Saturday, December 30, 2017

Karate Monkey Surgery

I've often expressed how much I like my Surly Karate Monkey. It's one of the best riding frames I've come across: it's generic 4130 frame is livelier than my Niner (853) or Ritchey (Logic) or later Gunnar (True Temper OX). Short chainstays make for nimble handling, and the tire clearance is great.

But... I've never really liked the appearance. The proportions are all wrong. With the extended, braced seat tube, the amount of exposed seat post relative to the seat tube is much too low. I much prefer mountain bikes with a strongly sloping top tube and a lot of exposed post, like a vintage Kona or WTB frame. I'm sure Surly has a reason for this brace, and I'm guessing it involves a 300 pound rider with the grace of a water buffalo who lands jumps while seated. Since I'm a 175 pound, careful old guy who rarely jumps, I think the brace is overkill.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Fleet Update, Again

I'm trying to keep my blog limping along with at least a post a month. Times like now, when I'm not feeling particularly inspired, it's time for a clock punching fleet update. As almost always, listed in order of most liked to on the way out:

I haven't been riding my BMC Monstercross enough--well, that's true of all my bikes lately--but whatever bike I'm riding on the road, I usually wish I was on the BMC. Lots of tire clearance, a lively but not noodly frame, good brake, and a spot-on riding position. Just a fine bike to ride. I keep wanting to use it as my around town bike, with gears and flat bars, but then I miss my drop bar bike. I saw a 65cm frameset for sale a while back for a nice price, but I was too slow (and I hesitated about having two of the same bike in my stable)

Saturday, October 7, 2017

New Ride: Traitor Wander

I've been on a bike buying binge this fall. I spent most of the summer selling bikes: the Raleigh Pardner went to Indianapolis, the Raleigh Kodiak went back to Raleigh, the Rockhopper became a winter beater for a local, and my old Raleigh Technium is hanging from the garage rafters, waiting in vain for another Technium fan. At one point this year, I was down to just two bikes: my Karate Monkey and my Black Mountain Monstercross.

Of course, that situation couldn't last. As mentioned in my previous post, I picked up a Niner ROS9 to handle my hard charging mountain biking duties, and now the KM is back to its normal rigid and single lifestyle. For a while, I ran my BMC as my city/camping bike, but that didn't take. I like to have a lightly loaded road bike for solo rides, and something good for running errands: upright position, racks and fenders and baskets, that I don't mind banging on bike racks.

Which brings us to my latest buy, a Traitor Wander frameset.

Traitor bills this as a touring type bike, built around a modern semi-compact geometry and disc brakes. My build leans more towards an upright city bike:

Monday, October 2, 2017

Niner ROS9 First Ride

After I returned the Raleigh Kodiak, my bike fund was again flush. Temporarily. I came across a reasonably priced Niner ROS9 frame on ebay. I was actually looking for another SIR9 for a another 650B+ conversion--I kind of miss my previous one--but I figured the ROS9 will let me do the same thing while trying a more modern geometry package.

Plus, it was purple, had a huge head tube, and came with a dropper post. All good.

My build got off to a slow start. There were two change points that had me worried going in: my rear wheel had to be converted from quick release to through axle, and I had to increase my fork's travel from 100mm to 120mm. The wheel change turned out to be dead easy, taking less than five minutes. The fork travel change, on the other hand...  I remember some Rock Shox forks used to have a U turn knob to change your travel. Super easy to adjust. But probably to save cost and weight, X fusion relies on a spacer on the spring shaft to control travel. Taking the fork apart to get to the spacer was straightforward, though I had to order a $9 special tool from ebay. But the spacer was held in by a pressed in pin. I ended up using my friend Marc's drill press as a press to drive out the pin, using a nail I had modified into a press pin. I didn't have the spring shaft well supported while I was pressing the pin out, so I bent it slightly during the operation. Doh. I did successfully get the pin out, and then bent the shaft back as straight as I could. I adjusted the spacer and pressed the pin back in with a bench vise.

I put it all together, and... it seems to work. Nothing blew up or leaked or acted weird in my first loop at Chestnut Ridge, and I'm getting about 110mm of travel:

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Raleigh Kodiak 2 Review

I've been riding more with my fast buddies Chris and Marc this year. Our trail of choice is Chestnut Ridge, which is increasingly deviating from our traditional, hand made twisty singletrack of central Ohio into a roller coaster ride of berms and jumps. My Karate Monkey, which works so well in the tight and twisty stuff, isn't quite so confident when the trail gets fast and steep. I've been changing it how I can: first, I swapped the single speed drivetrain for 1x10, then a longer rigid fork to slack out the front end, then a suspension fork, then a suspension seatpost. This setup works OK, but once I got it into my head that I needed a full suspension bike like Chris and Marc, I found myself scouring the sites online every evening, looking for dually deals.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A Summer Fling with Clem

I had another brief fling with a Rivendell this summer. Occasionally my positive bike budget will intersect with a bike I've been thinking about now becoming available, and that happened this past June. Post-Jones, my bike fund was pretty flush, and the RBW bike list had a fellow looking to sell a Clem Smith Jr, my size, my favorite color, but up in Ann Arbor. Time for a road trip, then.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Henry's S24O

After Sam's solo backpacking trip, Henry lobbied hard for a camping trip of his own. I was sick last weekend, so we had to delay until it was now the last weekend of summer. After raining hard Friday, Saturday was clear and perfect, and we loaded up and hit the road.

