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.

Speaking of the Ritchey, I had spare time on Saturday, so I cranked up Pandora and threw a build together. Not as a mountain bike, but as a townie:

I stretched the chainstays out, because, well, why not? A new chain was barely long enough to cover the 44t/36t cog combination:

This bar setup will never win any internet beauty contests, but it's one of my favorites:

The main hand position of the On One Mary is great, and the inboard bar ends give me another position to stretch out on.

I really like the hydraulic discs of this build, and the steel frame gives it a nice, lively ride. However, I really don't like the front end geometry on the road: the slack head angle gives it too much wheel flop, making for heavy, slow steering. Regardless, the Ritchey is a bit too flashy to use as a commuter, and it lacks the braze ons for racks and fenders anyway. If I had another pair of V brake drop bar levers, I might think about a drop bar mtb build while I'm waiting for the frame to sell.

My only pair of V brake levers is currently being used on my New Albion Privateer:

I changed this over from my usual fixed gear to a more all around type bike. I really like the Albastache bar for all types of riding, though it's still a touch low in this setup:

Cyclocross knobbies don't seem like the hot ticket for pavement riding, but these Schwalbe Racing Ralphs are very supple and fast feeling, even with the knobby buzz. Also, I'm waiting to wear these out to replace them with some Compass tires:

The low trail fork is proving just OK for me. I don't have the correct loading for it here--a light rear load and nothing on the front is pretty much opposite of what it should be. It handles well enough, but perhaps is a bit darty. Aside from that, the NAP is a nice riding frame. Not super flexy and lively, but clearly more enjoyable to ride than the Camargue.

Like the Ritchey, the Camarge is quietly waiting to be sold. I stole the wheels off it for the Ritchey build, but here it is last month:

I really loved the kickstand until I put a front bag on it. Then, the weight of the bag causes the front wheel to flop over very easily when it's parked, making it easy to fall over. The Camargue isn't super lively, but it will make a better interim town bike than the Ritchey.

No pictures of the $25 Raleigh: I'm storing it in my parents' garage while we're downsizing for our move this spring. I figured I wouldn't be riding it much this winter.

I'm at five bikes now, but I see a path to get down to three:

1) sell the Ritchey, leaving the KM for all mountain bike duties

2) keep the Raleigh for solo road rides

3) probably sell the Camargue and NAP and roll those into one bike. Maybe it's a pipe dream, but I'd like something that's tough enough to carry camping loads with the kids, but sporty enough that I look forward to riding it unladen. I'm looking at a few candidates:

- Soma Wolverine (good: nice riding, by all accounts, discs, good tire clearance, it's orange; bad: it's basically a disc version of my NAP)

- Rivendell Clem (good: big tire clearance, big chainstays, it's a Riv; bad: maybe too stiff for how I want to use, top tube probably too long for Albastache bars)

- Brooklyn Bikes Bedford: (good: longish chainstays, decent clearance, looks like lighter tubing than the Clem; bad: I have to buy the bike and get rid of a bunch of cheap parts, weak caliper brakes).

Something to think about this winter.


  1. It looks like that Rivendell step through frame you had recently has fallen by the wayside. Good job on getting down to three. I've been unable to get that low for some time, but maybe this will be the year to make some progress.

    1. Yeah, I just never warmed up to the step thru frame design. Maybe in 20 years when I'm even less flexible.

      We'll see if I'm all talk about getting down to three.


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