Sharon’s First Bike Tour…

22 05 2013
Sharon on the move...

Sharon on the move…

After a lot of tries to get out on a bike tour the stars aligned so Sharon and I hit the road this past weekend for some bike camping. We fitted Porcelain Rocket bikepacking bags to her Surly Pugsley and head up the Galloping Goose MUP towards the Sooke Potholes Campground. This a 50km dirt ride which is challenging enough on a loaded fatbike to be interesting without being so hard it might deter a novice bike tourist from going on a second tour. The scenery is nice and it’s 99% car free.

Sharon carried her own sleeping bag, pad, food, water and clothing. I carried all the group gear [tent, stove, cups, tools, spares, F/a kit etc..]. I ended up using rear panniers on my Pugsley to carry the extra group gear. It worked just fine, but the whole time I wished I had Porcelain Rocket softbags on my bike. Riding rough terrain with panniers is not a lot of fun.

We stopped on the ride out for a bite to eat at the 17 Mile House Pub which is perfectly situated about an hour from the campground. I wanted to reinforce all the good things about bike touring so stopping to eat, drink and relax seemed important!

I was a bit worried that the campground would be full of party animals as it was a holiday weekend in Canada. Happily we found a whole section of the campground unoccupied and the rest of the campers were chill. Some hot tea, a campfire and a chill session rounded out the evening.

My 2 person bike touring tent is cozy, but once Sharon got the hang out climbing in a out she had a good nights sleep.

The next morning we fired up the stove for tea and oatmeal before checking out the potholes down by the Sooke River.

The ride back was pleasant if repetitive. – sadly there isn’t a good loop route from the potholes back to Victoria that doesn’t involve significantly longer distances and a lot of climbing. We stopped for some Thai curry on the way back – again to emphasize that every good bike tour is an excuse to eat well!

By the end of the ride Sharon had enough energy to beat me to the top of a few climbs while smiling. That was a great sign that we had picked an appropriate route for her first tour. I’ll post something about using a Pugsley as a touring bike separately, but let me say that if you own a Pugs and you want to tour don’t think you need to buy another bike or even another set of wheels.

All in all the tour was a success. I’m sure Sharon will want to head out again once she’s recovered from knee surgery over the summer. The trick will be to pick routes that offer the most smiles for the least gnarliness.

Trip photos are here.

Click for detailed map...

Click for detailed map…

Enjoying the sunshine...

Enjoying the sunshine…

Corn dogs?

Corn dogs?

My Pugsley...

My Pugsley…

Where is the pub?

Where is the pub?

Lazy pulling up the rear...

Lazy pulling up the rear…

Beer!

Beer!

Great reason to bike tour - no traffic jams...

Great reason to bike tour – no traffic jams…

Strait of Juan de Fuca...

Strait of Juan de Fuca…

Rest stop...

Rest stop…

Barnes Station Shelter...

Barnes Station Shelter…

We made it!

We made it!

Our camp....

Our camp….

Getting a fire going...

Getting a fire going…

Where are you sleeping?

Where are you sleeping?

Let's ride!

Let’s ride!

Where did the trail go?

Where did the trail go?

The mighty Sooke River...

The mighty Sooke River…

I think I can ride this!

I think I can ride this!

Bridge to somewhere...

Bridge to somewhere…

Back at the water...

Back at the water…

Let's get 'er done!

Let’s get ‘er done!

Still smiling...

Still smiling…

Watch out for falling rocks!

Watch out for falling rocks!

Almost home...

Almost home…





Shimano Alfine 11 IGH Oil Change…

15 05 2013

It’s been over a year since I started running an Alfine 11 IGH. First off in my On One Scandal 29er MTB and now in my Surly Krampus. Shimano wants you to do an oil change after the first 1000kms and every year or 5000kms after that. I was putting off my first oil change since I hadn’t acquired the supplies I needed and I know oil change intervals are conservative.

Alfine 11 cleaned and oiled...

Alfine 11 cleaned and oiled…

On my last tour I made a poor decision to ride across a washed out trail which submerged my Alfine 11 at least partially. IGH seals are not designed to keep water out when the hub goes under so I assumed I had at least a little water in the hub. While I might push the limits of bike maintenance sometimes I also know when I am fooling with an expensive repair. Leaving water inside an IGH for any length of time can lead to a hub failure that could necessitate a total factory rebuild.

So I got my lazy ass in gear and figured out an oil change plan. Since I own a couple Rohloffs I have used several of that brand’s oil change kits. I kept all the old parts for re-use and they conveniently fit my Alfine 11. Stocking two separate sets of expensive IGH maintenance supplies seemed like too much of a PITA. So I decided to stick with Rohloff products.

The Fairfield Bicycle Shop kindly sold me 300ml of bulk Rohloff cleaning solution and Rohloff hub oil. You need 25ml of each fluid for an oil change so I’m good for 12 IGH services. That’s a lot of years of IGH maintenance.

Rohloff Bulk oil and syringe...

Rohloff Bulk oil and syringe…

Just for the IGH Geeks here is why Rohloff says you should use their oil:

“The SPEEDHUB requires a pressure resistant oil with the correct viscosity so as to ensure this works over a vast temperature range (making the SPEEDHUB suitable in all climates) whilst not increasing friction/decreasing transmission efficiency or escaping under the special seals. For this reason we insist that only original Rohloff oils be used.

It is incredibly important that the oil does not react with the hard-nylon components within the gear-unit. Our early tests proved that various different oils reacted with hard-nylon components within the gear-unit. These components would sometimes swell and increase friction to the point where the SPEEDHUB failed to operate correctly. The sheer number of different percentages and types of additives used in oils is so vast, that we were forced to produce our own oil so that we can safely offer and uphold a warranty on our products.

The use of non-original oils is easy to detect after opening a SPEEDHUB transmission and in every service case where this is apparent, we are unable to offer warranty repairs.”

Now it would be legitimate to ask why a Rohloff product would be good for a Shimano IGH? I don’t know that it is for sure, but I’m willing to take the chance that an oil safe for a Rohloff is safe for a Shimano hub. If something bad happens I’ll let you know! ;)

BTW – the Rohloff syringe and injection tube fitting work on the Alfine 11 perfectly.

Here is my Alfine 11 oil change process:

  1. clean outside of hub shell
  2. open hub via oil plug
  3. inject 25 ml of Rohloff cleaning solution
  4. pedal hub through all gear combos for 5 mins
  5. let drain for 30 mins
  6. suck out any remaining cleaning fluid and old oil with syringe
  7. inject 25 ml of Rohloff hub oil
  8. seal up Alfine and ride
  9. dispose of dirty oil/cleaning fluid responsibly

The oil change went without a hitch and took about 45 mins including the 30 mins of draining time for the old oil.

Dirty oil...

Dirty oil…

Tip – there is a tiny o-ring on the Alfine 11 oil plug. Don’t lose it! ;)

Here is what you need for an Alfine 11 oil change:

  • Rohloff 25 ml cleaning solution & 25 ml Rohloff oil
  • or 50 ml Shimano hub oil
  • syringe with injection tube and hub fitting
  • 3 mm allen key
  • paper towels
  • ziplock bag to collect dirty oil
  • electrical tape to attach ziplock to tube while it drains
  • 2 cold beers




Gravel Pimp: Port Alberni to Cumberland Loop Part 2…

13 05 2013
Middle of nowhere...

Middle of nowhere…

Day 3 – Wrong Turn

I made a serious mistake on the last day. I didn’t question the Google Maps bike route enough. I was so close to PA I could taste the ice cream and I wasn’t thinking straight. I ended up paying the price.

How bad was it?

  • 2500′ and 3.5hrs of pushing my bike up Mount Horne
  • 30 degree C heat
  • limited water
  • not realizing it was a dead end until right at the top where I was expecting an awesome downhill run to PA
  • road down other side didn’t exist :(
  • 30mins of controlled falling down the mountain on my bike the same way I pushed up

I was totally crushed when I figured out the mistake in my route. I sat down and would have cried if I didn’t feel the need to conserve water! In my defence when I looked at the Google Maps satellite images it put a white line and road name for the imaginary roads. The white line looked just like a break in the trees which is what a logging road looks like. The only way you can tell the real roads from the fake roads is to zoom in uber close at which point the fake roads disappear and are replaced by trees. The real roads of course stay on the screen no matter how much you zoom in. Lesson learned.

The only upside was the cell tower at the top of the mountain meant I had 4bars on my phone so I could download satellite images and scope out a new route – very carefully!

After figuring out where to go next I had to head down the way I came. It was so steep I could barely ride safely and had to stop a few times to let my brakes cool.

Steep road...

Steep road…

and up...

and up…

thank God some water...

thank God some water…

my Sopranos look...

my Sopranos look…

Forgetting the climb for a second...

Forgetting the climb for a second…

at least the views are sweet...

at least the views are sweet…

and up we go...

and up we go…

My only reward...

My only reward an awesome cell signal… ;)

Back where I started...

Back where I started…

Day 3 – Heading to PA Finally!

4hrs of hard work and I was back where I started from. Bummer. :(

The safest option would have been to head back to the highway and ride to PA on pavement. Did I take it?

Hell no! ;)

I decided to stay dirty and recon a route around the bottom of Horne Lake on logging roads. This had some risks and since it was now the afternoon one more setback would mean another night of camping as I could run out of daylight. After tasting a bit of main road touring I felt the opportunity to ride alone on logging roads was the better way to spend my time.

Although I felt some trepidation passing another “Keep Out!” gate the road past the gate was pretty nice. Enough shade to help beat the heat and after hours of pushing uphill it was nice just to be riding my bike again. The road deteriorated rapidly and I feared it might dead end, but it kept going and I was rewarded with a connection to a well maintained logging road at the south end of Horne Lake.

I got a little cocky at this point and spotted a shortcut on the map if I was willing to hike-a-bike across a clear cut. It would save me a long logging road detour. So I went for it. As I rode up to the clearcut I realized it was really rough and uphill the whole way. Yikes! I just kept going. Looking back at the effort required to manhandle the Krampus up the clearcut I’m not sure it was easier than riding the long way around, but it was a unique challenge. After many hours of touring on this trip doing something new was refreshing even though it was really hard.

At the far end of the clearcut I thought all my challenges were over, but Google Maps screwed me one more time with a fake road. I thought I had a straight shot to PA. But when I showed up at the intersection it didn’t exist. A zoom way in on the satellite image revealed it was another faker. **sigh**

This time however there was a reasonable alternate route I could take so instead of an 8km ride to PA. I had to ride 14-16kms. Not the end of the world. I had been through enough that even though I was pretty burnt out I knew I would get to PA that night before sunset and be drinking a cold beer.

So I cranked down the last part of the logging road I was on and hit the Alberni Highway. I enjoyed a really long downhill that brought me to the PA city limits with barely any pedalling. I stopped for a sub, bag of chips and a cold Sprite. I was thrilled to be almost done the ride. Not knowing PA very well I didn’t realize I had some super steep hills to climb back to my friends’ house, but nothing could stop me now!

I rolled into their place at 8pm. I guess I didn’t make it for lunch! A shower, 3 beers and a hottub later I felt like a champion. ;)

Another gate...

Another gate…

Looking good...

Looking good…

What happened to the last guy that tried this route... ;)

What happened to the last guy that tried this route… ;)

Getting rustic...

Getting rustic…

and rough...

and rough…

and I'm golden...

and I’m golden…

Stunning views...

Stunning views…

more gates to ignore...

more gates to ignore…

One last challenge...

One last challenge…

A harsh push through an uphill clear cut...

A harsh push through an uphill clear cut…

IMG_5752

Halfway up…

Last section of gravel...

Last section of gravel…

The Alberni Highway...

The Alberni Highway…

Viktory!

Viktory!

The Mighty Krampus!

All Hail The Mighty Krampus!

The loop map - click for more details...