Unlike most previous S24Os, Henry was riding his own bike and even carrying most of his own gear. Progress! We took some well earned breaks along the way to camp:

Friday, August 4, 2017

Backpacking with Sam

Sam's middle name is "Walker," and true to his name, he's far and away the best walker of our three kids. I tested him after the Fourth of July parade, when we walked home from our old neighborhood. About four miles. He did fine, so I started scheming for something bigger. Last weekend, we did it.

Sunday after lunch, we pointed the car towards Dayton. Our destination was the Twin Valley trail, a backpacking route that connects two metro parks in the Dayton area. We started on the north end, in Germantown Metro Park:

Our route had us walking about five miles on Sunday, camping at Cedar Ridge, and six miles back to the car on Monday. The first bit was through an open field:

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Off to the Races

Last weekend was the Indy 200 at Mid Ohio, so three generations made the drive up US42 on Saturday to check out the races. Our first stop was the Honda hospitality tent to mooch some free water and pretzels, then we stopped to check out the display cars:

Alas, neither the Civic Type R nor the NSX is available at my pay grade, so we wandered around until we ran into a Wookie:

Monday, July 10, 2017

Car Camping S24O at John Bryan

Is it still an S24O if you drive?

Over break, the kids and I loaded up the Civic and headed to John Bryan SP for an overnighter. My idea was to take the twins on an introductory mountain bike trip to the very easy trails at JB, and to enjoy camping.

Only one of those ideas mostly worked out.

Turns out it was easier to load four bikes and four people into my Civic, rather than our much larger Pilot:

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Mountain Bike Thief Alert! and Kids and Bikes

Henry has developed a sudden interest in all things bicycle this summer. Not sure where that came from. Anyway, earlier this week, we headed to the beginner loop at Alum. He knocked off two easy laps there (4 miles), so we continued on to the main trail and rode parts of that, maybe 7 miles all in. He did great! He even rode a small ramp, which had me a bit nervous as I trailed behind him. He's really building his confidence, and was able to laugh off a brief off trail excursion. Go Henry!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Last Ride of the Halfwheeler

I bought this Giant Halfwheeler trail-a-bike 5 or 6 years ago for $75 off Craigslist. I had been thinking the kids have just about outgrown it. To give it one last hurrah, I hooked it up a few weekends back when Henry wanted to go riding with me on an early morning library run.

Turns out, a seat post mounted trail-a-bike, a lightish 'cross frame, and a burly 10 year old isn't the best combination in the world:

Saturday, June 3, 2017

New Bike: Raleigh Pardner

While I was visiting China a few weeks back, I made a somewhat impulsive online purchase of a Raleigh Pardner fatbike, using their corporate discount code (in a bit of odd coincidence, the Raleigh is presumably made in China, where I was, but shipped from a Central Ohio warehouse, where I live). I had a hankering to try a steel fatbike, got tired of waiting for a used Pugsley to show up, and so decided to order the Pardner before Raleigh's rumored departure from mountain bikes.

A big, heavy box was waiting for me when I got home Saturday morning:

It went together pretty quickly, although I haven't bothered adjusting the hubs yet, if they need it. Raleigh thoughtfully included a few bags of reflectors and dork discs that will never get installed:

There's a lot of open space in my neighborhood, but not many trails. One of my ideas is I can use this bike for local bushwhacking:

Bikes of China

I had a business trip to China last month, so of course I took some bike pictures. Hordes of Flying Pigeons burdened with ridiculous loads? Not so much. Where we stayed in the city center of Guangzhou, it was mostly commuter bikes like this:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Sam Goes Mountain Biking

I'm hoping to raise at least one biking kid. To that end, Sam and I went "mountain biking" last weekend, to Wellington Park in Dublin. This used to be a pretty easy ride from our old house, but now we had to load the bikes up into our Pilot and drive over. I really need to find/make some more local trails... but for the time being, Wellington offers some wide, easy trails for my beginner mountain biker.

Sam was ready to go:

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Lunch Run, Rockhopper Update

Last Sunday, the boys and I biked to lunch before heading to Kate's lacrosse game. I told Henry if he could ride into town (~6 miles), we could eat Moe's, his favorite fast/casual spot.

Henry was on his trusty Trek, all bagged up:

Friday, May 19, 2017

Black Mountain Cycles Monstercross

Regular blog reader(s) may have noticed that I've mentioned the Black Mountain Cycles Monstercross frame several times in the past.  After selling my Jones (!) a month ago, my bike fund was flush enough that I finally paid down for one. In a way, the BMC is very similar to my Cross Check, a bike that I enjoyed over many years, but with a bit lighter weight tubing and what looks like better fitting geometry.

