Saturday, August 16, 2014

New Bike (Not Mine) and Fleet Notes

I've been on a downsizing swing lately. Again. The Breezer is for sale, though I don't actually expect anyone to buy it. If it were a 29er, it would have been sold long ago, for more money. But an XL 26er? No market there.

Today, I sold my FSR frame and fork to buddy Charles. Charles had been riding another of my ex bikes, a Habanero Ti 26er. A nice frame, but his front Marzocchi fork was blown out, which caused the front end to bounce uncontrollably. He was more or less used to it, but when I tried it briefly at Alum Creek, I was left white faced and shaking. Charles came over today, and we spent a few happy hours this morning tearing down the Habanero and rebuilding the FSR with his parts (seems like half that time was spent adjusting the front derailer... another reason to like 1x drivetrains)

A "before and after" picture would be great right about here, wouldn't it? But in our excitement, we only took an "after" picture:

I led Charles on a shakedown tour of the Dublin singletrack scene. A few short sections of indifferent trail linked up by road miles, but it was still a nice day to be out, especially if you could tune out the sound of the rubbing front derailer.

Selling the FSR leaves me with the Sette as my only mountain bike:

(discounting the Breezer frame hanging on a hook in the garage)

I'm impressed enough with the carbony goodness of the Razzo that I don't think I'll miss the full suspension of the FSR. Of course, all is not perfect with the Razzo: I would prefer the chainstays and top tube a bit shorter, the standover a bit less, and maybe a matching carbon fork. I took care of all that with one fell Paypal swoop, and ordered up an IP-106 carbon frame and matching fork today. So sometime soon the Razzo will be up for sale.

In other fleet news, I'm on the fourth handlebar in the Camargue in my two months of ownership:

It's a Titec H bar:

The Soma Oxford and generic AT-2 bar were both too narrow for me, and the Surly Open Bar came back a bit too much for the Camargue's relatively short top tube. Only a few rides down so far, but the H bar is working OK so far.

Regarding the Camargue, today I also received an email from reader Jonathan. He said:

I love your blog.  As a parent who loves riding, it's always refreshing to come across like-minded folks.
I have a quick question about the Camargue.  I am thinking about selling my Cross Check in favor of a Camargue. I have another bike for the zippy rides, but I was thinking that the Camargue might be a better tourer/off-roader than the Cross Check.
Can you give any insight as to the differences between them?  Do they ride about the same?

Thanks in advance.

I'm lazy, so I'm just going to cut and paste my reply:

Hi Jonathan,

Thanks for the blog feedback, it's always nice to hear that people enjoy it (besides my mom)
Regarding the Camargue vs. the Cross Check, that's something I've been pondering myself lately. I'm in a fleet downsizing mode, just sold my FSR to a buddy this morning, so I've been wondering if I should only keep one of these bikes.

Objectively, the Camargue is a better bike. Much better tire clearance would make it better off road, and I like the handling of the mid trail front end better. The standover is a skosh better, maybe an inch or so, which is nice around town when I'm stopping a lot, and would be nice off road as well. It has all the same braze ons and singlespeedability of the CC, with an extra bottle cage thrown in to boot. And the chainstays are a bit longer, which makes it a bit better with bags.

The flex/planing feel of the frames is about the same to me, I really can't tell any difference. Neither is as nice and springy as my current olde Trek or my previous Rawlands.

On the other hand, I've had the CC longer and have some sentimental attachment to it. It has enough tire clearance for me--I can run a 35~38mm tire with fenders, which is all I want on the road. With this setup, there aren't big gaps around the fenders, which looks nicer. I think the CC looks a bit nicer--I'm disappointed VO used the extra head tube length on the Camargue to just extend the head tube, as opposed to also sloping the top tube up to meet it. It looks odd to my mountain bike/traditional road bike biased viewpoint.

The CC's ETT is longer. My CC seems to run 5mm longer than spec (615mm vs. 610 in the catalog), while the VO is only 600mm. I have to use a 130mm stem on the VO to get my bars where I want. That bugs me a bit.

I'm also starting to be more partial to disc brakes. With the CC, I can buy a Vaya or similar fork and have a front disc, and a bit lower trail. Doing this on the Camargue seems wrong somehow, maybe because the frame and fork are more of an integrated package.

Finally, though, I haven't been particularly happy with the CC when I set up for family duties, so I need to think more about why this is.

So all is not perfect in Camargue land, but I'm still tinkering with it to see how it works for me.

I think part of my issue is that my CC is currently built up like so:

Clean, light, and zippy, it has an unfair advantage over the Camargue, which is loaded down with 10+ pounds of racks, fenders, and lights.

I wanted to create some space in my zippy bikes between the CC and ye Old Trek, so I put drop bars on the Trek:

I've been moving away from drop bars in recent years, but I'm enjoying these again. Suddenly I find myself using the Trek to ride intervals up the short hill in the Metro Park trail. Three tries and I'm done, a good workout.

To recap, I'm slowly getting closer to my ideal of three bikes: the new carbon bike for mountain biking, the Trek for solo road rides, and the Surly and/or Camargue for utility and family rides.

And the Breezer that I can't get rid of.

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