The loop map – click for more details…

Wrap Up

All in all it was a great trip despite the heat and the navigation challenges. I learned a lot about this part of Vancouver Island and about route planning with the tools at my disposal. The Krampus with Porcelain Rocket bags is a capable bikepacking rig.

I cleaned up the GPS tracks on Ride With GPS to remove any detours, backtracks or wrong turns so the routes are more useful to people that download them. Riding 200kms in 3 days doesn’t seem like much, but it was quite hard for me with a lot of pushing.

The great news is I know have ~400kms of dirt touring route mapped out from Cumberland to Victoria BC and I’ve covered a bit less than half of Vancouver Island so there is lots more to come! :)

Ride GPS data...

Ride GPS data…





Gravel Pimp: Port Alberni to Cumberland Loop Part 1…

13 05 2013
Bridge on the Log Train Trail...

Bridge on the Log Train Trail…

With a dirt bikepacking route sorted out from Lake Cowichan to Victoria I was eager to push northwards. I know the logging roads from Lake Cowichan to Port Alberni as I have driven them on my kiteboarding adventures. So I skipped that section and looked at how to ride from PA to Cumberland on dirt.

Route map - click for more detail...

Route map – click for more detail…

I have friends in Port Alberni so I decided to drive 2hrs north to their place and start the ride from there. I figured I’d just do it as an out and back or come up with some loop options once I had a feel for the terrain.

You can have a look a the trip photos here. I should warn you as a solo trip there are lots of scenery shots and not much in the way of biking action – sorry!

Me and the Krampus at the start...

Me and the Krampus at the start…

Day 1 – Port Alberni – end of the Log Train Trail

I got to PA around 1pm on the first day of the trip. Talking about my route with my friend Rob he suggested I should ride the Log Train Trail out of PA rather than the route I had planned. It sounded like a nice ride, but I would have to abandon my well researched GPS route and navigate on the fly. It sounded like a good idea given that I had some spare time in my schedule in case things took longer than expected. Before I could even leave Rob’s place my front tires went flat while we were chatting. Turns out a pinch flat I patched on the last Krampus tour had failed. Possibly as a result of running normal 29er tubes in the big 3″ Knard tire. I ripped off the old patch and applied a new one. which held the rest of the trip.

Rob took the photo of me and my bike at the start of the Log Train Trail above. The LTT was a fun dirt rail bed ride with quite a few rough spots and twists/turns. I got lost several times and spent a lot of energy backtracking and asking locals for directions. I had to ford a fast flowing creek where the trail had washed out and rode the Krampus through a mud puddle that ended up being deeper than the hubs/BB. :( I guess it’s time for an oil change in the Alfine 11!

The shoes and socks I was wearing were not designed to dry fast so I had wet feet all day which did not make me happy! I need to figure out some quick dry bikepacking footwear or carry a second set of lightweight footwear [ie. Vibram FIve Fingers for camp use and river crossings]. Since the day was extremely hot ~30 deg C at least getting wet was pleasant for its cooling effect. The LTT also had a lot of tree cover and I appreciated the shade very much.

I spent a lot of time covering the LTT. Much more than if I would have followed my planned route, but the riding was amazing and I was happy to have heard about the LTT from Rob. A quiet rough dirt track with a modest grade and some shade is bikepacking paradise!

Log Train Trail Map - click for larger...

Log Train Trail Map – click for larger…

flat Knard!

flat Knard!

Lovely countryside...

Lovely countryside…

Nice shade...

Nice shade…

Good landmark for navigation...

Good landmark for navigation…

Time for wet feet...

Time for wet feet…

Where did the trail go?

Where did the trail go?

Quiet riding...

Quiet riding…

Day 1 – From LTT to Camp near Pear Lake

Leaving the LTT behind I hit logging roads heading north towards Comox Lake. This was part of my planned GPS route so navigation was easy and the riding was fun despite the heat and general uphill trend to the terrain. I stopped at every creek to throw water over my head and refill my bottles as needed. The logging roads did not provide any shade due to the lack of big trees in most places. That meant a lot of baking for me. Although my late start also meant that by the time I hit this section it was the late afternoon and the temperature was heading slowly in the cooler direction.

I’m not a fast rider and I stop frequently to take photos, eat and generally check stuff out. That works well in the heat because I am not pushing myself too hard and I can sustain a constant moderate exertion all day.

As I was riding along I spotted a tiny clearing next to a beautiful little lake. I rode in to investigate and found a lovely campsite with a stool made from a chunk of log and some firewood ready to light next to a fire ring. I had another 90mins of daylight and wanted to push on, but I also wasn’t confident I’d find an equally nice campsite further on and I was tempted by the almost ready to go fire so I could dry my wet shoes/socks. OTOH – if I kept going I’d be a lot closer to breakfast in Cumberland the following day!

After 15mins of deliberating I sat down and lit a fire. An hour later I had dry feet, dry socks and dry shoes! Yeah! :) I had sandwiches and perishable snacks with me so rather than let them go bad I just ate everything I had that wouldn’t last in the heat. That let me skip my usual dehydrated camp meal. The campsite was really peaceful and I enjoyed a good long chill out session by the fire until it got dark.

Last tour I camped up high with my lightweight summer sleeping bag and suffered a lot. This trip I brought the same bag, but temperatures were high and my camp was much lower. What I didn’t realize was that there were about 1000 frogs in the lake I was camped next to and it was date night!!!!! I’ve never heard frogs that loud before – amazing. Happily I am a solid sleeper so I only woke up a few times, but every time I did it was a shock to hear them. Funny thing was when I woke up the last time and the sun was coming up the lake was silent again and I never did see a single frog!

I should mention the bear situation since Vancouver Island is home to a healthy population of black bears. I ran into a couple bears that were on the road during the first day of riding. I don’t carry any bear spray or bear bangers on the island. Black bears aren’t aggressive and they are well fed here. So I just holler at them with a Mr. T impression such as “I pity the fool bear that tries to mess with the Mighty Krampus!” It works every time and the bear scampers away into the woods never to be seen again. I keep my food away from my tent at night, but close enough I can hear an animal trying to steal it so I can get up and shoo them away. I’m actually more concerned with rodents as they’ll quietly chew through any bag to get at a snack and they are harder to notice than a 250lbs bear!

We also have cougars on the island. I don’t carry any anti-cougar safety gear either. A cougar you see isn’t interested in you and will run away every time. The first indication that a cougar wants to eat you is when its jaws are closing around your neck. You aren’t going to get bear spray out and do anything useful in that case. Since a cougar attack is rarer than a lightning strike I don’t worry about it.

Logging road...

Logging road…

Positive message...

Positive message…

Cool water!

Cool water!

Dusty and no shade...

Dusty and no shade…

Cell service 50kms from nearest people...

Cell service 50kms from the nearest town…

Nice campsite...

Nice campsite…

Dry feet... :)

Dry feet… :)

Chilling...

Chilling…

Home sweet home...

Home sweet home…

Breakfast...

Breakfast…

Day 2 – Camp to Cumberland

The next morning was nice and cool so I wanted to make tracks for Cumberland before it got too hot. The road went downhill a long way to the lake which actually got too chilly so I stopped to drink some hot green tea I made at breakfast and was carrying in my framebag. That really hit the spot and I was soon greeted with lots of climbing as the road around the lake was very lumpy!

I should have looked at the elevation profile more carefully, but I was expecting a leisurely cruise around the lake to Cumberland. Instead I got lots of steep ups and downs. The kind you couldn’t use your momentum from the previous downhill to get up. So there was lots of sweating and some pushing involved. Since my pace was slow it got plenty hot well before I reached Cumberland. There wasn’t much I could do other than to keep going and think about the cold drinks I could buy when I reached town.

On the plus side the scenery was really nice and I had the road to myself like I usually do when riding BC logging roads.

I did finally reach Cumberland and without thinking I pulled into the first gas station for an ice cold Sprite and a bag of salty chips! I sat outside and devoured them as fast as I could before heading into the center of town.

Early morning downhill...

Early morning downhill…

Comox Lake...

Comox Lake…

A message...

A message…

Getting warm...

Getting warm…

Nearly done!

Nearly done!

Mar's on Main = breakfast! :)

Mar’s on Main = breakfast! :)

Day 2 – Cumberland

Getting to Cumberland was great not just for the food and beverages, but it meant I now had ~400kms of dirt bikepacking route mapped out all the way down to Victoria. Almost half the island. Nice! :)

First thing I did was find the LBS which is Dodge City Cycles. I knew it was my kind of shop when I saw a Krampus in the window and a well used Moonlander leaning against the counter. Not to mention loads of sweet mountain bikes. Dan and Chris were very kind to me letting me leave my bike in the shop while I walked down to Mar’s on Main for a delicious breakfast.

After eating I bought a trail map from DCC and they let me drop my camping gear in a corner of the shop so I could do some unencumbered mountain biking. Thanks guys! I spent a couple hours exploring the trails closest to town and barely even scratched the surface of the riding potential in Cumberland. Their trail network blows my mind and they keep building more and more each week.

Eventually the heat and the knowledge I had more miles to cover today convinced me to head back to the shop. I chatted with the DCC guys a bunch and then I went over to the Waiverly Pub for some cold beer and shade while I figured out the route back to PA.

I could have gone back the way I had come, but I was really burnt out from the heat and the idea of repeating the hilly, hot and dusty road along Comox Lake did not appeal to me. Looking at Google Maps I decided heading to the coast for a spin down the old island highway made sense. It was flat-ish and would be 10 degrees cooler by the water. I waited until late afternoon to let the temperature subside a bit before heading out. In the meantime I caught up on stuff via my smartphone and watched some hockey recaps on TV.

Dodge City Cycles...

Dodge City Cycles…

My Krampus taking a break at DCC...

My Krampus taking a break at DCC…

Cumberland tech...

Cumberland tech…

A fresh Krampus at DCC...

A fresh Krampus at DCC…

Fat skinny...

Fat skinny…

Cumberland Trail Map...

Cumberland Trail Map…

Heading out of town over the new highway...

Heading out of town over the new highway…

Day 2 – Cumberland to Roswell Creek Provincial Park

Riding to the coast I passed over the new Island Highway which is a 4 lane highspeed beast that sees most of the traffic up and down the island. That leaves the old 2 lane Island Highway on the coast much quiter for a bike tourist to enjoy! As expected the coast was much cooler than inland plus the fact it was late afternoon meant long shadows to ride in away from the burning sun. I was happy! :)

This section of the ride reminded me of my road touring days – for the good and the bad. The riding was easy with the Knards rolling well on pavement and there were lots of services along the way to fill any desire for food or drink. With people around to interact with the ride was a lot more social. OTOH – even this relatively quiet road had 1000 times more traffic than the deserted logging roads I used to get to Cumberland. The shoulder was wide enough that my safety wasn’t in question – just the difference between peaceful solitude and the hustle/bustle of civilization.

Given how sun blasted I felt I was happy to trade some remoteness for cool air, shade and the odd Sprite! ;)

I turned off the road near Roswell Creek Provincial Park [which doesn't allow camping] and found a secluded campsite nearby on some undeveloped land. It was a long hard hot day on the bike and I had eaten a sub an hour back. So I just set up camp. Drank a lot of water to fight off dehydration and went right to bed. There was no frog symphony that night to keep me up!

The old Island Higway...

The old Island Higway…

Enjoying a rest stop break...

Enjoying a rest stop…

Seals...

Seals…

Shellfish shells...

Shellfish shells…

Time to camp...

Time to camp…

Day 3 – Camp to Wrong Turn

Waking up in camp near civilization didn’t make me hungry for instant oatmeal so I packed up super fast and hit the road. I almost rode past the last cafe I would see all day, but something told me I better stop so I circled back and went to town on a delicious brealkfast. Little did I know this meal would be all that kept me sane during mistakes that would occur later in the day.

