Thursday, August 18, 2011

Different Builds

I get a lot of questions from people about how they should set up their new bike, and if they should actually get a new one entirely. Most frames have a lot of possibilities, so I pulled a bunch of photos of different builds I've seen attempted, all from the same frame model. I used the Surly Cross Check not because I think it's the ideal frame, but there are a lot of easy to find photos of it and it's pretty easy to recognize. Similar things can be done with a basic old chromoly sports touring frame of a decent quality. Tire/fender clearance is key, drop out type is important, and fender/rack eyelets help a bunch. There are other considerations regarding geometry worth looking into before you throw all your eggs in one basket, but hopefully this will help you percolate a bit.

Commuterish drop bar dealie.

More upright position with porteur rack. (oops, not actually X check...)

Touring bike.


 Cyclocross racer [what the frame is originally design for but not limited to.]

Cargo Kid Hauler.

Token Xtracycle...

Single Speed w/ basket.

Dave' carry-every-damn-thing-possible bike. Lotsa not stock-bike shit going on here.

Randonneur-looking build.

Too cute not to post.

Despite all these interesting variations, this is what 8O% of the Cross Checks look like when they come out of a bike shop. There are a lot of questions to be asked about accessibility, price, purpose, preference, but don't feel too defeated by a frame just because it isn't perfect the way you got it.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

SKS Long Board Fenders

I got these Rivendelly fenders being both tight on money and suddenly finding myself without a fendered bike during the Spring time in Olympia. Got a deal on them so gave it a shot. I've used them for 4 months or so, and I'd thought I'd give my reportback on them.

They're basically like any plastic fender, except longer with built in mud flaps. They have a lot of ups and downs. First, the coverage is probably better than any fender I've had--better even than VO's fluted 45mm fenders [I think the longest one they sell.] Perhaps if I had added flaps to those, I could out-do these SKS's. Like most plastic fenders I've installed, they're pretty easy to put on. They're also pretty light weight, for what its worth. Oh, and they make my 65Ob'ed 65cm roadie look not crazy weird.
Front fender ground clearance.

But that's about all the good I could say about them. First off, there is the basic flaw of plastic fenders in that the edges of the fender aren't curled around allowing water to spray out laterally from the bike, which invariably goes back a little and gets you slightly damper. Metal fenders of a decent quality always go this going for them. The extra long design also doesn't translate well for plastic, as the amount of flex these experience is notable. Luckily I have a fair amount of clearance for my 32mm tires, but if I hadn't much room to spare, I could see these rattling against the wheel. Actually now that I think about it, the dirt road to my house causes the fender to slap against the tire side wall...

Looking at the photo above, the fender comes extremely close to the ground. What ends up happening is that the flap acts like a funnel for debris to get caught into. This happens a lot. Like crazy amounts. Maybe if I road strictly on clean roads I could avoid this, but fuuuuck that. Rivendell now sells this remedy for their ill-fated design, if you can ignore the other short comings.

The fenders also are a pain when trying to make the bike smaller for travel, but that's pretty much any fender of this coverage.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

If You Ride A Bike, Then You're Probably A...

I didn't even realize this when I posted it, but if you look closely at this photo, you'll notice that both Dave and Josh's attention strangely aren't directed at the camera. Instead they're gandering at the foul mouth philstine in the junker behind them as he screams 'FAGGOT!' from the passenger window. I swear that the number one insult that gets hurled at me while riding is 'faggot'. If they find the terminology problematic but not the priniciple, then 'You are gay' sometimes is sufficent, and if they're positively old world, then you'll get the rare 'you goddamn queer!' It use to get to me, but at some point I just had to let go. So just take these professors of gender studies' advice from now on and come to terms with the fact that if you ride a bike, you're probably gay. Studies show, y'know.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Estacada to Bagby Hot Springs S24O

Finally got around to doing that ride that I've been talking about for ever, good heavens. Vancouver but Oly OG Dave invite me and Josh on a little taste of the Oregon inland, and how could I refuse? We started in Estacada, OR parking our truck at some ranger station on the edge of town and taking the roads into the wilderness. Their was a slight rising grade all the way to the finish line at Bagby, make the way there much harder than the way back.

