiser me instead borrowed a fatbike from a tall friend for today's ride.  My friend Sean loaned me his Charge Maxi while he's trying out my Niner ROS B+:

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Karate Monkey Surgery

I've often expressed how much I like my Surly Karate Monkey. It's one of the best riding frames I've come across: it's generic 4130 frame is livelier than my Niner (853) or Ritchey (Logic) or later Gunnar (True Temper OX). Short chainstays make for nimble handling, and the tire clearance is great.

But... I've never really liked the appearance. The proportions are all wrong. With the extended, braced seat tube, the amount of exposed seat post relative to the seat tube is much too low. I much prefer mountain bikes with a strongly sloping top tube and a lot of exposed post, like a vintage Kona or WTB frame. I'm sure Surly has a reason for this brace, and I'm guessing it involves a 300 pound rider with the grace of a water buffalo who lands jumps while seated. Since I'm a 175 pound, careful old guy who rarely jumps, I think the brace is overkill.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Fleet Update, Again

I'm trying to keep my blog limping along with at least a post a month. Times like now, when I'm not feeling particularly inspired, it's time for a clock punching fleet update. As almost always, listed in order of most liked to on the way out:

I haven't been riding my BMC Monstercross enough--well, that's true of all my bikes lately--but whatever bike I'm riding on the road, I usually wish I was on the BMC. Lots of tire clearance, a lively but not noodly frame, good brake, and a spot-on riding position. Just a fine bike to ride. I keep wanting to use it as my around town bike, with gears and flat bars, but then I miss my drop bar bike. I saw a 65cm frameset for sale a while back for a nice price, but I was too slow (and I hesitated about having two of the same bike in my stable)

Saturday, October 7, 2017

New Ride: Traitor Wander

I've been on a bike buying binge this fall. I spent most of the summer selling bikes: the Raleigh Pardner went to Indianapolis, the Raleigh Kodiak went back to Raleigh, the Rockhopper became a winter beater for a local, and my old Raleigh Technium is hanging from the garage rafters, waiting in vain for another Technium fan. At one point this year, I was down to just two bikes: my Karate Monkey and my Black Mountain Monstercross.

Of course, that situation couldn't last. As mentioned in my previous post, I picked up a Niner ROS9 to handle my hard charging mountain biking duties, and now the KM is back to its normal rigid and single lifestyle. For a while, I ran my BMC as my city/camping bike, but that didn't take. I like to have a lightly loaded road bike for solo rides, and something good for running errands: upright position, racks and fenders and baskets, that I don't mind banging on bike racks.

Which brings us to my latest buy, a Traitor Wander frameset.

Traitor bills this as a touring type bike, built around a modern semi-compact geometry and disc brakes. My build leans more towards an upright city bike:

Monday, October 2, 2017

Niner ROS9 First Ride

After I returned the Raleigh Kodiak, my bike fund was again flush. Temporarily. I came across a reasonably priced Niner ROS9 frame on ebay. I was actually looking for another SIR9 for a another 650B+ conversion--I kind of miss my previous one--but I figured the ROS9 will let me do the same thing while trying a more modern geometry package.

Plus, it was purple, had a huge head tube, and came with a dropper post. All good.

My build got off to a slow start. There were two change points that had me worried going in: my rear wheel had to be converted from quick release to through axle, and I had to increase my fork's travel from 100mm to 120mm. The wheel change turned out to be dead easy, taking less than five minutes. The fork travel change, on the other hand...  I remember some Rock Shox forks used to have a U turn knob to change your travel. Super easy to adjust. But probably to save cost and weight, X fusion relies on a spacer on the spring shaft to control travel. Taking the fork apart to get to the spacer was straightforward, though I had to order a $9 special tool from ebay. But the spacer was held in by a pressed in pin. I ended up using my friend Marc's drill press as a press to drive out the pin, using a nail I had modified into a press pin. I didn't have the spring shaft well supported while I was pressing the pin out, so I bent it slightly during the operation. Doh. I did successfully get the pin out, and then bent the shaft back as straight as I could. I adjusted the spacer and pressed the pin back in with a bench vise.

I put it all together, and... it seems to work. Nothing blew up or leaked or acted weird in my first loop at Chestnut Ridge, and I'm getting about 110mm of travel:

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Raleigh Kodiak 2 Review

I've been riding more with my fast buddies Chris and Marc this year. Our trail of choice is Chestnut Ridge, which is increasingly deviating from our traditional, hand made twisty singletrack of central Ohio into a roller coaster ride of berms and jumps. My Karate Monkey, which works so well in the tight and twisty stuff, isn't quite so confident when the trail gets fast and steep. I've been changing it how I can: first, I swapped the single speed drivetrain for 1x10, then a longer rigid fork to slack out the front end, then a suspension fork, then a suspension seatpost. This setup works OK, but once I got it into my head that I needed a full suspension bike like Chris and Marc, I found myself scouring the sites online every evening, looking for dually deals.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A Summer Fling with Clem

I had another brief fling with a Rivendell this summer. Occasionally my positive bike budget will intersect with a bike I've been thinking about now becoming available, and that happened this past June. Post-Jones, my bike fund was pretty flush, and the RBW bike list had a fellow looking to sell a Clem Smith Jr, my size, my favorite color, but up in Ann Arbor. Time for a road trip, then.

Note to Self: Fatbikes are Slow

Some of my blog posts are a sort of public service , some are purely financially motivated , and some are a sort of online scrapbook . Every...