After eating I rolled inland and got back on gravel roads. I made it to Spider Lake no problem and figured I was a short 28kms from PA. I’d be there for lunch baby!

No I wouldn’t! :(

Then I hit a bunch of private roads around Horne Lake that were on my route. I just kept going and ignored the keep out signs. When I asked Google Maps for a good bike route to PA it suggested I ride over a 3000′ mountain on a gravel road. I thought it was a bold choice, but the route was short and seemed worth the climbing. I started to worry when I saw how rough and how steep the “road” was. I could barely get traction to push my bike uphill.

I should have known something was wrong…

To be continued!

Sandbar Cafe...

Sandbar Cafe…

Breakfast...

Breakfast…

Coastal beauty...

Coastal beauty…

Heading inland...

Heading inland…

Fight the giant robot for my bike!.. ;)

Fighting a giant robot for my bike!.. ;)

Spider Lake...

Spider Lake…

Private - keep out! - not...

Private – keep out! – not…

Really keep out!

Really keep out!





Replacing Rohloff Hub Oil Seals…

9 05 2013
Leaky Rohloff...

Leaky Rohloff…

The Rohloff IGH in my Surly Big Dummy has been leaking oil for a while. This doesn’t really matter a whole lot as the Rohloff continued to work just fine, but I knew it was something I should sort out. So I collected the parts I needed and specialized Rohloff tools last year and finally got around to making it happen last week.

Most of what I needed...

Most of what I needed…

Here is what you need:

  • Hub oil seals x 2 = #8244
  • Tools for mounting hub seals = #8503
  • Paper gaskets = #8710
  • Loctite = #8347
  • Oil change kit = #8410
  • Sprocket removal tool = #8510
  • Rohloff instruction manual
  • Torx 20 driver
  • 3mm, 5mm & 8mm allen keys
  • large adjustable wrench
  • chain whip
  • paper towel
  • q-tips
  • rubbing alcohol
  • beer x 6
  • music

Before getting started wash your hub/rim/tire and let dry. You don’t want to have chunks of dirt fall into the open hub and it will be nicer to work with a clean wheel.

Axle side oil seal removed...

Axle side oil seal removed…

Like all Rohloff projects I’ve embarked on it was much easier than I had feared, but complicated enough that I ran into a couple glitches. Here are some instructions on how to replace the hub oil seals.

You will also need to read up on:

  • removing/installing the disc brake [assuming you have one]
  • removing/installing the shifting mechanism
  • removing/installing the drive sprocket
  • how to do an oil change

It’s worth reading all the way through so you can be sure you have all the parts and tools you need.

Staying organized...

Staying organized…

I started on the axle side where the shift box attaches. Pulling off the disc brake rotor and the shifting mechanism was easy. The hub oil seal was in pretty tight so it took me a few tries to get it out. It helps that you can destroy it in the process since it’s headed for the bin anyways.

New hub seal...

New hub seal…

With the Rohloff tool installing the new hub seal is dead easy. Just make sure you clean out the old seal mating surface before installing and don’t get crazy with the Loctite around the new seal. You don’t want to contaminate the hub.

Seal installed...

Seal installed…

Once the hub seal is installed just reassemble the axle side of the hub. It’s a bit fiddly so read the instructions first and then tackle it.

Paper gaskets...

Paper gaskets…

It was about this point that I realized I was missing 2 small paper gaskets I needed to reinstall my shift mechanism. I was a bit bummed because I didn’t think I’d be able to source them locally and figured I might be waiting 2 weeks for mail order parts to arrive. Happily I went down to the Fairfield Bicycle Shop and they had exactly what I needed in stock. Awesome! :)

It’s really nice to have a LBS who services Rohloffs in town. If I ever have questions I can talk to them and they carry the parts I need for any projects.

The video above shows how to remove the sprocket from a Rohloff hub. These sprockets are threaded onto the hub and continuously tightened by your pedalling action. So they are a bitch to get off.

I tried....

I tried….

I tried to loosen the sprocket at home, but failed. So I carried the hub down to the kind folks at Cycles West my neighbourhood LBS. They used their bench vice to hold the hub and spin off the sprocket with a chain whip. Thanks guys – you rock! :)

The video above shows how to replace the hub oil seal on the drive side of the hub.

SLX brake parts...

SLX brake parts…

I cleaned the brake rotor with rubbing alcohol to remove any traces of hub oil that may have gotten on to it. I sanded down the pads and then set them ablaze for a while in a pool of rubbing alcohol to clean them up as well. I probably need new pads, but I’m a bit lazy so I’ll use these for now until I get some freshies.

My Big Dummy repair stand... ;)

My Big Dummy repair stand… ;)

With the hub back together I pumped some cleaning solution into it as the first part of an oil change.

The video above explains how to do an oil change.

Time to haul...

Time to haul…

I needed to work the cleaning solution all through the hub so I figured I might as well go get some groceries.

Checking everything out...

Checking everything out…

The ride let me check that the hub was working correctly in case I had goofed something during reassembly. As it turns out the IGH was purring like a kitten! :)

My buddy Steve...

My buddy Steve…

I ran into my buddy Steve so we talked cargo bikes and he checked out the passenger deck.

Fresh oil...

Fresh oil…

Once home I let the dirty oil drain out and then I injected 25ml of the clean stuff and buttoned up the Rohloff.

See you in 5000kms...

See you in 5000kms…

Since my Big Dummy doesn’t see big mileage these days and lives inside I won’t be messing with this Rohloff for a few years.

Ready for summer...

Ready for summer…

Now that I have been through it all once I could replace a set of Rohloff hub seals in 1hr – assuming I had the parts and a bench vice at home. Sadly I’ll probably forget everything I just did by the time I need to do it again! ;)





Surly Pugsley – Amazon Tree Frog Edition…

8 05 2013
Red is faster...

Red is faster…

I’ve been working on some born again Pugsley wheels since January. First I bought some Rolling Darryl rims and got them powder coated red.

My inspiration...

My inspiration…

Then I overhauled my Alfine 8 IGH. Finally I got the new rims swapped into the old wheels at the Fairfield Bicycle Shop.

The Pugsley ready for action...

The Pugsley ready for action…

The new wheels are wider and lighter than before. They should improve my sand floatation. If I am lucky they’ll never seen any snow! ;) I’m not sure if I will notice much difference in bikepacking mode.

Alfine 8 and Rolling Darryl - what a team!

Alfine 8 and Rolling Darryl – what a team!





Surly Krampus Build…

16 04 2013
Krampus in action...

Krampus in action…

I’ll hold off on a full blown review of this bike until the end of the summer so I can do it justice. Here is the build list for my Krampus for those who enjoy geeking out on such things.

Surly Krampus

  • medium frame [ST = 16.75" Eff TT = 24"] & Krampus fork
  • sparkly bass boat green
  • Race Face Evolve 100m 6 deg stem
  • Race Face Atlas AM bar [730mm 6 deg rise 9 deg sweep]
  • FSA Orbit Z headset
  • Ergon grips
  • Alfine 11 shifter
  • Shimano SLX brakes [180mm/160mm]
  • Thompson Elite seatpost
  • Brooks B17 saddle
  • Shimano Deore cranks w/ 32T Race Face chainring
  • NRG Slabalanche pedals
  • SRAM 9 speed chain
  • Stan’s Flows rim + Hope Pro2 hub
  • Stan’s Flow rim = Alfine 11 IGH
  • Surly Knard 120 tpi tires + 29 x 1.75″/2.5″ tubes
  • weight = 31.5lbs

The medium framed Krampus has a long TT and short ST. That makes swinging a leg over the bike easy, but limits the size of framebag you can fit inside. I’m used to MTBs with less standover clearance [like my Pugsley] and I’ve never injured my man bits. ;) I debated getting the large frame and using an 80mm stem to get a bigger frame triangle, but I decided the trade off of a longer wheelbase wasn’t worth it for our tight forest trails.

Click for Surly Krampus info page...

Click for Surly Krampus info page…

This is essentially the build kit from my On One Scandal 29er MTB transplanted to the Krampus. Surly very wisely didn’t go off the deep end with an obscure frame standard that would require parts nobody had on hand. Instead they made sure that if you have a 29er MTB you can swap your parts over to a Krampus and get rolling.

Ready for building up...

Ready for building up…

The main changes for the Krampus were a wider set of 710mm Race Face bars and a longer stem to dial in the fit. Even though the 650mm bars I used on the Scandal felt fine on it as soon as I sat on the Krampus I knew I wanted wider bars on this bike. The 730mm wide bars feel perfect.

The Stan’s Flow rims have an internal width of 22.5mm. They aren’t an ideal match for Surly’s 3.0″ wide Knard tire, but they are paid for and in my garage so I’m going to use them. So far they’ve been fine. I’m running tubes for now, but will switch to tubeless down the road when I move to some wider Rabbit Hole rims.

Enjoying the ride...

Enjoying the ride…

Click here for more Krampus photos.





The Girlz ride Terra Nova Trail…

15 04 2013
Dead fall...

Dead fall…

Last time I went riding with Sharon and her friend J [fall 2012] we left with J having two broken hands and Sharon could barely walk. That was an easy paced chill ride… ;)

One of many water crossings...

One of many water crossings…

So when we all went riding again last week our mission was clear – everybody comes home in one piece!

I picked a trail that is as close to XC as I have near at hand to our home in coastal BC. Sadly that doesn’t mean buff endless singletrack. But it does mean you can ride your bike a bunch of the time without facing a techy obstacle at every turn and when you do face an obstacle you mostly have to get off your bike and walk. Walking may not be as fun a riding, but it’s safer…;)

Here is a solo ride report from the same trail last August when it was much much drier.

Sometimes you gotta push in the bush...

Sometimes you gotta push in the bush…

Our typical MTBing trails are what the kids call “all mountain”, which translates to steep and techy. I’d call it “Costal BC all mountain” which in my mind denotes a higher than normal density of the tech and often slippery conditions”. So although this isn’t a Colorado Buff trail this is a chill safe-ish MTB option around here.

Sharon riding her Pugsley...

Sharon riding her Pugsley…

I suggested that Sharon ride her Pugsley instead of her 6″ travel FS bike. Partially because this trail didn’t really need tons of travel and partially because I want her to get comfy doing easy MTBing trails on the Pugs to facilitate future bikepacking adventures.

J still smiling...

J still smiling…

Although Sharon has turned into a decent shredder she’s only been riding MTBs for 3yrs. Has really only ridden 1 MTB [Santa Cruz Nomad] and 95% of her MTBing has been in 1 bike park. So her skill set is good, but not broad.

She also has a lot of Baja sand riding experience, but that’s a pretty niche skill set not much use most other places.

Team effort...

Team effort…

For the first hour I got flack about suggesting the Pugs because she got pounded on a rigid bike trying to ride it like a long travel FS bike. Her FS bike has a dropper post so I setup her saddle at 70% normal height which she thought was too low when it was chill and too high on the few steep sections.

So she walked her bike a bunch when she could have ridden and complained a lot. I just told her that the bike she had at the moment was the Pugs and to get on with riding it…lol…tough love!

The mighty Krampus...

The mighty Krampus…

It would have helped morale if I was riding my Pugs as well, but it was at the LBS getting my Rolling Darryl rims built into wheels. I was riding my Krampus which was rigid and semi-fat so I didn’t feel guilty for flying along on a cloud of high-tech suspension!

Gloomy forest singletrack...

Gloomy forest singletrack…

The good news is that after an hour the complaints went away and Sharon started shredding the rocky climbs and other challenging sections. Then she even commented how easy it was to climb the Pugs on rough or slippery terrain and how it rolled over river rocks like they weren’t there.

Mission accomplished! :)

Splish Splash!

Splish Splash!

