Thursday, June 12, 2014

My Beast of Burden

I’ve had a bunch of questions about my main commuter bike lately thanks to photos that I’ve had on Flickr and Twitter.  It is a rather odd bike, so I’ll lay it out here.  This is the bike I use most often for doing advocacy work for Washington Area Bicyclist Association.  I pull their advocacy trailer and carry all the stuff I need for doing outreach events.  It is not unusual for me to have 4 panniers on this bike or the trailer out back.  I don’t often do both at the same time.  It is, after all, a fixie.

Frame/Fork: Steelwool is the builder.  Tweed is the model.  They’re Canadian.  I don’t think it is made anymore.  It is lugged Tange Prestige with an Eccentric Bottom Bracket so that it can be run fixie or single speed.  There are brake mounts for discs and cantilever brakes.  It is generally a road geometry.  There is room for 35mm tires with full fenders and enough rack mounts to make it a good beast of burden.  Even with fenders I don’t have toe overlap.

Cockpit: All selected for durability — Headset = King NoThreadSet, Stem = Thomson X-4 mountain bike stem, Bars = Zipp Service Course.  The bars are my favorites for comfort.  I actually use Shimano Ultegra shift/brake levers.  The shifters are not hooked up to anything.  I broke my wrist last year and shifting the front derailleur works like physical therapy for me.  I can just ride around shifting all day.  My wrist is MUCH stronger as a result.  I use an Avid BB7 Road front disc brake.  It is super noisy when wet or humid.  The braking power is great though.  

Wheels: They’re simple and durable.  Paul Component Engineering hubs with Velocity Deep V rims.  32 spokes laced 3 cross in back, 2 cross and radial up front.   The wheels  are many, many years old and have been on at least 4 different bikes.  Continental Gatorskin tires… 700x32.  They’ve got almost 10,000 miles on them, so it is time for them to be replaced.

Drivetrain: Ultegra crank, Sugiono chainrings, Surly double fixie cog.  SRAM 8-speed chain.  There are actually 2 different gear ratios that I can use.  The chainrings are 46/44 the cogs are 17/19.  Since there is 2 teeth difference between the respective rings and cogs, they use the same chain length.  I just drop the rear wheel, move the chain over, then reinstall the wheel.  I’ve never actually used the 44/19 combination before.  Pedals are Time ATAC mountain bike pedals.

Seating: Thomson Seatpost (the most durable and light that I know of.  Specialized Toupe saddle.  I know it is a race saddle, but it is arguably the most comfortable I’ve used.  I spent 3-5 hours a day on this bike and it needs to be comfy.

Other stuff:  Racktime Racks: They’re light, durable and have decent carrying capacity.  Racktime makes many different bags and baskets that click into the top of each rack.  I use the large basket in back and a small laptop bag up front.  I can use the basket in back and still hook up panniers.  I usually ride with front panniers only because on a fixie, it makes it easier to get out of the saddle to climb if I don’t have weight on the back of the bike.  

VeloOrange fenders: They are reasonably priced and give great coverage.  They don’t rattle.  They just keep me dry.

Exposure lights: They’re durable and bright.  They’ve been with me for years, get used daily and have never failed me. 

What’s next: I’m thinking of setting up a dynamo lighting system on this bike.  It would be nice to never have to charge the batteries on the light and also have a source of USB power to charge my phone or GPS while on the bike.  I probably need to rebuild the wheels.  They’re old and would benefit from new spokes and nipples.  Very few of my bikes are ever finished.  This one is one of the most complete.  There’s not much left for me to do with it. 


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I raced the rain

I raced the rain home tonight.

As the clouds got darker, I decided to take the long way home. Still no rain.

I stopped early for stop lights and waited a little extra at stop signs. Still no rain.

I went out of my way to get more cat food, which I don't immediately need. It got darker, but still no rain.

My hopes peaked as the wind picked up and temps dropped. Still no rain.

Got home.... still not a drop even though the clouds were black and it was as dark as night. I was grumpy.

Luckily my wife wasn't home and I could go to the store for wine. I FINALLY got dumped on royally on my ride home from the store. Soaking wet and with a HUGE smile on my face, I pulled the bike into the barn.

I WON!!!