Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Day: Raleigh Updates and a New Niner

First off, Merry Christmas to all my B&P reader(s). We had an unusually warm Christmas day, so after opening presents (making the kids wait until 7:00am), playing new board games, etc., I headed out after lunch for a quick spin and some quiet. Jodi got me some new medium-heavy riding gloves that were just right for our temps in the low 40s (I now have four different pairs of warm gloves to span riding from the 50s to the teens).

I've done a bit of updating on my mid 80s Raleigh Technium:

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

B+ Monkey

Despite what my wife might say about my wardrobe, I try to keep up with some trends. While my dress pants are mostly unfortunately pleated, I did take the dive and order up some 27.5+ wheels for my Karate Monkey. Everyone is saying that these "B+" wheels are the Next Big Thing. The theory is they'll combine the traction and comfort of a 29+ wheel with the the agility of a standard 29er, while being able to fit in most 29er frames. Unlike, say, supply side economics, this is a theory that might actually hold up.

I didn't initially intend to try this on my KM. I originally had picked up a brand new Soma B side for the very low price of $238 from ebay seller xtremebikeandsport. They sent me a tracking number, and while I was waiting for my shipment, I ordered up some 650B wheels and B+ tires to go with them. A week later, xtremebikeandsport cancelled my order and tried to get me to say I'd refused the shipment. To quote our president elect, dishonest!

Anyway, with wheels and tires around, might as well mount them up on the Monkey. The first part of the theory of B+ holds up, in that they did indeed fit:

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Dying of the Light

We've had a strange spell of warm weather around here, so for the last week I've been jumping on my bike for a short ride as soon as I get home from work. On Wednesday, Sam joined me a quick spin over to the Metro Park:

I was riding my Rockhopper in its latest state, with Surly Open Bars giving a perfect position for lazy rides around the neighborhood. I liked this bike with drop bars, but it's also working really well like this. Somehow, the cheapie 700c 'cross fork gives it very neutral, even steering. I'm curious to load up the basket and see how it works then.

Sam was excited to explore this dry lake bed:

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Drop that Karate Monkey!

I was pretty darn satisfied with my drop bar Rockhopper, which of course meant it was time to pull it apart and use the parts elsewhere. I've had a hankering for a drop bar mountain bike lately. I thought the KM would stretch me out too far, but the Tape Measure of Truth told me it could actually be a bit shorter than the Rockhopper, with the right stem. So time to get to it:

I'm in a fit of downsizing, so I'm also planning for my KM to take over my fixed gear duties. I don't ride fixed much these days, so this should be good enough:

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Rockhopper Updated. Several Times.

Regular reader(s) might recall I picked up a '98 Rockhopper off CL this summer for just $50:

After fixing the various drivetrain issues, I rode it around more or less stock for a bit, but then I decided to try it as a neighborhood cruiser:

For some reason--maybe due to "comfort bike" factor of a suspension fork on a city bike, this build didn't really gel for me. That's when things got a bit more interesting. I enjoyed the way the frame rode, but wanted a bit more off road capability than the noodly Indy fork could provide. News flash: twenty year old elastomer forks don't work that well. Digging into my parts bin, I figured a non suspension corrected, high offset fork from a Singular Gryphon might make it into a workable 69er:

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Raleigh Technium 650b conversion

After my relatively successful third try into the world of 650b road bike conversions, I had to try out my new wheels on my 1986 Raleigh Technium. The Technium, as students of dead end bike technologies are apt tell you, has the three main tubes made of aluminum and bonded into steel lugs, which connect to a steel rear triangle and steel head tube. The hope was to get the lively feel of 531 steel with the light weight of aluminum. I can't speak to the weight--the complete bike has always felt rather hefty--but it is a lovely, flexy bike to ride. How would that match up with fat 650b wheels?

Very nicely, as it turns out:

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Fleet Update

My reader(s) have surely been clamoring for an updated overview of my bike fleet, so let's jump right in, shall we?