I’m not one of these guys that thinks fat bikes are the best MTBs for just about every kind of riding. I like my other MTBs plenty and for a lot of the riding I do they are miles better than my fatty…BUT…for ‘xploring poorly maintained trails in wet conditions big fat rubber is pretty sweet and the Pugs has a great geometry for this kind of riding.

I’m glad Sharon came to that conclusion on her own. Especially riding an unloaded bike on a short trail ride. This will make the leap to carrying some camping gear and having to mountain bike a lot easier.

J charging the creek...

J charging the creek…

I’m happy to report J made it back to the car un-broken and smiling. :cool:

Racing the setting sun back to the car...

Racing the setting sun back to the car…

Of course Sharon did have some criticisms of the BB7s for MTBing compared to her Nomad’s hydros as well as a few other upgrades. I pointed out that the Pugs was a bike worthy of upgrading and when she wanted to spend some $$ we could tackle anything she liked…:D;):thumbsup:





Blessed Silence!

5 04 2013
What noise?

What noise?

As I was pounding along last weekend I suddenly realized something was missing from my usual ride experience – noise! My MTB has a Hope hub that sounds like angry bees making love when I coast. It used to make a lot of noise from chainslap as well, but I cured that with a clutch derailleur – although I still get various shifting noises when changing up gears on the Nomad.

My 29er bikepacking bike has an Alfine 11 IGH in it and horizontal dropouts. That means the chain is tight all the time and can’t really move around or make any noise. The A11 coasts and pedals silently. Even the shifts are accompanied by only a very soft click.

I’m so used to my bikes making a lot of noise that it’s a bit of a surprise to experience the peacefulness of a silent drivetrain.

That silence leaves more room for me to hear what’s going on around me and let’s me get lost deeper in my own thoughts.

There are times when making noise to give bears notice I’m coming through is a smart move. However, I’d rather attach a $4 bear bell to my bike when needed. It makes noise anytime I am moving – rather than just when I am coasting and I can take it off when I don’t want to make a racket.

There are loads of good reasons to use an IGH and specifically an Alfine 11, but at the moment silence is what I am appreciating the most.





Inspecting my Shimano Alfine 8 IGH…

12 02 2013
My Alfine 8...4yrs old and never maintained...

My Alfine 8 IGH…4yrs old and never maintained…

With some new Surly Rolling Darryl rims ready to be built up for my Pugsley I couldn’t put off inspecting my Alfine 8 IGH any longer. I bought it new over 4yrs ago and have never opened it up. To be honest I was a little worried what I would find inside and I was prepared to buy a new hub rather then spend the $$ building up a wheel set with compromised parts

A filthy Pugsley ready for some love after 9000kms on the back of my truck...

A filthy Pugsley ready for some love after 9000kms on the back of my truck…

Here is an outline of what my Alfine 8 has been through:

  • 6 months on the beach in Baja
  • 2 Canadian winters
  • bikepacking
  • winter mountain biking on Vancouver Island
  • 1 trip to burning man
  • 5 chains
  • 1 set of trashed Phil Woods BB bearings
Disc side of Alfine...

Disc side of Alfine…

My plan was to inspect the hub myself at home and then take it to the Fairfield Bike Shop for any maintenance it needed. If the hub was not worth a new rim I’d keep it built up with the Large Marge as a spare for our Pugsleys and buy a new hub.

I found the following useful guides for overhauling an Alfine 8 IGH:

Ready for surgery...

Ready for surgery…

Taking the IGH apart is straightforward – about a 15 min job taking your time. You’ll find the instructions in the links above.

This video will also walk you through it.

My Alfine 8 internals...

My Alfine 8 internals…

I was ready for all kinds of badness when I pulled the internals out. This hub has been used hard and didn’t owe my anything. So you can imagine my shock when the damn thing looked perfect.

Looking good...

Looking good…

And I’m not kidding about that when I say perfect. No rust. No dirt. No water. The factory grease was still clearly in place.

The empty hub shell...

The empty hub shell…

I was very impressed and changed my plans. I didn’t see any point in going through the cleaning and relubing process when the original grease was in such good shape. The oil lube promised even better hub efficiency, but when I thought about it ease of maintenance and reliability was more important to me than slightly easier rolling. Plus I can always strip the grease and relube with oil later now that I see how easy opening the hub is.

Non-driveside bearing race/inner lock nut...

Non-driveside bearing race/inner lock nut…

I cleaned the cones on both sides and made sure they were looking good. Everything was running great so I didn’t see the point in trying to break the hub down further. With my luck I would screw up a perfectly good hub trying to make it “better”!

Time to grease and reassemble...

Time to grease and reassemble…

I should have cleaned the driveside of the IGH before I cracked it open. Since I didn’t I was careful I didn’t contaminate the internals.

Alfine porn...

Alfine porn…

The only lubing I did was adding some grease to both outboard bearings to help keep water out of the hub.

Dropping the internals back in...

Dropping the internals back in…

I sealed the Alfine 8 IGH back up and ensured the locknuts weren’t too tight.

Time to deal with the external bits...

Time to deal with the external bits…

Next up was a quick clean up of the external parts of the hub.

Just a little bit dirty...

Just a little bit dirty…

Baja wasn’t kind to the drivetrain.

Time for chain #6...

Time for chain #6…

The cog and the chainring show some wear, but I figured I’ll get another year out of them. The chain on the other hand is trashed – another year – another $16!

Chain KIA - the rest is fine with some love..

Chain KIA – the rest is fine with some love..

I didn’t bother reassembling the hub 100% as its next move will be to a truing stand for the Rolling Darryl rim swap. Once clean I bagged all the small parts so they wouldn’t get lost.

The disc rotor looks good...

The disc rotor looks good…

For a final test I threw the rear wheel back in the frame and gave it a spin. It rotated for a long time confirming the axle wasn’t overly tight and that the new grease didn’t cause any significant drag. I also checked the hub for lateral play- loose is bad.

Back whens he was new...

Back when she was new…

I expected this mission to end with some saddness and possibly some $$ being spent on a new hub. I’m still amazed the internals are in such good shape. Perhaps not good as new, but certainly worth transfering over to the rebuilt wheels.

Nice one Shimano! :)





Showing the Pugsley some love…

31 01 2013
New and used bling for my Pugs...

New and used bling for my Pugs…

I’m back in Victoria after a lovely trip south of the border. Having ridden my Surly Pugsley a ton in Baja I’ve come to appreciate it more than ever. I figured its many years of loyal service deserved some pay back. So I collected a few new and used parts to install on the bike.

  • Titec H-bar [used to be my Pugs bar and is going back on]
  • Brooks B17 [comfy for long rides]
  • lightly used SRAM 8spd chain
  • Surly Rolling Darryl rims with cut outs

I’ve been through a lot of handlebars and saddles on the Pugsley. I’m going back to the Titec H-bar because it provided the best balance of comfort and control for non-technical riding/touring. I’ve come to the realization that techy MTBing on a rigid bike just isn’t my thing. I’ve got a full suspension bike I enjoy riding technical terrain with much more. My only gripe with the Titec H-bar was the control placement for steep techy terrain. If I take that off the menu the H-bar rocks.

The plastic SDG saddle that’s currently on the Pugs is awesome for short rides of 1hr or 2hrs, but isn’t so comfy for all day rides. I had a spare Brooks B17 so I’ll use that instead.

My Pugsley’s chain is thoroughly trashed after the many weeks of beach use. I found a lightly used 8spd SRAM chain in my spare parts box so I’ll throw it on.

On the wheel front are the only new parts for the Pugs. A set of Surly Rolling Darryl rims with cut outs. My current rims are old skool Large Marges – I think I have the uber heavy DH version. So I’ll be able to drop weight from my wheels and get a wider tire footprint for sand use. This is definitely not an essential upgrade. My old wheels were going strong, but I’ve wanted to check out some of these lighter and wider rims for a while.

Before I mess with my current wheels I’m going to open up the Shimano Alfine 8 IGH. I want to make sure it’s in decent condition after 4yrs of neglect. If it isn’t I’ll use a different IGH – possibly a Rohloff I am not using or I’ll buy another Alfine 8 since they are so cheap and I don’t really need the Rohloff’s wide gear range for my fat biking.

If possible I’ll reuse the old spokes and nipples on the new rims. Who knows I may even get motivated to go tubeless for the maximum pimpage of the Pugs! ;)





Got sand?

23 12 2012
Sandy Pugselys - just how I like 'em...

Sandy Pugselys – just how I like ‘em…

Sharon off to a hula hooping jam on the beach...

Sharon off to a hula hooping jam on the beach…

 





Feeling Surly…

19 11 2012

High five!

I got out for two rides on my Surly LHT this weekend. Sharon came with me for a ride into town on Sunday. She injured her knee playing squash and has been laying low while the inflammation subsided. She needs to see a doctor next week and will need 1 or 2 operations to repair the damage. Happily her physio said biking was okay as long as her knee wasn’t in pain. Sharon did great so she’ll resume her daily bike commutes.

I’m leaving town Wednesday so these were probably my last Trucker rides of 2012. I miss my LHT already! ;)





Got OMM?

18 11 2012

Old Man Mountain Sherpa [old skool version] on Sharon’s Pugsley…

I’m running short on time before I leave for Baja so I am frantically trying to take care of everything on my To Do List.

The OMM racks looks at home on a fatty…

In Mexico our Pugsleys are mostly beasts of burden. They have to carry ice and beer back to camp as well as let us roll down the beach in search of adventure when it’s not windy enough to kiteboard.

Ready to haul…

We’ll do some desert mountain biking as well. The OMM racks are so light that when you don’t have panniers on them you can pretty much forget you have them installed.

That’s one good looking fatbike… ;)





Sharon Battles the Elements…

18 10 2012

Sharon in the Bike Cave…

When Sharon started commuting to work on a bicycle rainy weather meant she would drive and take a day off the bike. It rarely pours rain here in Victoria, but the winter months do feature some precipitation. A typical rainy day here can best be described as “moist”. It’s definitely wet, but not outrageously so.

When I built up Sharon’s bike I installed full fenders and long mudflaps. I just can’t imagine a utility bike without ‘em. That meant she wasn’t getting wet and dirty from road spray. Sharon has slowly built up a set of clothes to ride to work in. Featuring either synthetic materials or wool they deal with the dampness from a light drizzle and from sweat without issue.

Her latest bikey investment is a blue Gore Bike Wear jacket that’s waterproof & breathable. It has allowed her to comfortably ride in light rain and to survive the occasional heavier deluge she faces on her bike. The practical upshot of this evolution is that Sharon is riding to work in almost any weather now. If we get a few days of snow she’ll skip the bike and if the weather looks ridiculously rainy she’ll skip it, but that still leaves 95% of the days in a year that look bikey to her.

It’s been fun to watch her evolve from a non-rider to a casual social rider to a occasional commuter to a regular commuter and now to Uber Commuter status. :)





The Rocket goes Pimp!

27 05 2012

Scott’s new bar bag…

I guess my white Porcelain Rocket bikepacking bag bling was so hot Scott decided to make some for himself.

Scott’s pimped out Hunter 29er…

He works incredibly hard making bags for other cyclists so he deserves to rock some sweet gear himself. I think he’s showing some restraint by keeping his old black frame bag.

A lovely white seatbag…

Fresh bikepacking gear looks silly. Time to get that stuff dirty!





Gravel Pimp – Extreme Recon

8 05 2012

The plan…

The plan was to ride our bikepacking rigs from Lake Cowichcan along the Trans Canada Trail to an abandoned mining town called Leech Town. This is shown on the map above in green. This would allow us to jump on the Galloping Goose Trail just below Leechtown and ride home 90% on gravel/dirt. Even more importantly this would give us a critical link in an ambitious Gravel Pimp route that would ride the whole of Vancouver Island from top to bottom. The problem with our little slice of paradise is that it’s a narrow island with mountains that funnel you along certain routes whether they are going the way you want or not. So an efficient dirt route from Lake Cowichan to Victoria would be key for further exportation northwards.

