Sunday, February 16, 2014

Krampus first ride

I've had my Krampus built up for about a week now, but extreme cold, darkness, and work have kept me from doing anything more than riding up and down the block. Conditions looked to be great for my first real ride on Sunday morning: cold but not terribly so (21F), and the trails were nicely packed, courtesy of our local fat bike crew. I headed to P1 full of optimism.

My first sign of things to come was when I dropped my chain in the parking lot, about 10 feet away from my car.

In building up the frame, I had found out I didn't have the correct size N-gear jump stop on hand (this widget prevent the chain from falling towards the frame). Normal steel frames take a 28.6mm size, but the Krampus's oversized tubes called for the next size up, which I didn't have in my parts bin.  Instead, I bodged up something out of an old front derailer mount and some random piece of steel I bent into shape:

Compared to real jump stop, the steel plate was quite small, but I figured, how bad can it be?

Pretty bad, it turns out.

I somehow made it the first quarter mile or so into the trail without any issues, but then I dropped my chain. Again. And again. And again. I saw this a lot:

Did you know that when a Krampus drops a chain to the inside, the tire is so fat that the chain will jam between the chainstay and the tire and lock the rear wheel up? Then you can't even effectively push the bike. Good times.

In between dropping the chain, pushing/sliding, and swearing, I did get to actually ride the bike a bit:

But I couldn't really get a feel for how the bike worked with me. Actually, I think there were three things working against me: the chain guide, a dry chain that was maybe chainsucking, and poor shifting. Yes, this really argues for a single speed setup, but I'm hoping to be able ride the big K at hilly trails like Mohican, so I'll need gears for that.

Needless to say, I cut my ride short and looped back through the evac routes to get back to the parking lot.

This afternoon, I spent a happy half hour in the work shop, sawing, grinding, bending and drilling a new plate that was larger and should work better:

Incredibly, this didn't even work on the repair stand. I could pedal slowly and watch the chain come off... the problem is, the plate is too far back, and the chain was coming off ahead of it, due to the slight lateral movement of the chainrings.

Finally, I gave up, pulled the jump stop off my FSR, and shimmed it out to fit:

Notice how it sits farther forward on the chain ring. Real jump stop in place, chain lubed, and shifting mostly adjusted, a quick ride seemed to work OK, but I'll have to try it again on a more extensive test ride to be sure.

All this, and I think I lost my favorite cold weather gloves at the trailhead parking lot to boot. Altogether, not a great day of biking.


  1. Do you have any updated opinions on the Soma Oxford bar you used before?

    Hope it's ok to bring up an old story. :)

  2. (Anon is referring to this post:

    In general, I still like it. However, I find myself leaning towards my Surly Open Bar more lately--I really like the extra width it provides (over 4" wider). Too bad it doesn't have the classic look of the Oxford bar!

  3. Me again, thanks for the reply.
    I am also drawn to the classy looks of the Oxford and Albatross bars.

    Maybe the VO tourist bar is worth looking at, only $23 and 3cm wider than the Oxford.

    1. The VO bar is wider, but the sweep is quite different: 60* vs. 90* for the Soma and Alba. It actually looks more like the bend on the Open Bar, but not nearly as wide (but with a nicer shiny finish)


Clem Again

Regular reader(s) may recall that I journeyed up to Ann Arbor to buy a Rivendell Clem Smith Jr last summer. That particular bike ride didn&#...