As always, bikes are posted in descending order of how much I like them at this moment:

1. Surly Karate Monkey (2012, XL):

"Wait," you sputter, "where is THE JONES?"

Not even top three.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

650B, Third Time the Charm?

For a wheel size that has been around for decades, rim makers have struggled to make a decent 650B rim. 650B has many attractions: it may allow you to squeeze fatter tires into a racing or sport frame, and there are some fine tires in that size. But it seems there are issues making a rim that fits easily with 650B tires.

My first attempt at 650B was with my Rawland rSogn. It was a great frame, both lively riding and practical, but both the rims and the tires were mediocre to bad. The Panaracer Col de Vie tires were somewhat sluggish, but the Velocity Synergy rims were downright bad: with a bead well that was too deep, it was almost impossible to get the tire evenly seated and rolling true (by the way, if you have an XL rSogn you want to sell, let me know).

650B try 2 was on my old Trek 620. This time, I had lovely, supple Compass Loup Loup Pass tires, but the rims were even worse. The Pacenti PL23 rims were nearly impossible to get a tire mounted onto. I pinched the front tube five times trying to get the damn tire bead over the rim. This was frustrating enough in my garage, but not something I'll live with on the road.

Is the third time the charm?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My New Workshop

The downside of buying a new house is an additional six years of grinding debt. The upside is my bike workshop has noticeably improved. Our garage has a nice bumpout in the back that makes a great shop area. We had to add some electrical outlets to the garage (it turns out the one outlet that Pulte provided wasn't quite enough), so after repairing and mudding that drywall patch, I painted it blank white and enlisted some help to liven up my shop area even more.

I told the kids they could paint what they liked. They thought for a moment and got to work:

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Down on Jones Street

After a month of moving related activities, I had a free Sunday morning to head out mountain biking. Alas, Saturday night rains soaked the trails, so I hit the road on my Jones early Sunday morning for a library run:

Thursday, August 11, 2016


Just before we moved, I picked up a '98 Rockhopper off CL. It was so:

Not a bad find overall for $50, but there were clearly some issues that needed addressing:

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Road Bike Update: New Albion Privateer and Raleigh Technium

I had intended to do a post updating my thoughts on each of my bikes. I got the Jones update done, but now I'm already deviating from that plan by combining two bikes into one post. But, as I rode my New Albion Privateer and Raleigh Technium this spring, I couldn't help comparing and contrasting them:

Living (temporarily) with my parents has many nice features beyond free rent and inter-generational quality time: they live close enough to my work that I can easily bike commute. The (non-drive side!) shots above are from my "long" route to work, just eight or so miles of quiet country roads. Besides commuting time, I'm finding more quality road time than mountain biking time lately. The roads around here are new to me, and better than around Dublin: hillier, for one. And, it takes about 20 extra minutes to drive to any mountain biking trail I usually go to. So I've been pulling out each of these bikes almost in turn for road duties. How do they compare?

Really, I Could Stop Anytime

So here I am, homeless, sitting in my parent's basement, most of our worldly goods boxed up elsewhere as we squeeze seven people and ten cats into one house... but I don't let that slow my daily Craigslist scanning down. Not me. I've had an itch for another vintagey mountain bike, and ended up getting this for just $50:

It looks to be from '98 or so. Not "vintage" in terms of long chainstays and slack angles, or vintage in terms of pre-suspension, but a nice XC bike from before full suspension took over. By this point, Specialized had moved their Stumpjumpers to all aluminum, so this RH has a pretty nice Ritchey Logic "Nitanium" steel frame. I'm hoping it will ride nicely. I can't really tell, because the rear derailer is twisted and the chain is shot. It will bide its time here in my dad's shop until we can move into our new place.

I'm also kind of looking for a tandem. Good thing the new garage is big.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Henry Meets John Bryan

Henry has been showing a lot more interest in mountain biking this summer, warming my fatherly heart. He's had a bit of experience riding off road in the past, but he's getting old enough and big enough that he's capable of more trail riding.