What actually happened – click for larger version…

Things did not go as planned and I am sad to say we ended the day with 170kms on the GPS and no dirt route home…=-( What I can say is we tried really hard, but were denied at every turn! Don’t let anyone tell you the life of a Gravel Pimp is all professional photographers, diamond studded water bottles and bikini clad ladies. It ain’t true!

Staying toasty by the fire…

Sharon was kind enough to drive Scott and I out to the Municipal Campground at Lake Cowichan. The place was almost empty this early in the year so we grabbed a spot by the lake and lit a fire to hang out at while we drank some beer and solved all the problems in the bike industry!

Scott’s narrow room with a view…

Scott has a luxurious 1 man tent that packs up small.

Garbage bag with a view…

My bivy sack packs small, but isn’t very luxurious.

Scott’s Rick Hunter 29er…

Scott always manages to pack more gear into less space on his bike and have it all look so tight.

My Scandal 29er…

I’ve got half the stuff and my bike looks like it’s bulging everywhere it can…=-)

Excited to start the pimping…

We rode into Lake Cowichan and found the local grocery store was open early. Surprisingly it had excellent espresso which got us off on the right foot. Next up was getting on the Trans Canada Trail [known as the Cowichan Valley Trail to the locals].

This is what we came for…

The riding was sublime. Gorgeous country to ride through – easy rail grade undulations and nobody else in sight.

Pumpkin Pimping…

Several wooden bridges along the way gave us great views of fast running creeks.

Warming up…

The trail varied from dirt to gravel and back with wide open sections and narrow overgrown bits.

oh yeah!

It was so nice we let our guards down and the smack-down that happened later in the day took us by surprise.

Adding a bit of air for faster rolling…

We were on the trail early and cranking along at a good clip. So good that it seemed sure I’d be home to watch the hockey game in the early afternoon.

Kinesol Trestle…

The Kinesol Trestle is an impressive structure. The highest wooden trestle in Canada apparently. I kind of wished we had spent more time there to photograph it, but some times I feel like a slacker and sometimes I feel like I was born to ride. On this day I had ants in my pants!

Cruising the Kinesol Trestle…

South of the trestle we had another pretty chill section of gravel to pimp. Chit chatting and laughing our way along the route little did we know of our impending doom.

Stopping for a snack…

Peperoni, gummy bears, granola bars, M&M’s…you name it – we ate it!

Scott admiring his handiwork…

As we reached the end of the Trans Canada Trail we had a short 15km section of route finding we needed to do so we could link up with the north end of the Galloping Goose Trail.

WTF?

Back in Calgary Glenmore Reservoir is part of the city’s water supply. You can’t swim or let your dogs thrash around in it, but nobody cares if you walk, run or bike around it. So when we saw that the lake we needed to skirt on our connector was part of the city of Victoria’s water supply we figured they wouldn’t let you through with an oil tanker, but we didn’t think the would mind us pedalling through.

Scott assuming “the” position!

We were wrong. So wrong. Like Totally wrong. I figured even with a locked gate we could sneak past on bikes, but that was simply not going happen when we reach the DMZ.

Take no prisoners….

Scott wasn’t about to let a sniper in a guard tower and 2 dobermans stop him. He launched over the fence and asked me to throw him the Hunter. Before I could a black van rolls up and 6 masked security thugs jump out. Scott levelled 3 of them with his Porcelain Rocket Kung Fu, but the other 3 and the 2 dogs took him down in an EPIC bitch slap. At least when they threw him back over the fence I was able to catch him to stop further injury.

Happier times…

I didn’t have painkillers or a first aid kit so I treated Scott’s wound’s with gummy bears. They seemed to do the trick!

Time to work on Plan B…

We just didn’t have the firepower to break through the DMZ’s defensive perimeter. So we could either give up and go home or explore the missing map section and hope to find a route around the DMZ back to Leech Town. Battered and bleeding Scott would not give up so we headed north to loop around the DMZ [shown in pink on the maps above].

Logging road pimping…

This meant a significant amount of backtracking along the TCT, but the sun was shining and the skies were blue so our spirits were high. If you look at the map towards the top of this post showing our actual route the red line that heads south and stops is the start of the DMZ. The red line that heads west is our attempt to loop back around the DMZ, but as you can see there wasn’t much looping going on. Eventually after some brutally hot dusty climbing we realized that finding a way around was unlikely. If we had a topo map of the area our decision would have been more solid, but sadly I left that critical bit of the map book at home.

Lots of dead ends explored…

The valley we were in headed directly west towards Port Renfrew which would have got us home, but not without another night of camping. So it was time to turn back. Although that meant another round of backtracking it was beautiful country with very few encounters with other humans. Exactly what a Gravel Pimp craves.

It’s not hard to enjoy this…

As my trip computer on the GPS was climbing towards 100kms I was starting to realize that there was no way to make this a quick ride home.

Checking out a clear cut…

My bike was working well. I had added a longer stem for a stretched out position and the Porcelain Rocket bags allowed me to ride without having to accomodate my camping gear and food. So a few more hours in the saddle seemed like reasonable proposition.

Time for a soda break…

We hit 100kms as we reached pavement again. Our options now were either head for the Mill Bay Ferry and then ride down the quiet west side of the Sannich Peninsula or climb the heights of the Malahat with traffic roaring all around us and next to no shoulder.

Hmmmm?

We went with the ferry option as Plan C. On our way we stopped for a cold soda break. I gapped that the seasons were changing so my only top was a long sleeve wool zip neck. That would have been great 2 weeks ago, but on this hot day I was baking. Hence a cold sugary soda made me very happy.

Why is Scott angry?

Reaching the ferry should have been a happy time for us. We’d get a well deserved rest and the ride home along the far shore was topographically unchallenging.

But….

The fine print can be a bitch…

Neither Scott or I can be called rich, but we can afford the $9.20 ferry ride from Mill Bay to Brentwood Bay. Of course having spent our last $20 cash for coffee and food we only had credit cards and bank cards. No cash and after being beaten up at the DMZ Scott wouldn’t let me pimp him out to ferry passengers for a free ride.

So that left the Malahat. **sigh**

A little ‘schwacking…

To get to the Malahat we had to grind up a long hot steep climb from the ferry terminal and then bushwhack cross country  so we could jump a concrete barrier.

Not paradise for cyclists…

All that sweat and tears got us onto a busy 4 lane highway with gnarly shoulders. The photo above is the best part and far better than most of it. Not to mention if you look at the elevation profile on the map near the top of this post that last big ass hump is what awaited us.

Did I mention it was hot and we were riding during rush hour?

**sigh**

The only good part of the Malahat was looking over and seeing some ice cold water running down the rocks next to me. I stopped and poured handful after handful of water over my head. Washed my face and gobbled everything I could find in my bar bag.

That got me psyched for the last push over the top and the uber narrow shoulder on the high speed descent down the other side.

A Gravel Pimp happy to be home…=-)

At the bottom of the Malahat we stopped for another cold soda and a couple donuts at Tim Horton’s. That gave us the energy to crank back down the Galloping Goose to home.

Ride Stats:

  • 170kms ridden [173kms for Scott who rode home from my place]
  • Ride Time 12:15hrs
  • Stopped Time 3:28hrs
  • Avg speed 19.4kph

On the plus side we had an epic ride with great scenery and no traffic….until the Malahat! On the negative side we haven’t found a good gravel/dirt rout from up island back to Victoria.

Sharon confirming my loaded bike was indeed heavy…

A recon mission is only a failure if you don’t gather new info to plan future operations. By that standard we succeeded. We confirmed the DMZ presents an impassable obstacle and we confirmed that a reroute around isn’t’ straight forward. We also found out that if you want to ride the Mill Bay Ferry you better bring cash!

We still need a verified dirt route to Victoria so…

  • we could ride bikes north from the Galloping Goose to Leech Town and try to recon a route to the active logging road we were on. Going from less used to more used routes is always easier than the reverse.
  • we could continue down the active logging road we were on towards Port Renfrew and then ride back to Victoria. That will work, but it’s long-cut not a shortcut home!….;)
  • I may try riding the logging road on my dualsport motorcycle checking out every turn off that might go where we need to go. There were a few low probability routes we didn’t explore due the the climbing req’d. I don’t mind twisting the throttle for a few hours even if the chances of success are slim.

Until next time – live large and prosper!





Surly Troll Rohloff Build…

5 05 2012

Pushing Pedals Blog…

The Surly Troll is a popular 26″ bikepacking rig and some smart folks are building them up with Rohloff hubs. If you click on the images in this post you’ll be launched to other sites where you can enjoy some IGH bikepacking goodness,,,,=-)

Cass Gilbert’s Rohloff Troll…

BTW – Pushing Pedals Blog has a shout out to Porcelain Rocket that’s worth a look.





Jones Spaceframe vs. Surly Pugsley…

20 03 2012

My Jonesly/Jugsley with a Jones Spaceframe...

The Jeff Jones Spaceframe mountain bike with wild truss fork is a design I’ve been keen to check out for a while. Besides the usual issues of cost and storage the Jones presents a few new problems that slow any bicycle acquisition plans:

  1. totally unique design makes you ask how is it going to ride?
  2. relatively high cost for a production bike makes you want to make the right choice.
  3. one size frame that is on the small side of what I’d normally get makes me wonder if it will even fit.
  4. rare as hell so forget about a test ride.
  5. Jeff Jones advocates the use of a 5″ front tire/wheel, but since he uses a proprietary front hub/fork any wheel you build will only work on this bike…so do you build it as a 29er of a half-fat? Trying both is expensive.

A boy and his new bike...

As luck would have it Scott “Porcelain Rocket” Felter is even a bigger bike geek than me. So it’s not completely shocking to me that he just built up a shinny new Jones steel Spaceframe. I was very happy to hear this both because I am stoked for a buddy to get some new wheels and because I would finally get to ride a fabled Jones mountain bike and see if everything I read online was real.

What Jeff has to say about his design...

So what’s so special about a Jones Spaceframe design?

  • Jeff has been perfecting his concept for years building custom bikes for himself and customers.
  • his custom business was so successful he no longer takes any orders due to an excessive waiting list.
  • he has a rabidly loyal following of customers on his custom and production bikes.
  • Jeff designs complete bikes including frame/fork and components. This allows him to refine his designs in a way that a frame builder can’t.
  • His bikes put your weight way back over the rear wheel for a light front end that is easy to loft over obstacles.
  • a short TT and swept back bars put you well behind the front wheel sitting, but as you stand your weight moves forward to keep the front wheel planted on steep climbs.
  • an ultra stiff fork with low trail front end and 135 wide front hub makes for very precise steering.
  • clearance for widest 29er tires in rear and Surly’s 5″ Big Fat Larry on the front.
  • EBB for IGH or SS use, but gears are and option as well.
  • design of frame is supposed to help smooth out ride by transferring bump forces away from rider.

It’s too early to confirm or deny the performance claims of the Jones design, but you can agree that Jeff has built a very unique mountain bike that’s pushing the boundaries of the industry paradigm on the trails. I can also say that it’s a beautiful bike to behold in person with lovely lines and a purposeful stance.

She's a playful steed...

Once you get over the unique design you’ll rightly ask yourself what kind of riding is this bike for? Based on the limited experience I’ve had with it so far and what I’ve read about other folks’ rides online I’d characterize it as an all mountain play bike. It’s capable of rolling along smooth XC trails just fine and when the trail gets steep and techy it has the rearward weight bias, leverage at the wide bars and stiff front end to drop down anything you have the balls to try. Now it’s fully rigid – fat front not withstanding – so you will be going slow and choosing your line with care when my Nomad’s 6″ of travel wil allow it to bomb the gnar without a second thought. I don’t think that’s a better or worse option – they are just two different ways to come at a problem.

Lazy gets a spin...

