The problem with perfection…

6 04 2011

My awesome LHT...=-)

I try out a lot of bikes and a lot of gear. That’s fun and I enjoy tinkering with different setups. It’s taught me a lot that I couldn’t have learned any other way, but it does have one downside – perfection. Now you’d think having a perfect bike would be great and in terms of riding it that’s true – where I get into trouble is once a bike is perfect or close to it I don’t want to mess with it. One perfect bike wouldn’t be an issue, but I’m starting to collect quite a few of them and that’s getting in the way of my tinkering!

Now I could sell them, but every time I did that [ie. Challenge Fujin SL] I regret it. Not only because I can’t ride that bike any more, but also because perfection was usually expensive and doing the same thing twice is harder to justify.

You could also say just keep ’em all. Sound advice in theory, but I am at the point with bikes, boards and gear that unless I get a 2 car garage I am at my limit for bikes. As it is two bikes live outside **gasp!** and our tandem lives in the dining room!

As a stop gap measure I am calling 2011 the year of the upgrade so I’ll focus on working on existing bikes rather than getting new ones – although one new one slipped in and I traded a single bike for a tandem. This is working, but it has it’s limits. Once I add the hammered fenders & dynohub + light to my LHT there won’t be a lot left to do as it will be freaking amazingly perfect…=-)

Here’s a rundown of my bikes that are perfect or near perfect:

  • Surly LHT
  • Surly Big Dummy
  • Surly Pugsely
  • Santa Cruz Nomad
  • Bike Friday Tikit
  • Bike Friday NWT

I’m not dissing my Bike Friday Tandem Traveller or my Boulder Bicycle All Road, but they are too new to get perfect status. They must prove themselves on the road and maybe next year they’ll be worthy!

For upgrades I’ve got the following projects on the go:

  • dyno hub & light for LHT
  • hammered VO fenders for LHT
  • put super hard B17 on LHT to break it in
  • put Jone loop H-bars on Big Dummy
  • put dynohub wheel in Big Dummy and mount light
  • put PR rack and Ortlieb O bag on Tikit

I’ve also got an Alfine 11 I need to build into a wheel and try out, but so far I haven’t decided which bike to use it on. If I could get a JTek bar end shifter for it I’d have a lot of options, but so far that’s not available.


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23 responses

6 04 2011
Micheal Blue

Vik, get a plasma cutter, a welder, and then cut and combine the perfected bikes to create one unique super-perfect rig. Now that’s a project.

6 04 2011
adventure!

Vik, I feel ya on this one. I don’t have as many bikes as you (yet), but it’s hard for me to stop doing stuff to bikes. And when I’ve reached that magical level of “the bike is finished”, I move on and end up selling it. And the problem with selling is you’ll never get back all the $$ you put into it. I sold a Univega last year to make room for other bikes. Now the basic frame was nothing special–a mid-grade bike-boom road frame (in great shape, though). But it was my “modernized three speed” and had handbuilt front and rear wheels, a S-A AW hub, and a giant Wald basket. I sold it for $175, and I spent more than that on the wheels alone!

6 04 2011
Dolan Halbrook

Seems like the Tandem Traveler would be a great recipient for that Alfine 11. Indeed I’m mulling whether or not to make that change to mine (eventually) or just go the less expensive dual drive route and reuse most of the existing 8sp der setup.

6 04 2011
thelazyrando

@Dolan – there is, currently, no bar end shifter for the Alfine 11, although hopefully JTEK will release one this year, until that happens the Alfine 11 can only go on a flat bar bike of which I have only a few to choose from and 2 of them have Rohloffs at present – hence my dilema!

6 04 2011
alang

sounds like the pugs would be a decent candidate for the 11. i plan on upgrading mine someday. also throw on the larry or larrys, and use lighter rims. that’s my strategy, anyway.

6 04 2011
thelazyrando

@Alan – the Pugs could use the Alfine 11, but it has an Alfine 8 that’s in the correct rim so why bother building another speciality wheel I can’t use on another bike.

I’m hoping JTek comes to my rescue with a bar end shifter that way I can just decide between 700c and 26″ then the wheel can be used on multiple bikes.

I’m getting the LHT’s dynohub wheel built at the moment so I won’t get to the Alfine until late April/early May. I’m trying to keep my bike costs in check and tackling a project or two each month.

6 04 2011
alang

sounds like you could stand to get into some more bikepacking! pick up a 29er, get some framebags going and dial in your UL setup…

6 04 2011
thelazyrando

The Pugsely is my 29er bike packing rig and I’ve got all the bags for it. My buddy Scott [Porcelain Rocket Bags] is moving to Victoria in the fall. I have promised to get him out on brevets and I’m sure he’ll push a Pugsley bike packing agenda to test out his bag designs!

If I was going to get a new bike I might go for something like the VO Poly and build up a 650B porteur rig with the Alfine 11. So far the fact they are out of stock in my size for the rest of 2011 is keeping my VISA safe!…=-)

http://store.velo-orange.com/index.php/frames/polyvalent/polyvalent-55.html

6 04 2011
Dolan Halbrook

K – my bad. I thought there was a twist shifter as well as a trigger shifter. Shame on Shimano for such limited options.

6 04 2011
Dolan Halbrook

If you’re thinking 650b you might want to have a look at the Rawland frames. Much nicer than the VO frame IMHO.

