Sunday, December 14, 2014

Fat Bike Demo Day (and more ERB as well)

This weekend, our friendly local Trek store had a fat bike demo. We had a pretty full weekend at home, but I managed to get out to Alum late Saturday morning. Alas, all the Large and XL bikes were out, leaving only a medium Pugs available to ride:

Two sizes too small for me, but I got tired of standing around waiting and took it for a quick spin. Compared to the Moonlander I test rode a few years back, it was quite a bit better, more like a mini Krampus and less like riding a beach ball bouncing down a flight of stairs. Still, the 3.8" tires didn't seem to give more cushion than my 29+ tires, and it didn't seem to have quite the indomitable rollover of the bigger wheels.

It would have been nice to try a bike closer to my size, but when one of the Trek guys pointed out that one of the Large models had been out since they opened (2.5 hours ago), I gave up went home. The demo rider should be courteous, but the bike shop guys oughta mention a time limit as well.

Everyone seems to rave about fat bikes, but until Central Ohio gets a big network of snowmobile trails and a lot more snow in the winter, I think a 29+ is better for me in pretty much every situation. Which has me still thinking about the Chinese Ti option, rather than making an effort to get out to the second demo session today.

This morning was pretty mild, so I had planned to take the VO for a spin. But when I got out to the garage, I could feel my ERB pulling at me, ready to go. I didn't fight it very hard:

It's just a fun, spirited bike to ride. I just got my latest issue of Bicycle Quarterly, which is a proponent of flexible frames and "planing." Every time I read through BQ, I get an urge to convert ye Olde Trek to 650B with some high quality tires. This month, I gave in, so my winter project will be some Loup Loup pass tires, new brakes, and new wheels on my Trek. We'll see how 1980s thin steel tubing spec compares against the engineered spring of the ERB.

Today, I scouted out my favorite stealth camping spot, already dreaming of spring and camping trips:

This is a pretty good configuration for how I am likely to ride the ERB: wide bars and powerful brakes, good for short, athletic rides around town. After about an hour, though, I start wishing for more hand positions than my riser bar provides.

I did take the Camargue for a quick spin when I got home:

After getting rid of the too fat Big Ben tires and adjusting the brakes and fenders, the VO is back to its usual sprightly, nimble self. This is so close to being dialed in that I'm almost ready to wrap the bars. Almost.

And then I took the Razzo for a quick spin up the street as well. So smooth and comfortable, it's hard to see how a Ti frame could better it... even if it would let me utilize my growing collection of 29+ tires.

But then I look at that short head tube and weird oversize head tube/standard fork junction, and think I can do better.

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