Monday, September 7, 2015

Fleet Update, Weekend Riding

Lots of riding this weekend, but mostly I wasn't carrying my camera, or didn't want to stop for pictures, so not much in the way of pictures. Still, I'm trying to keep my blog chugging along with at least a post a week, so I'll just leave a few notes about my bike fleet and what they did this weekend.

As is my new practice, bikes are shown from my current favorite to least:

Ritchey P-29er:

Several rides in, and I still love the way this frame rides and looks. Sunday, I took the Ritchey to Chestnut Ridge for a ride with a small group of friends. This was a decidedly mixed group, with some experienced riders that haven't been out much lately, to some younger guys that didn't have much experience, to one fellow who had never been on a trail. Er, I probably should have picked an easier trail than CR if I had known. Sorry. So I mostly had to putter along at the group's pace, but whenever I had a chance to open it up, the Ritchey sprang to life and I could charge down the trail in a cloud of dust.

I'm mostly sorted on the build for the Ritchey, though I need to get my new hydro brakes on at some point. But, I have in my head this might be a fun bike for a drop bar conversion. Hmmm.

Raleigh Technium:

The Raleigh moves up my pop chart in part due to punching way above its weight class. Just $25, but it rides nicely. I prefer it quite a bit more than the Rawland Nordavinden I had previously. At the very least, these 30 year old Weinmann brakes are better than anything I had on the Rawland.

Sharp eyed reader(s) will note I have gears on the Raleigh now, in place of the fixed gear. In part, I did this to try out the quality of the Continental tires on the stock 27" wheels (they're just OK), but I also wanted a geared bike for longer weekend rides. The first generation Shimano SIS moves through the gears with some hesitation and then a resounding CHUNK. It's a nice change of pace from the liquid smoothness of the current Shimano stuff.

The oddest thing about the Raleigh is how comfortable it is. Modern drop bar bikes in my XL size usually run an ETT of around 600mm, but the Raleigh's ETT is just 575mm. Yet on a 90 minute ride on Saturday, I was comfortable the whole time, able to use each of the four major zones of the drop bars to good effect (ramps, hoods, hooks, flats). I had just about given up on drops, but now I am rethinking that.

As much as I'm enjoying the Raleigh (just $25!), if I came across a Bridgestone Mile 112 in decent shape, I think it could be replaced pretty quickly.

Salsa Mukluk:

After Sunday's group ride, I met another friend for a few laps of P2 this morning. Alas, this friend hasn't done much biking this year, so we had to bail out part way through the first lap. Left to my own devices, I knocked off a quick but not amazing second lap (41 minutes, my best time ever is 30 minutes).

I enjoy riding the Muk for the most part, but it suffers in comparison to the Ritchey. The overly stiff aluminum tubes don't offer the zing of the skinny steel tubes on the P-29er. During today's ride, I had the idea of a steel fatbike (hmm, maybe Surly's new Wednesday), but before I spend any money in that direction, I want to make sure I can live with the wide bottom bracket. I haven't really ridden the Muk enough this summer to tell for sure. To that end, this afternoon I changed out the Muk's heavier 29+ tires for some more street friendly light knobbies, and added these crazy bar ends inboard of my controls:

My plan is to use the Muk for almost all my rides in the next month or so, and see how I feel as the miles pile on. Library runs, Metro park loops, trail rides... the Muk will be there.

Velo Orange Camargue:

Speaking of library runs, after Saturday's big ride on the Raleigh, I ended up riding the VO down to the library and back (10 miles). It's set up well for this kind of thing, with lots of ways to carry stuff, easy to just hop on and ride. I really like the way it handles, especially when I'm not pulling the bike train. So functionally, it handles well, has lots of places to bolt on useful accessories, checks all my boxes for a utility/city/camping bike... but there's not a lot of love here. I find myself eyeing cheap aluminum hybrids some days. Look at those massively high head tubes! Or maybe I should have jumped on the Rivendell Clem Smith Jr. pre-order bandwagon.

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