6 04 2011
alang

awesome. i like Scott’s work! to save some bread and have some fun, i have taken up sewing and worked up a bag for my pugs last summer. this summer, i hope to have bags for my cross check and dummy as well…

i took my pugs out bikepacking for a few days last summer. it was super fun (think you have seen my flickr set here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/40010668@N06/sets/72157624566016935/)

we averaged about 70mi per day, but i would like to push that up to 100mi and have some more fun whipping around on the singetrack, hence my 29er goal. i borrowed my neighbors 29er and it is a world of difference with the pugs, as you might imagine – but also a harsher ride, wondering if that is because of the stiff fisher alloy frame. looking forward to trying a steel frame and getting my own niner going as a dedicated bikepacker.

6 04 2011
thelazyrando

No 29er will ride as smooth as a Pug with 4″ wide tires.

6 04 2011
thelazyrando

@Dolan – the VO Poly is ~$400 and has the fender clearances sorted for proper fender installation. When I looked at the Rawland site they seemed to have messed up the fender mounting points [not at a constant radius from tire] – probably to allow for a wide range of tire sizes. I also assume they’d cost more than double what the Poly costs.

I have an expensive 650B bike so if I were to build a PR it would need to be on the lower cost side of things. I have the Alfine 11 and can scrounge a bunch of parts so I’d just need the frame/fork and rims probably.

6 04 2011
Dolan Halbrook

Which frameset were you looking at (rSogn, Drakkar?). Yes, they’re more expensive, but they more like 1.5x the Poly’s price (~$600), not double, and I’m guessing they’re a fair bit nicer as well, both in tubing choice as well as overall finish. Either way they’re still well below what your Boulder cost.

As for fender clearance, you’d have to take that up with Sean. I’m fine with it on my Drakkar (650b or 700c), and I honestly haven’t checked in out on the rSogn (650b only).

6 04 2011
Vik

@Dolan – I think the frame I looked at was a RSogn…$600 puts them in Surly territory which surprises me.

There isn’t really anything to take with Sean…you can only optimize a frame for one tire size…in my case 650B x 42mm…if you build a frame that is supposed to work with a variety of tire sizes you can’t do any better than make it acceptable with a single size since it must be capable of a wider range of tires.

If you intend to run many different tires on a bike the trade off may be worth it.

I’ll keep an eye on the Rawlands site. They don’t have a lot of stock so it may be a question of just waiting to see what comes available and what works best with my choice of wheel size, tire and racks.

7 04 2011
thelazyrando

@Dolan – just saw your Drakkar on EcoVelo. With the long horizontal dropouts and metal fenders how do you deal with removing the rear wheel? Do you have to remove/loosen the rear fender mounting bolts?

Do you have more photos online? I’d like to see close ups of the fender install and the tire/fender/fork/frame clearance.

What size wheel/tire are you using?

7 04 2011
Dolan Halbrook

Removing the rear wheel is a bit of a PITA — it’s one of the compromises I made to accomodate the Rohloff. Now that the PhilCentric BB exists I prob would have chosen that route instead instead of horizontal dropouts.

Yes, I have to loosen the rear fender mounts and slide them out completely. It’s not really all that difficult with the Honjo clips, but not exactly fun either. Luckily (touch wood) the Marathon Supremes have so far done an excellent job of keeping me from having to remove the rear wheel (~3 flats in as many years). My bike is 700c (with a 32c tire) but with 650b it might be less of an issue. Hard to say.

Let me see if I can snap some closeups today and get them somewhere for you to have a look.

7 04 2011
Dolan Halbrook

Let me know if these work for you:

http://tinypic.com/r/2yw7ouu/7
http://tinypic.com/r/29onbs8/7
http://tinypic.com/r/2q059xd/7
http://tinypic.com/r/107upe1/7

That should cover the fender clearance.

7 04 2011
Dolan Halbrook

Also, not sure if it’s your size, but the price is right:

http://groups.google.com/group/rcog/browse_thread/thread/8965ad16c85b073c

9 04 2011
Carlos Hoyt

@Vik – How does the ride on your LHT compare to you new Boulder All-Rounder? I currently have an LHT, which I really enjoy but was looking for a lower trail, lighter bike to augment it. Based on the BQ article I was considering a Boulder Bike and then saw you had gone that route. Any comparisons between the two would be appreciated.

10 04 2011
thelazyrando

@Carlos – there is no comparison between the LHT and the BB All Road. The All Road uses the smallest diameter thinest tubes possible for my weight/size – it’s quite flexible. I don’t flex the LHT at all. The All Road handles with low trail point and shoot precision. It feels broken at first when you come from decades of high trail geometry, but after a couple days you realize your old bikes were broken! It’s fun to round a sweeping high speed turn on the All Road on a constant radius – something that’s not possible on the LHT as the steering over corrects and you end up riding a line that is essentially a series of corrections through the turn.

Mike Kone at BB is a great guy to work with who is dedicated to making you happy. My only suggestion is to listen to him and do what he says. The only areas of my All Road I am not 100% happy with are things that I asked for specifically rather than following Mike’s lead. Not big deals, but it would have been better to listen to him.

I’d happily buy another BB. Considering the design, manufacturing quality and support you get they are an excellent value.

11 04 2011
BCFid

Hi Vik,

I presume that you’re already aware of it but the fine folks at Versa have a brifte for Shimano’s SG-S700 11spd IGH.
http://www.sussex.com.tw/versa.html
Its enough to make a guy want to drop some cash on a Gates carbon belt-drive Norco Vesta and an 11spd IGH hub.
Hubba hubba!
B.

11 04 2011
thelazyrando

@BCfid – no I didn’t know that. I’m not a huge fan of brifters, but at the moment it’s the only drop bar option I’m aware of for the Alfine 11. I can’t seem to see just a set of the brifters on their US/Canadian distributors site. I wonder of you can get them separately? I’m not really interested in a belt drive bike. JTEK will be coming out with an Alfine 11 bar end shifter, but it could be many months yet until it’s ready for production.

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