Whether or not the Jones design makes sense for you will depend on where you ride and who you ride with. I don’t ride for the fastest average speed or most miles of trail complete per session. I ride to smile!

So far the Jones has been a smile factory...

Scott set his Jones up single speed with a fat front and Jones Loop H-bars to stay true to the Jones philosophy. It looks like an ideal bike for our local riding which is slow and techy with traction issues and lots of wet dirt for munching an expensive drivetrain. Scott’s a monster so there is no doubt he’ll still crush us mere mortals no matter what he rides so I’m keen to see how normal folks like Sharon, A-Man and myself fare on the Jones.

Ponesly?, Jugsley?, Jonesly?

I couldn’t help, but notice some similarities between my Pugsley and Scott’s Jones:

  • fat front
  • Loop H-bars
  • Pug = 23.4″ eff TT vs. 23″ on Jones
  • Pug wheelbase = 42.6″ vs 42″ for Jones
  • Pug and Jones = 72.0 deg seattube angle
  • Pug HT angle = 70.5 & Jones = 70.0
  • Pug fork offset = 43mm & 55mm for Jones

With a seatback seatpost [or jamming my SA saddle all the way back] to simulate the rearward weight bias of the Jones my Pugsley gets pretty close to the same numbers. The biggest difference is the Jones has lower trail than the Pugsley plus the Pug has a fat rear tire as well.

Cousins?

Before Jeff Jones sends out a hit squad to silence my heresy…;-) I am not suggesting my Pugsley is the same as a Jones. I can’t do anything about the fork offset of the Pugsley so the handling will always be different. All I am saying is that it seems possible to replicate some of the elements of the Jones design in a Pugsley to, hopefully, end up with a fun playful bike that makes a good companion for a Jones on our local trails.

Time for some Nates...

As amazing as the Jones Spaceframe & truss fork combo is the Pugsley has some advantages of its own:

  • can be run full fat, half fat or full 29er
  • Pugsley complete can be had for about the same price as Jones Spaceframe/truss fork/Loop H-bar
  • full fat means a Pugsley can be used in snow/sand where a skinny Jones 29er rear would sink
  • you can use a suspension fork on a Pugsley
  • a stock Pugsley comes setup with a versatile XC geometry and cockpit position
  • if you want you can Jones-ify a Pugsley with Loop H-bars and a setback seatpost
To take advantage of  the full fat option I put some Surly Nate tires on my Pugsley. This gives me a huge rear tire footprint for traction on our sloppy trails and some passive suspension effect due to the 4″ wide low pressure tire.

Jones Loop H-bars...

You can see in the picture above how far back your hands are using the Loop H-bars vs. a flat bar or XC riser bar. This shortens your effective top tube quite a bit so you need to either buy a larger frame if you want the typical centered XC/touring body position or you need to get a setback seatpost and push your body weight further over the rear wheel. The later option allows for using both positions depending on the mission at hand. When I get a chance I’ll try the rear biased body position in sand/snow to see if less weight on the front wheel compromises the traction at that end on flat terrain. If it doesn’t that would be awesome to not have to switch back and forth.

Ramming the SA all the way back...

Without a setback seatpost the best I could do was ramming my SA saddle all the way back…sadly this bent the rails….I’m too chicken to verify how badly….hopefully I didn’t trash and expensive saddle…=-( I’ll be getting this issue sorted as soon as possible.

Scott throwing the Jones around...

Let’s face it talk is cheap…what we need is some back to back trail riding testing. Don’t worry we are happy to oblige…=-)

Dropping into the Green Machine...





Gravel Pimping…

16 02 2012

The Gravel Pimps at Oak Bay Bikes Westshore...

Scott and I have been talking about getting out and doing some bikepacking on the south end of Vancouver Island, but life has been getting in the way. So we decided to make a break for it when we saw a window of good weather Monday. With both of us busy with work our departure got pushed back until 4pm. In December that would have meant a 100% night ride our first day, but just a few weeks later we still had nearly 2hrs of daylight to enjoy from the saddle. We stopped in at the Westshore location of Oak Bay Bikes just to say hi and check out what they had on the floor.

What else would I rock for bags?

It got dark soon after we left OBB on the Galloping Goose Trail. We both had about 900 lumens of LED firepower at our disposal which we didn’t use at full-power given the easy terrain and our sedate cruising speed.  We wanted to hit up the 17 Mile House Pub on Hwy 14 for beers and burgers so I stopped a few times to check my iPhone. I don’t like riding with a GPS on my bars unless absolutely necessary so I had to stop and retrieve my phone each time.

Scott warming his hands...

During one of these stops I found myself at the top of a set of stairs [click here for a photo from the next day's return trip]. Scott wisely backtracked and went down the trail. I of course had to do a stupid human trick and decided to ride down the stairs. Now normally this would be no problem, but at night with a new bike loaded for the first time with gear and backpack, my weight distribution and inability to get back off the saddle because of the seatbag resulted in an over the bars endo/vault. Thankfully not very fast, but nevertheless I ended up with two sore palms and a bashed up elbow/knee on the left side of my body.

**sigh**

It’s been years since I’ve been even moderately hurt on a MTB so I don’t feel hard done by, but what a dumb way to get banged up. No heroic story of a 6′ drop off a skinny wood bridge while being chased by a cougar…just operator error!

Got gravel?

Luckily I was able to find a hand position on my bar ends that wasn’t terribly painful and we cranked along the rest of the way to the pub. Several pints of beer and many dead chicken wings later I was feeling better. I climbed back on my bike gingerly and we cruised the rest of the way to our destination for the night.

A room with a view and no doors!

I had spotted this shelter last time I was up this way biking with Aaron. Since only crazy people go camping in early February on Vancouver Island we had the place to ourselves and simply ignored the no camping signs. Yeah we are bad asses!

Low rent, hardwood floors and indoors bike parking - score!

The shelter was spacious and clean with great protection from wind and the inevitable rain that was to fall that night. Bikepacking bags only let you carry the bare essentials so we didn’t get up to much upon arrival beyond setting up our sleeping bags and munching on a few snacks. When it’s dark and cold I find myself very quickly jumping into a down cocoon! I told Scott he could yell and kick me if I was snoring too loud and with that I passed out.

Black and white On One Scandal 29er...

I woke up in the middle of the night and did a quick inventory of my aches and pains. Everything was feeling pretty good except for my left hand which was very tender and swollen. Not great, but at least I knew I could bike home with 4 out of 5 contact points on the bike feeling decent. Back to sleep I went.

Rohloff'd Hunter 29er...

I wish I had a watch in my sleeping bag as I got up at 6am [according to Scott] to pee and went back to bed because it was still dark. Had I known it was 6am I would have probably made a move to get rolling. After a certain point sleeping on a hard surface with a thin thermarest doesn’t provide much additional benefit.

It's alive!

It started to just get light at 8am so I got rolling. I fired up the stove and made a random dehydrated meal I found at home and some green tea. It was less than gourmet, but it hit the spot.

Minimal, but effective...

Water is plentiful in the rainforest so dehydrated meals are very handy if not the most delicious thing you can eat…=-)

Clean well stocked toilets...

Although we didn’t make much use of the campsite infrastructure there were lots of tables, water and clean toilets close at hand. Nice to see tax payer $$ going towards something I cared about instead of fighter jets!

Sooke Potholes Regional Park...

There was an old mining town a few KMs north from us and I had hoped to spin up there and check it out, but my hand was really sore and I decided it was best to make tracks for home, painkillers, ice and beer!

Scott loading my bike bags...

With one bum hand I was having issues loading my gear back into my bike bags. Scott was kind enough to help me out. Lucky for him I hurt my left hand otherwise I would have needed some assistance in the toilet as well….hahaha! =)

One last look back at our hut...

The scenery up this far along the Galloping Goose Trail is stunning something you can’t appreciate riding it at night.

Pointing our bikes down the map back towards home...

I was sad to miss the mining town, but it will be there next trip. This run up the Goose is our entry pass into a vast network of forest service roads. So unless we drive our bikes to a different starting point all our bikepacking rides will pass this way.

One of the many wooden bridges on the Goose...

My left hand wasn’t terribly happy, but as long as I lifted it off the bars before any major bump was encountered I was able to tolerate light pressure as I gripped the bar end.

Scott keeps it in first gear...

We rode down the Goose slowly in a light rain. Scott kept his back brake on the whole time just to get a better workout…=-)

Yo - check the Pimp rig...

Happily the wide 29er tires rolled well over the gravel/dirt trail surface making it an easy task to spin back towards Victoria.

Another killer view...

The spectacular views helped me keep my mind off my aches and pains!

My bike not looking so clean...

I was happy to roll into my yard and pop a couple Tylenol as I took a swig from an ice cold Corona! Despite my stupidity it was still great to be out on the bike on the South Shore of Vancouver Island. This ride let me figure out some things about my bike and how to best pack it for future adventures.

Nothing a quick hose down can't fix...

The Alfine 11 IGH and the 29er hardtail bike is proving to be a fun versatile machine that’s ideal for lots of different adventures. I’m going to take a few days off the bike to let my left hand rest and then I’ll be back hard at work wearing out parts…=-)

BTW – in case you are wondering about the title of this post we decided that “Gravel Grinding” sounded too boring for a couple wild and crazy guys like us – hence we coined the new term “Gravel Pimping”. You have our permission to use it as you wish!





29er Hardtail IGH MTBs…

14 12 2011

Surly Karate Monkey...

Update: added a bunch of new frames in this post based on readers’ comments. Read the comments section for even more options. I’m too lazy to post ‘em all!

I’ve been looking at 29er hardtail mountain bike frames that would accept an IGH without using a chain tensioner. That means either an eccentric bottom bracket [EBB], sliding dropouts or horizontal dropouts. Since I’ve gone to the trouble to root out some interesting options I figured I’d share it so the other 4 guys on the planet who are interested so they can find this post with Google and perhaps find something they’d like…=-)

My Criteria:

  • must accept a Rohloff or Alfine without needing a chain tensioner
  • readily available as a frame
  • reasonable cost [under $1K- ideally under $500]
  • work with a suspension fork [I made one exception]

BTW – if you click on any image in this post you can jump to the info page for the frame shown.

Surly Ogre...

Surly Karate Monkey/Ogre

The Ogre is just a a Karate Monkey with touring attitude so I lumped them together.

  • cost ~$600CDN for frame and fork
  • steel
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • you get a fork which is nice if you want the option to ride rigid
  • fairly standard 29er MTB geometry [HA 71-72, 17" CS, suspension corrected for 80mm fork]
  • horizontal dropouts on both
  • Ogre has Rohloff OEM2 plate bolt designed into left dropout
  • frame weight 5lb 15oz
  • fork weight 2lb 10oz
  • KM probably a touch lighter than above
  • KM comes with lighter disc only fork
  • Ogre comes with old KM fork with disc/v-brake option and touring brazeons

Canfield Nimble 9...

Canfield Nimble 9

  • cost ~$650US + shipping for frame only
  • steel
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • suspension corrected for 80mm-120mm fork
  • slack all mtn 29er MTB geometry [HA 68-70, 16.25" 17.15" CS]
  • short adjustable sliding chainstays
  • frame weight 5.5lb large
  • slack 70 deg seatpost to allow for ultra short CS
  • gorgeous powdercoat

Voodoo Bokor 29...

Voodoo Bokor 29

  • cost ~$350-$400US + shipping for frame only
  • aluminum
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • suspension corrected for 100mm-120mm fork
  • standard 29er MTB geometry [HA 71-72, 16.75" CS]
  • short adjustable sliding chainstays
  • frame weight 4.4lbs @ 18″

Voodoo Soukri 29er...

Voodoo Soukri

  • cost ~$525US + shipping for frame only
  • steel [Reynolds 681]
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • suspension corrected for 100mm-120mm fork
  • standard 29er MTB geometry [HA 71-72, 17.9" CS]
  • short adjustable sliding chainstays
  • frame weight 5.2lbs @ 16″

Niner SIR...