As soon as we left Estacada, we hit our first hill. Unfortunately, it was a 2 mile long fucker with a 7% grade. I didn't have any problems on my lightly packed Schwinny dunno-what-the-hell-I-am-for bike, but Dave's full-loaded Cross Check with an 8 speed nexus hub and Avid BB-7 [mechanical disc brake] struggled trying to deal with both front and rear Surly racks with plenty o' luggage. Though probably way more than necessary for a S24O [Sub 24 hour Overnighter], one purpose of the trip was to test out this bike's capabilities full-loaded, all day riding, on pavement and trails.

Having finally reached the summit, we had a nice decent of a similar grade as the hill we just ascended. As some point, Dave's rear Vittoria 4Omm Randonneur tire blew off the rear Salsa Delgado rim... Excessive weight + way too high tire pressure + heat from long descent are some theories. The nexus is pain in the fuck bucket to remove having both the gear cable and the drum brake needing to be detached. Dave was a trooper though and replaced the tube--super lucky it didn't happen during our hill bombing.

We eventually keep rollin' till we hit the Big Eddy. It served as a good break spot being next to the water while the sun is on full blast.

The Big Eddy.
Team Ramrod.
Woohoo waterproof camera!
Dave was a fool and jumped off a perfectly good rock. As you can see, the fate was deserving.
Josh made a similar mistake. How tragic.
Heading back to the road.

Big Eddy was a big moral booster after one offensively long hill and an ill-opportune blow out. I felt pretty prepared for the rest of the 4O or so miles for that day, and got back into the pedal stroke.

Lotsa waterfalls.
I wuuuv bridges. There are a lot out here.
I would often rush ahead of Josh and Dave, and while I waited for them to catch up I'd jump on a side trail to get more dirt action or take a loser bike-nerd shot like this one. I have way more on my camera that I don't ever remember taking or where they particular are...
Josh, with the haggard appearance of an ill-washed wookie. Someone soap this baffoon, quick.
The further in we got, the more trails appeared. Mega nar.
Action shot. Me and Dave decided that our respective obsessive narcissism would be beneficial to one another, hence this mutual photo taking op shows.
 Much of the evening was well-spent as such.
 We ran parallel to a river for the duration of the ride. It was inglorious.
 This bridge was barely wide enough for bikeage.

Upon arriving at Bagby Hot Springs, us ye olde tenacious fucks set camp and ate some god damn food like a pack of starved mongrels. Josh, recognizing his dire need for a good scrubbin', led us towards the bath house... which really was more of a house of utter debauchery--as the heat from the water apparently seeped into many of tenants brains--resulting in a few tubs festooned with a squabble of horny inebriated monkey-like people. Yes, Bagby was a place covered in a haze unprotected sex, questionable narcotics, and bad consent practice [as the former two combined often amount to.] It was as if some horrid disease had over-come these poor souls, resulting in their foul behavior and even fouler smell. I was offended, greatly. Their howls and grunts still haunt this brave adventures mind, like a bad rash that refuses to go away. I went to sleep clinching my sleeping bag, as if these crazed barbarians would drag me away to their caves and eat my flesh. Or something to the effect--I was there for like 5 minutes, tops. I just remember it was kinda wet and dark, Josh and Dave gave me a reportback the next morning with all the raunchy details.

Packing up in the morning, trying to forget the night's mishaps.
 The sign for the bath house, something better left forgotten...
 A bullet hole laden sign; surely some person mistook their shot gun for binoculars, of course.
And 8O miles later, the summit again.
 Victory! I smelled of petunias and cinnamon rolls, though I can't say as much for my Sasquatch-esque companions. I've never seen a pair so badly in need of a good shaving, heavens. Me of course, was quite the opposite, oh yes. [trust me.]