Of course, me being me, the first order of business was getting his bike in order. I had dreamed of building him up a rigid 26+ bike made around an XS Surly 1x1 frame or something similar, but in the end we just pulled the fenders off his/Jodi's Trek and mounted up some knobbies in place of the slicks:

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Bike Update: Jones

Five months in, and I figure it's time for an update on the Jones. I haven't ridden it as much as I would like--moving has kept me busy this spring--but I'm well beyond the happy new bike stage. So what's it like?

Really, really good... but not perfect. Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first, shall we?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

On the Aviation Trail

I read in the Dispatch a few weeks back that the National Parks Service (or someone) had created an Aviation trail around Dayton and western Ohio, to celebrate and encourage learning about the big impact this little part of the country has had on aviation (Wright brothers, Neil Armstrong to start...) AND, if you got your little card stamped at seven of the places, you could get a free teddy bear (a Willbear, get it?). In the interest of comparing the effects of Honda Pilot and Honda Odyssey third row seating on motion sickness in nine year olds, I borrowed an Odyssey from work and Saturday morning we were off... after loading up the Odyssey with DVDs for the rear entertainment system.

Our first stop was the Wright-Dunbar center to get our passport and first stamp:

where they also had a parachute museum:

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Caesar's Creek 1, Me 0

I'm not sure why I keep going to Caesar's Creek. Maybe for a change of pace, maybe for an old school trail feel, maybe for the easy drive down I-71, but often when I go there, the experience isn't great.

Sunday was to be no different.

The strong storms that rained out our Clippers game on Saturday night seemed to have mostly missed CC, so I thought the trail conditions would be OK. I loaded up and headed south early Sunday morning.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Kate and I Visit the New House, and Henry Eating

Last weekend, I headed out for a spur of the moment ride, only pausing long enough to announce, "I'm going for a ride!" Kate immediately piped up that she wanted to come, so we hooked up the Picolo and hit the trail:

I think Kate is the only one of the kids that is (at least occasionally) a net output gain when I pull her behind me. She can really pedal!

We stopped to look for muskrats in the ditch, but no luck:

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Insert Post Title Here

My recent blog activity has matched my recent riding activity: not much at all. You know the usual excuses: a stretch of cooler, rainy weather, busy with work, and getting ready to move. I've shipped off most of my bikes to my parent's garage, leaving just two in my ready fleet:

The Jones is now single:

Riding buddy Chris converted his full sus 29er to single speed this spring, and he has an idea to tackle Mochican State Park on single speeds this year. Perhaps he doesn't recall this trail starts with an eight mile climb. But, it's nice to have a stupid goal, so I single-ated my Jones to ride along with him.

You may notice a few other changes to Jonsie:

Sunday, April 17, 2016

New Bike, Rebuilt Bike, Old Playground

We had a gorgeous weekend here, so we made sure to get out and enjoy it. After getting sunburned (in April!) at the kids' morning soccer games, I took my recently acquired Trek 510 out for an afternoon jaunt. I had rebuilt this into my image of a kind of bike path cruiser:

I was hoping to find that this bike planed like a triple seven, but my hour plus spin was a bit inconclusive. When I had purchased the bike, 3/4 of the bearings were quite loose (the front hub seemed OK), and I adjusted or replaced everything. However, there's still a clunk or knocking from the freewheel, which, combined with the noisy drivetrain, made the ride less than satisfying.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

More Jones, and Fleet Update

I had last week off for Spring Break, which consisted of working madly to get our house ready for sale this month (I was almost happy to get back to work this week). In between spreading mulch, loading a POD, and rebuilding our back patio, I had a chance to take advantage of our unusually dry weather and hit the trails. Alum P2 was up first:

This was my first real ride (ie, not just around the local Dublin trails) on the Jones, and it went really well. The handling that I liked on Jonsie was still apparent: it combines stability through rock and roots, with confidence inspiring handling pointed down, and still keeps a nimble feel in the tight and slow stuff. I've never had another bike that could master all of this so capably.