Niner SIR

  • cost ~$899 for frame only
  • steel [Reynolds 853]
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • suspension corrected for 100mm-120mm fork
  • standard 29er MTB geometry [HA 71-72, 17.3" CS]
  • special eccentric BB
  • frame weight ??

Niner One...

Niner One

  • cost ~$899 for frame only
  • aluminum
  • tapered internal headset
  • suspension corrected for 80mm-100mm fork
  • standard 29er MTB geometry [HA 71-72, 17.3" CS]
  • special eccentric BB
  • frame weight ??

Kona Unit...

Kona Unit

  • cost ~$949 for complete bike [I'm pretty sure you can order just a frame/fork]
  • steel
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • suspension corrected for 100mm fork
  • standard 29er MTB geometry [HA 70-72, 17.1" CS]
  • sliding dropouts
  • frame weight ??

Kona Honzo...

Kona Honzo

  • cost ~$1899 for complete bike [I'm pretty sure you can order just a frame fork ~$1K]
  • steel
  • tapered internal headset
  • suspension corrected for 120mm fork
  • all mountain 29er MTB geometry [HA 68 deg, 16.3" CS]
  • 31.6mm seatpost fits dropper
  • ISCG 05 tabs
  • sliding dropouts
  • frame weight ??

On One Scandal

On One Scandal

  • cost ~$399 for frame only
  • aluminum
  • internal tapered headset
  • suspension corrected for 80mm-100mm fork
  • XC 29er MTB geometry [HA 72, 17.4" CS]
  • sliding dropouts & vertical dropouts provided
  • 31.6mm seat tube accepts a dropper post
  • tire clearance for 2.5″ 29er tires
  • available in raw, black anodized and racing green paint
  • frame weight 3.5lbs

On One Inbred...

On One Inbred

  • cost ~$350 for frame only
  • steel
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • suspension corrected for 80mm-100mm fork
  • XC 29er MTB geometry [HA 72, 17.4" CS]
  • vertical dropouts provided with horizontal dropouts available as an option
  • large tire clearance
  • frame weight ~5lbs

Photo: Shiggy

On One Lurcher

  • cost ~$800USD for frame only
  • carbon
  • tapered internal headset
  • suspension corrected for 80mm-100mm fork
  • XC 29er MTB geometry [don't have geo details yet]
  • vertical dropouts and horizontal dropouts are both available
  • large tire clearance
  • frame weight TBD
  • 18″ Lurchers are arriving in US shortly

Jeff Jones diamond frame 29er stock frame & fork...

Jeff Jones Diamond Frame

  • cost ~$750 for frame and fork
  • steel
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • no designed for a suspension fork – although you can run a 3.7″-4.7″ Surly Fat Larry tire for faux suspension if you like…=-)
  • fork takes a 135mm front disc hub
  • proprietary Jeff Jones geometry
  • vertical dropouts provided with eccentric BB
  • large tire clearance all around
  • frame weight ~5.7lbs
  • fork weight ~2.9lbs

Soma Juice 29er...

Soma Juice

  • cost ~$450USD for frame only
  • steel [Tange Prestige main triangle]
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • suspension corrected for 80mm fork
  • standard 29er XC geometry [71-72 deg HA, 17.6" CS]
  • horizontal dropouts
  • v-brake and disc brake tabs
  • 2.4″ tire clearance
  • frame weight 5.05lbs 16″ frame

Salsa El Mariachi...

Salsa El Mariachi

  • cost ~$600-$500USD for frame only
  • steel
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • suspension corrected for 80mm fork
  • standard 29er XC geometry [71 deg HA, 17.5"-18.2" CS]
  • swinging adjustable dropouts
  • disc brake tabs
  • 2.4″ tire clearance
  • frame weight 5.31lbs medium frame

Singular Swift...

Singular Swift

  • cost ~$680USD for frame only incl shipping from UK
  • steel [frame treated with rustproofing from Singular]
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • suspension corrected for 80mm fork
  • standard 29er XC geometry [71.5-72 deg HA, 17.7" CS]
  • vertical dropouts & EBB to adjust chain tension
  • disc brake tabs
  • 2.4″ tire clearance
  • frame weight 5lbs+ [don't have specific weight]

Vassago Jabber Wocky...

Vassago Jaber Wocky

  • cost ~$499USD for frame only
  • steel [frame treated with rustproofing from factory]
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • suspension corrected for 80mm fork
  • standard 29er XC geometry [71 deg HA, 17.8" CS]
  • horizontal dropouts with adjusters to dial in chain tension
  • disc brake tabs
  • 2.3″ tire clearance
  • frame weight 4.9lbs 18″ frame

Redline Monocog 29er...

Redline Monocog

  • cost ~$949USD for complete bike
  • steel
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • suspension corrected for 80mm fork
  • standard 29er XC geometry [71 deg HA, 17.5" CS]
  • sliding vertical dropouts to adjust chain tension
  • disc brake tabs
  • 2.3″ tire clearance [not confirmed]
  • frame weight 5lbs+ [not confirmed]




Victoria Winter MTBing…

21 11 2011

This is how I was feeling!

You can mountain bike all year round in Victoria [without a Pugsley!] if you take advantage of the nice weather when it arrives. Now keep in mind “nice” is relative and for this past week Sunday was a “nice” day with sunny skies and +1 deg C temperatures. Given the 90% humidity on the coast it felt a heck of a lot colder than the same temperature back in Calgary, but since we don’t live in Calgary we can’t dwell on such details. I got up early to have my ritual 3 cups of hot tea and blog a bit before Scott aka Porcelain Rocket-man aka Bag Man showed up to go mountain biking.

I never get tired of riding on these amazing leaves...

We headed to Partridge Hills hoping that some riding would warm us up.

Note the snow...

I didn’t bring my new camera along figuring 1) we wouldn’t stop that often in the cold and 2) I’d be falling a lot and didn’t want to smash it. Turns out we took a decent number of snaps as the snow and leaves made the trails very pretty.

Scott following what he thinks is a trail...

Scott is a better mountain biker than I am…hmmm…I guess that’s true of most people! So I saw a lot of him disappearing up a crazy climb or hunting down the gnarliest trail. That’s okay – I ride better when someone else is cleaning everything as I get inspired to throw my old decrepit body at techy section with less caution than normal.

Scott loves to bushwack...

I also learned that Scott’s idea of what to look for in a trail is more….ummm….flexible than mine! At one point after hike a biking for a while down a mountain side I asked him if there was a plan other than to scramble downwards carrying our bikes? His puzzled look told me that he didn’t understand what the problem was. The crazy part is does this in hard soled SPD MTB shoes and I was struggling in my 5.10’s with their climbing rubber soles!!

Eventually we found a way back to the trails...

On the bright side hike a biking is great for warming you up and I got to experience a whole different kind of being lost at Partridge Hills than normal!

Leaf porn...

I was surprised how well we were getting traction on the leaves this ride. In the past the leaves were the slippery zone – not this time. The challenging parts were the rocks, roots and muddy sections. I basically would plot a line down and techy sections guesstimating where my bike was likely to slide to and trying to bounce of obstacles on either side of the trail to keep me from crashing. I was mostly successful..=-)

The dark side?

Scott rides a sweet Hunter 29er hardtail with Rohloff and he rides it well. I got him to try my full-suspension Santa Cruz Nomad so he could see how the other half lived. He did talk a bit about getting a FS MTB so maybe my cunning plan worked…=-)

Man and Machine...

Watching Scott ride all day from my position panting like a porn star in the rear of the dirt paceline I started jonesing for a Rohloff MTB. Having a spare Rohloff built up into a nice 26″ MTB rim makes that plan reasonably easy. I may rebuild the Surly 1×1 as a Rohloff rigid MTB and see what I think. In the tight trails around Victoria my XL Santa Cruz is hard to throw around – especially going uphill so the medium frame 1×1 could be the ticket!

The Snowman rips...

Between the leaves on the ground, the green moss and white snow – it was a spectacular visual feast on this ride.

We actually met other riders!

Strangely we met more riders on today’s cold damp ride than I’ve ever met at noon on a sunny warm summer weekend…go figure!

Scott trying to find the trail out to the car...

As per usual we got lost trying to find the parking lot – even with a rider stopping to point us in the right direction! At least we are consistent…=-)

He loves to push...

I was puzzled when Scott started pushing my bike on rideable terrain, but he informed me he loved to push so no test ride was complete without seeing how a rig would hike a bike.

Bird's eye view...

Although I’ve known Scott for a few years now we’ve never lived in the same city and never ridden bikes together. So it was nice to actually ride with him instead of just talking about bikes! Scott works at home making Porcelain Rocket bike bags so he’s got a flexible schedule like I do and with Victoria winter MTBing being an opportunistic affair during windows of decent weather I predict lots more riding together…=-)





IGH’s for 170mm Fat Bikes?

10 11 2011

Salsa Ti Mukluk with 170mm rear dropout spacing...

Wide tires/rims mean that in order to use a derailleur at the back end of a Fat Bike you need to either offset the drivetrain to the right [ie. Surly Pugsley & Moonlander] or use a very wide 170mm rear hub [ie. Fatback & Salsa Mukluk]. To me the obvious solution for a bike that will be used in the snow/sand/mud is an IGH where the shifting is internal and not exposed to the elements which also means the chain doesn’t have to move side to side so clearance with the tire is not as much of a problem.

Offset Fat Bikes like the Pugsley use a 135mm dropout spacing so an IGH works just fine. However, bikes like the Mukluk shown above that use a 170mm dropout spacing don’t allow for an IGH since nobody is making 170mm IGHs.

Salsa 170mm to 135mm adapter...

Salsa and Fatback are offering adapters that reduce the rear spacing of their frames from 170mm to a standard MTB 135mm. That gives you the option to use an IGH and if you want to run a 170mm derailleur hub you can do that as well.

170mm to 135mm Salsa adapter...

Fatback is talking about offering a 170mm frame with sliding dropouts. Currently their adapter will only work with the aluminum Fatback frames. Those frames are available without sliding dropouts, but they are prototyping an aluminum sliding dropout Fatback. I’m not sure when that will be available.

A few notes:

  • from what I can tell you’ll have to use an IGH that accepts a QR [ie. Rohloff @ $1600] to use a 170mm to 135mm adapter. I also have to confirm that OEM2 torque support/Monkey Bone setup would work with the adapter.
  • all IGHs require some method to resist rotation of the shell under high pedal loads [Rohloff uses a torque arm, Alfine uses non-turn washers, etc..] I haven’t seen anyone make this work with the Salsa adapter yet. It might be feasible, but it could be a deal breaker if not so it’s worth noting the uncertainty.
  • the chainline of an IGH needs to be straight and lined up with the single ring up front. I know that the 17.5mm Pugs offset is no problem, the Moonlander uses 28mm offset [I'm not sure how easy it is to get a good chainline there] and with the Salsa adapter you’d have an offset of 35mm which may be a significant issue as you don’t have that many ultra wide BB/crank choices.
  • 9:zero:7 offers frames in 135mm and 170mm dropout spacing and has confirmed that a 135mm AL fat bike with sliding dropouts is on the menu for next season
  • so if you want to use a bolt on IGH [ie. Alfine 8 or 11] you’ll need to stick with a 135mm dropout Fat Bike
  • so your options for an Alfine’d Fat Bike without using a chain tensioner are Surly’s which use 135mm horizontal dropouts
  • you can use an Alfine in a 135mm 9:zero:7 frame with a tensioner

Taken together I don’t think a 170mm wide fatbike and an IGH make much sense. You lose so much of the benefits and there are so many hassles unknowns that if you really want an IGH in a fatbike you should stick to a 135mm offset build.