Here we go:

The color looked more classic red online, but it's really more of a brick red, slightly orangish. I like it:

Friday, April 14, 2017

Creepy Houses and Turtles

One sad fact about our new neighborhood is that there aren't any public playgrounds. Possibly, this will put a crimp in my blogging theme. That doesn't mean we don't get out anymore: one night after work this week, the boys and I set out to see an old creepy house that my friend Marc had showed me.

We stopped along the way so the boys could show me their impressive strength:

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Milk Run with Sam

A grocery run on the bike used to be no big deal for us, just two miles each way to Kroger. With our new place, it's more like seven or eight miles, slightly uphill on the return trip. Saturday, Sam and I tried out my new Burley Travoy trailer for our initial big grocery run. Of course, we had to stop at our old haunts like the Avery park playground:

Monday, April 3, 2017

Fleet Update (Again)

A recent post on the Rivendell Bike list asked what is the ideal number of bikes. I should have three:

1) a mountain bike for fast single track riding

2) a road bike for sorta fast solo road riding

3) a city bike for camping, family rides, grocery runs, etc

So how did I end up with seven? I feel another downsizing event coming on. But here's the latest, this time in categories:

Mountain Bikes:

1a) Surly Karate Monkey:

I've tried to sell this bike a few times. The Jones is clearly a more premium bike, the Niner is better with B+ wheels... but I like the way the KM rides over either of them. Quick handling, a responsive frame, and dead simple technology is a winning combination for me. It's my favorite bike.

By the way, the left grip is spare orange bar tape. I ran out of grips during this build. No expense spared for my favorites!

1b) Niner SIR9:

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Henry's Rack

I was working on my fleet in the shop the other night when Henry wandered in and asked about installing some bags on his bike. Do I have the stuff to do that? Well, of course. I'm happy to encourage any small bike interest anyone in my family has, so I shoved aside my latest project and we set to work. With a cheap Performance rack, my only set of panniers, and some homemade extensions, we were ready to roll:

These extra struts aren't going to win any awards for stiffness, but then again, Henry won't exactly be carrying all of our heavy camping gear back there, either.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

New Bike Fix

I ordered up a cheapish frame off ebay recently--an early 90s Raleigh Technium Peak mountain bike frame. I'm hoping to combine the lively ride of my Raleigh Technium road bike with good brakes and the ability to run fat tires. Besides, who else is buying old Techniums?

Alas, when I went to put the frame together, I ran into an issue: the bottom bracket threads weren't aligned between the left and right sides of the frame. You can see the bottom bracket is way off center here:

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Inappropriate Technology

With six bikes in the garage (at the time), but no fixed gear, something clearly had to change. My KM could easily be a fixed gear (track ends), as could the Technium or Polyvalent (forward facing horizontals), or even the Jones or Niner (EBB), but I like to do things the hard way: I converted my vertical dropout Rockhopper instead:

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Bike Shop Update

I finally got tired of rummaging around in a cardboard box whenever I needed to find just the right stem:

25.4mm on the left, 31.8mm in the middle, 26.0mm on the right. Simple and easy. I change around stems and bars a lot, so I appreciate this.

I also sold my old Trek 510 last night, so I have a bit more room in my shop now.

Monday, February 20, 2017

B Pluses and Minuses

With this weekend's amazing weather, Alum P2 was actually dry enough to ride. It was in great shape, actually, when I took my B+ shod Karate Monkey out this afternoon:

Mostly good times with the B+ Monkey, but a big issue with my 650b Raleigh.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bike and Playgrounds

We had a record warm Saturday, so after a morning of working on the basement, Sam and I headed into town for a lunch at Moe's. Fully fueled, we had energy to hit some playgrounds on the way home, just like the old days. Avery Park was first up:

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

B+ Niner

My thing this winter is small wheels, apparently. I've been enjoying my 26" wheeled Rockhopper, just built a 650b VO Polyvalent, and now I'm experimenting with B+ wheels on a Niner frame (B-Niner?).

Since I've built this, I've only managed one trip to Alum. Rain and warm temps have kept the trails unrideable in these parts, for the most part, but I did sneak in a ride last weekend:

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Velo Orange Polyvalent Intro

I certainly don't need another bike, but when this VO Polyvalent frameset drifted across one of my bikes lists for a reasonable price, I didn't hesitate to pick it up. My hope is this will be the bike for my now-longer solo rides into Dublin when I want to run some errands. At least, that's my excuse to myself.

My first build was a quick hodgepodge:

After converting my Raleigh back to 27" wheels, my free pair of 650b wheels allowed this build. My only major problem was that I was out of derailers, so I had to make do:

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Playin' the Oldies

We had a balmy weeked here--temps in the 60s aren't the norm for January in Ohio. Nothing to do for it but grab a bike and ride.

Saturday morning, I was out before the sun on a grocery run. I was riding my $50 CL Rockhopper, now converted to flat bars and featuring a kickstand:

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2016 in Review

It's that time of years when bloggers get together, clean the last of the Christmas food out of the fridge, and make some sort of end of year list. This year, I'm going to look at what bikes and frames I've bought and sold over the year:

In January, I sold my Mukluk fatbike. I still think about a fatbike every now and then, but the wide Q factor and overall slowness of the fat tires didn't work too well for me.

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...