Of course, there were some nits to pick:

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


March is the long, dark tea time of the soul for Ohio mountain bikers. The trails have lost the good freeze of winter, but haven't dried out yet. Spring rains and the freeze/thaw cycle make our trails a peanut buttery mess until April, if we're lucky; May, if we're not.

So, time to hit the road. Eager to ride my new Jones, I jumped on a pair of super fat Schwalbe slicks that came across one of my bike lists. I mounted up the Big Ones and was ready to roll:

My first impression was all good, but that quickly changed.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

70 degrees in February

Do you know those weeks where it's nice all week and then rains on the weekend? We finally had the opposite experience here; nestled in between two cold weeks, it was nearly 70 on Saturday and low 60s today. With weather like that, I had to get out and ride, three rides on Saturday:

Ride one was a morning loop on my now 30 year old Raleigh Technium:

I think these old Techniums are underappreciated bikes. It rides quite nicely and has decent tire clearance. It feels heavy when I get it down from the ceiling, but moves along with vigor. It's the most comfortable drop bar bike I've ridden. Not bad for $25!

The kids spent the morning playing in the creek behind our house:

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Skating on Thick Ice

Last Saturday, we headed north to visit our future homestead. Our neighbors now have a big hole for their basement, but we still have just an empty lot. We still managed to entertain ourselves on the frozen pond next door:

Kate is talking about buying ice skates for next winter. We'll see!

I also kept busy in the cold with a bit of work in the garage. I sold the Camargue; I'm a bit envious as it's off to warm Arizona. That let me build up the Privateer with the front bag and rack from the VO:

Sunday, January 17, 2016

January Fleet News

I braved a windy, 25 degree January morning to take some of my bike fleet out for a spin. After being sick, then cooped up inside for the last few weeks, it was good to get out for an hour or so.

First up was my Monkey. I bought this frameset on a whim, but it's quickly muscled its way to the top of my mountain bikes:

As I described in my last post, the KM is most things I want in a bike: simple, steel, big tire clearance. Add in a low Q, vintage Suntour XC Pro crank, and it will be hard to top this combo:

It has already pushed the Mukluk out the door--it was sold last weekend, and the Ritchey is on the chopping block.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Fat B Nimble, Fat Be Quick

Just a few days after I built up the 29+ wheel set for my Mukluk, I got my Christmas gifts to myself in the mail. Two updates for my KM:

- a vintage Suntour XC-Pro crank I found on ebay. Now I have two of these as I circle back to 94BCD for my ideal cranks. I love the thin arms and low profile of these cranks--I dropped my Q factor an inch when I changed out the Shimano Deore crank (179mm to 154mm)

- a Panaracer Fat B Nimble tire. For a nominal 29+ tire, this has a smaller casing and is only lightly knobbed. I figured it could fit in the rear of the Monkey, and I was right:

This combination of a steel frame, fat tires, and sharp handling will likely spell the end of my fatbike ownership. The KM is everything I want in a mountain bike right now. Let me explain.

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year and New Wheels

One of my long running projects has been to build a set of better 29+ wheels for my Mukluk. I've been running the fat wheels on regular 29er wheels, about 20mm internal width:

Both Surly and all the punters on the internet say this is a no-no: mid fat wheels should be on a rim of at least 30mm internal width, such as the Blunt 35 rims I have on my Karate Monkey. I haven't really had any issues with the narrower rims, but I wanted to see what a bigger rim would do.

Several months back, I picked up some 44mm Sno Cat SL rims off the iBOB list. A few months ago, I won some Schlick Northpaw fatbike hubs off ebay for a very good price. Finally, I completed my parts inventory by ordering some very reasonably priced double butted spokes this month. Add some beer and afternoon NPR on the radio, and I was ready to get building:

Billie Bar Review, with bonus Pine Tar Soap review

I placed a Rivendell order the other day to try out a few new products. My main purchase was a new bar for my Fuji. The Billie bar is an evo...