Pugsley Redux – Part 1

27 10 2011

How she looks now...

How she looked new...

When things get this rusty it's time for some love...

We've had a lot of fun, but a price has been paid!

Crunchy?

Steel is real, but rust never sleeps!

Ouch...=-(

Yup...flatness....

Stripped down and cleaned a bit...

Apparently just in time...

Loaded up for the trip to the powder coaters...





Surly Cross Check Nexus 8 Shifter Update

29 06 2011

Sharon checking out the new control setup...

Sharon has really been enjoying the Titec H-bars on her Surly Cross Check daily commuter. The only point of dissatisfaction was the Nexus 8 twist-shifter took up too much room on the bar necessitating a hacked Ergon Grip that was too short to be comfortable. The solution was either a Jeff Jones Loop H-bar [with a longer grip area] for $120+ shipping or a Alfine 8 speed trigger shifter for ~$50. In the interests of cost we went with the later.

The problem is that hacked right Ergon Grip...

The comfort issue is pretty obvious looking at the photo above.

The new setup with Alfine 8 trigger shifter and a decent sized Ergon Grip...

Swapping out the Nexus 8 twist shifter was a breeze. I love how easy the Shimano IGHs are to work on…=-) I still had to hack a small bit off a stock Ergon Grip to make it fit, but this time that left a reasonable amount of hand space on the grip and a smooth transition to the controls.

Sharon tries the new grip/control setup...

Sharon’s initial reaction was positive to the new configuration. I’ll let her commute on it a few days and then we’ll tweak the position of the components as needed.

The blue beast ready for more commuter action...

Since I had the bike in my work stand I took the opportunity to check the brakes, chain tension and fenders. I lubed the chain and added some air to the rear tire. Because of the IGH and quality parts this bike sees daily use and doesn’t need much maintenance.

Sharon is really enjoying the Donkey Boxx and it’s performed solidly for her. She gets lots of positive comments on it and questions about how she built it…lol…she has to let people know it’s a manufactured product not a DIY project.

Sharon hearts her Bike Wrappers...

We have so much daylight at the moment in Canada that Sharon hasn’t had a chance to use the reflective side of her Bike Wrappers yet. However, she’s digging the heart print on the “fashion” side and would be happy with them even if they didn’t have a reflective option underneath.





Ode to the Surly Big Dummy

17 05 2011

Gett'n Surly with my Big Dummy...

A long load...

Heading to the LBS for some suspension maintenance...

Big Dummy Yukon touring…

Big Dummy surfing...

Loving the Dummy Life...

Getting loaded...

Torture testing the BD...

A loaded Big Dummy on tour...

Hauling a new bike for my friend Ursula...

Loading the Big Dummy....

Designed for versatility...

Here are links to Surly Big Dummy content I’ve posted online:

Off road Dummies...

Nice fender line on my BD...





The Un-Belt Drive…

10 05 2011

Hebie Chainglider...

The belt drive is the bicycle industry’s latest darling. I can’t blame anyone for that. They look slick and they are so high tech it catches everyone’s attention. The cycling press needs fuel and anything new that can be sold is fodder for that appetite. I haven’t seen a belt drive on a bike yet in the wild. I think they’ll eventually reach the same people that will spend $1.5K on a Rohloff – which is to say a few folks, but not that many. The hold up in my opinion will be the cost and the specialized frame that’s required. Unless you sell a ton of a particular component the cost can’t be reduced beyond a certain point. This is why you can get a car tire for less than the cost of a decent bike tire. It’s why a mid-grade derailleur drivetrain will always cost so little compared to any IGH setup. And it’s why a belt drive will always command a premium over a chain drive – all other things being equal.

The main advantages advanced for the belt drive are:

  • clean
  • low maintenance
  • silent
The main disadvantages most people agree on are:
  • high cost
  • requires special frame
  • requires precise chainline alignment
  • requires precise tension and fairly high tension
There have been some folks who had problems with their belt drives in snowy winter conditions like Doug from MN who went back to his chain drive setup for the winter. I’m not clear on what the service life of a belt and the associated cogs are yet, but I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Even if there are some issues initially the belt manufacturers will do their best to resolve them over the next few generations of products.

SRAM 8spd chain on my Pugsley...

My Pugsley sees the worst riding conditions of any of my bikes:

  • beach sand
  • salt water
  • corrosive playa dust at burning man
  • road salt & sand in Canadian winter
  • slush
  • desert sand/dust
So far my $16 SRAM 8spd chain has held up for years with no maintenance beyond 3 or 4 lubrications and adjusting the tension 2 or 3 times. It’s silent in operation. It doesn’t requires any expensive modifications to the frame. When I do need to replace the chain it will cost another $16 and last a bunch more years. The only real downside is the chain isn’t clean to the touch. However, neither is the bike [most of the time] I get around this problem by simply not touching the chain. Like most cyclists I find that  it’s not very hard to keep one’s clothes clean while riding with minimal effort. The other thing to think about is the belt and front cog will be exposed to all the crap your wheels and tires will be exposed to. So in many areas that means they’ll get dirty even if it’s not from chain lube and you won’t want to wear light coloured pants with an unprotected belt.

Norco Corsa ST...

Now you might ask “….wouldn’t it be great if they made something that would let you run a low cost easy to work with chain, but kept your clothes clean?…” Happily they do. In the photo at the top of this post you see a Hebie Chainglider which seals your chain away from dirt and your clothes. A fully enclosed chain is essentially maintenance free – just ride the bike. If you wanted the clean clothes part without sealing off your chain completely you can get a partial chain guard like you see in the photo above. This doesn’t keep the chain perfectly clean, but it does keep you clean and frankly a chain on an IGH will keep turning around for a very very long time before it needs any attention. The nice thing with a partial chain guard is it can be used with a rear derailleur for a very low cost drivetrain.

Chain guard and derailleur...

So is there a slam dunk reason to buy a belt drive bike? For most people I would say no. If you want low maintenance just get an IGH and you are good. If you want to stay clean add a chaincase or chain guard to your ride. A couple applications where I can see the benefit of a belt drive over a chain would be for folks that travel with their bikes that pack/unpack their rides frequently and folding bikes that don’t put the chain on the inside of the fold.

Ultimately I think the lack of market penetration from belt drives won’t be because they aren’t great. It will be because chains just work so well for the cost that they are nearly impossible to displace.





The right Rohloff for your Big Dummy?

7 05 2011

A Big Dummy love a Rohloff!

This is is a repost from an old blog. I figured it would be useful to have here in case someone was searching for Surly Big Dummy Rohloff information.

One problem with buying a Rohloff hub is that there are a TON of options to navigate if you want to get the right hub. In this post I’ll run through the options to let you know what works and what I chose.

Colour:

  • available in red, black and silver
  • the anodized cases [black and red] should withstand salt and other elements a bit better than the polished aluminum case
  • cases are now laser engraved. If you see one with a sticker on the hub it is older stock.
  • I chose black for the stealth Big Dummy look
Axle:
Internal or External Gear Mechanism:
  • the external gear mechanism is a box that attaches to your hub and your cables terminate there
  • this means you can easily detach it for removing the rear wheel
  • cables are run fully covered to the external gear mechanism so they are immune to the elements
  • it is easier to field service the external gear mechanism
  • the trade off is the shifting is slightly less smooth
  • you cannot use disc brakes with the internal gear mechanism
  • I went with the external gear mechanism for the ease of maintenance and so I could use disc brakes.
Disc Brakes:
  • you will need to use the external gear mechanism
  • you will need to specify disc brake use when ordering your hub
  • you will need a Rohloff specific disc rotor
  • you can use a Rohloff disc hub on a rim brake bike as long as you use a rim with a braking surface
  • I went this route as I wanted to use Avid BB7 disc brakes on my Big Dummy
Torque Support:
  • without any torque support the hub will want to spin and will not drive the bike forward
  • you can get a Rohloff with the following torque support options:
  • you need to be sure you get the OEM2 axle plate
Accessories you’ll need:
  • chain tensioner – you’ll need this as the Big Dummy has vertical drop outs. Keep in mind there is a standard and DH version. You want the standard version.
  • Tandem length cables – due to the length of the Big Dummy you’ll need the longer tandem length cables.
  • Rohloff specific disc rotor – you cannot use the rotor supplied with your brakes as it will have the wrong bolt pattern.
Accessories you may want:
  • chain guide – keeps your chain on the front ring
  • oil change kit – you’ll need one of these every 5,000kms so it migt be easiest to buy one or two when you get your hub.
  • Sprockets -all hubs come with a 16T sprocket. You can also get 13T, 15T & 17T sprockets.
Non-Rohloff specific parts you’ll need:
  • 38T or larger front chain ring that will fit on the outside of your cranks – same position as big chain ring on a MTB triple. You want a ~54mmm chain line. This chain ring does not need to be pinned and ramped. You’ll be able to flip it around and use the other side when it wears out.
  • 2 chains – you’ll only use 1 and a bit, but you can save the extra portion and use it dnotw h road. You’ll also be able to flip your chain and rear cog around when things start to wear out and get more miles out of your drive train. I bought two 8 speed SRAM chains as they were cheap.
Rohloff Part Numbers

To make your life easier here are the part numbers you can use to ensure you are getting exactly what you need when you order your Rohloff hub:

  • Silver disc brake CC External Gear Mech OEM hub [specify OEM2] – #8025
  • Red disc brake CC External Gear Mech OEM hub [specify OEM2] – #8026
  • Black disc brake CC External Gear Mech OEM hub [specify OEM2] – #8027
  • Axle plate OEM2 [if you forgot to ask for it like I did and got an OEM hub] – #8227
  • Tandem Length cables – #8267
  • Chain Guide – #8290
  • Avid/Shimano 160mm disc rotor – #8281S
  • Hayes 160mm disc rotor – #8281H
  • Magura 160mm disc rotor – #8280
  • Oil Change Kit – #8410
  • 13T Sprocket – #8219
  • 15T Sprocket – #8220
  • 16T Sprocket – #8221
  • 17T Sprocket – #8222




Sharon’s Cross Check Redux…

3 05 2011

Sharon's Cross Check with Titec H-bars...

Update: Sharon really likes the Titec H-bars – especially the forward aero position. Although she found out the hard way that unlike drop bars the H-bars don’t have brakes close at hand when you are all stretched out and hammering. After nearly blasting through an intended stop she’ll get out of the aero tuck next time and be ready to squeeze some brake.

On a funny note she was stopped by a fellow cycle commuter at the hospital she works at and asked if she was a randonneur. When she said no and asked why they thought she was the other cyclist responded that her bike looks like something a randonneur would ride. We had a laugh about that!…=-)

I posted a bunch of photos on my Bow Cycle Blog about upgrades to Sharon’s Surly Cross Check commuter rig. The biggest issue she was having was some discomfort in her hands. We tweaked the drop bar position and double wrapped it for extra padding, but she wasn’t happy with the result so I swapped in a Titec H-bar for a more upright MTB position that she is used to while still providing some lower/more forward hand positions to battle a head wind.

Sharon heading out on her first commute with the new bars...





Surly Pugsley To Do List…

29 04 2011

I love a fatty!

My Surly LHT upgrade is still on going, but I’m waiting on rust proofing to arrive so I’ve started to look ahead to the next bike that needs love. It was a toss up between the Pugsley and the Big Dummy. The Pug needs more love, but the BD sees more action. In the end I went with the Pugsley because I feel guilty about how rusty she is.

Here is my plan:

  • totally strip frame including pulling headset
  • sand exterior rust
  • power coat frame [not sure what colour???]
  • rust proof interior of frame
  • clean wheels
  • pull Endomorph tires and install Larry tires
  • clean and inspect cog & chain ring [most likely reuse both]
  • reinstall components
  • install new chain
  • use new cables and fresh housing
  • install Jones Loop H-Bars

Kurt adjusting his Pugsley...