Urban Adventures…

5 03 2013
The Selkirk Trestle...

The Selkirk Trestle…

Being banged up means I have to give the dirt a miss for a while, but it’s not so bad when you have a road bike you like to ride.

Ducks were MIA from the pond...

Ducks were MIA from the pond…

Luckily Victoria in winter offers some great urban riding options. Not only is the scenery nice, but there is excellent coffee along most routes… ūüôā

Urban art...

Urban art…

We got caffeinated, did our errands and got some riding done. Another good day in the books.

Sharon looking Surly...

Sharon looking Surly…

New Look…

26 02 2013
Gratuitous LHT porn...

Gratuitous LHT porn…

Update: looks like the old theme Freshly is working again so back we go.

The old blog theme on WordPress went all wonky on me so I grabbed a new one. I’m not sure this one will stick, but it’s working for now. My main complaint is that posts containing just a Vimeo or Youtube video don’t show any visual preview on the main page of the blog. So you have to click through to the post to see them – not ideal.

If anyone has any cunning ideas how to fix that let me know. I like the rest of the Oxygen Theme. ūüôā

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! ūüėČ

Just couldn’t do it…

12 07 2012

My Surly LHT…

My garage is pretty cluttered with gear. The worst offenders are the bikes loitering in there. ūüėČ For various reasons I’m not ready to sell any bikes at the moment, but I did have what seemed like a cunning plan to pull out 2 bikes and put them into medium/long-term storage eslewhere. One of those bikes was my 700c Surly LHT. My thought was to strip it down of parts which would either get reused or put into my spares bin. The frame would be stored for the foreseeable future. To be revived at a later date when I had a need for it and the original LHT would be an even more classic bike to ride. In the meantime I’d just ride the 26″ wheeled LHT as I was keen to keep testing out that wheel size.

Tweaked LHT cockpit…

I hauled the 700c LHT from where it was hanging in the garage and clamped it into my repair stand for the tear down. Not surprisingly I procrastinated for a while. It’s summer so there are lots of things on the go eating up my free time. At some point I realized I had time to work on the LHT, but was just not happy about taking it apart. Not only it is my oldest bike with which I have had some great cycling memories, but it’s setup really well other than the cockpit that needed tweaking. I think if it was all beat up and in need of a major overhaul the process would have been easier.

A closer look at the cockpit…

I was fine with keeping the LHT in service, but if I was going to do that I had to get the saddle & bars adjusted so I was comfortable on the bike again. I can’t explain how my preferred riding position changed so much, but it did. I ended up raising the saddle a touch and dropping the bars 1.5″ which also moved them forward 0.5″. I rotated the bars forward a bit and moved the brake levers forward on the drops. It’s actually a pretty radical adjustment given that the LHT’s previous setup had worked for me for many years.

What’s important is that when I climb aboard this bike now my body immediately feels at home. I’m not going to cut the steerer tube until I’ve ridden the bike a while just to be sure I am confident of the change.

Loving my other Long Haul Trucker…

21 04 2012

Click on image for more info on custom Buddy Flaps for your fenders...

I recently posted that I was not loving my oldest bike a 700c Surly LHT. Having just installed some Retroshift brake levers on my 26″ wheeled Long Haul Trucker it has seen a bunch of saddle time and I must say I love it. The saddle, pedals and bars are exactly where I want them and the big balloon tires roll along like I’m on cloud. I’ll eventually take some measurements of the cockpit so I can adjust my 700c LHT to the same fit, but for now I’ll just ride the fat tire trucker and smile.

Profile shot...

This LHT is setup with:

  • Schwalbe 2.15″ Big Apple tires
  • Velo Orange fenders with some sweet Buddy Flaps
  • Old Man Mountain Sherpa rack [new version]
  • Velo Orange double crank
  • XTR derailleurs and MTB cassette
  • Shimano bar end shifters mounted on Retroshift levers
  • Tektro 720 canti brakes
  • Brooks B17
  • Velo Orange stem & bell
  • Salsa drop bars
  • franken wheels I pulled out of the garage of which we shall not speak!

Protected light placement...

If you read this blog regularly you’ll know that my preference for bike tires has slowly move towards wider and wider rubber over the years. There was a time where I had a road bike on 23mm rubber and a city MTB on 25mm rubber. Today I wouldn’t ride those same bikes if you offered them to me for free! My performance road bike runs on 42mm wide rubber for example – yet it’s fast and comfortable enough to hammer out a 300K even with my pathetic engine.

So it’s not shocking to me that I am enjoying the 55mm rubber on this LHT more than the ~35mm rubber on the 700c LHT. For urban environments as well as the gravel/dirt around Victoria big fat rubber makes life better. There is no real downside at a utility ride pace to this big rubber and there are wide performance rubber options [26 x 2.0″ Schwalbe Kojaks] if I wanted to improve the speed/range of this bike.

Those are some Big Apples...

Ideally I’d like to see 650B wheels and Grand Bois Hetres on this bike as I love how they feel, but I’ve got a limited bike budget so replacing some perfectly good wheels/tires isn’t a top priority. I’ve got some nice shiny Velo Orange 650B rims hanging in my garage so I’ll keep my eyes open for a deal on some disc hubs. That way when I do have a 650B wheel set I’ll be able to use it with both rim brakes and disc brakes.

Old Man Mountain - that's how I roll!

Retroshift Install and Initial Review

20 04 2012

Retroshift brake lever w/ Shimano bar end shifter...


Retroshift Two brake levers are simple to install. Just slide the mounting bracket onto the bar. Move into position. Lightly bolt lever on and fine tune your lever position then tighten. Once you get the levers onto the bars your bar end shifters just bolt on. Retroshift provides a few small washers to take out any play that you may experience depending on the levers you are using.

My 26" wheeled LHT - Black Beauty...

The cable routing is a bit funky, but I actually like how it looks and it’s less in the way of a bar bag than my usual bar end shifter cable routing.

The whole installation process is painless. I thought it was weird that Retroshift didn’t provide a step by step set of installation instructions, but it really is so simple that you don’t need any.

Keeping the cables neat...

On The Road

  • The bar end shifters mounted to the Retroshift levers fall to hand very easily.
  • Shifting is fast and positive. The position of the levers tells you what gear you are in by feel.
  • You can dump multiple gears on the rear with a swipe of your hand.
  • The shifters don’t interfere with braking from the hoods or the drops.
  • You can only shift from the hoods so if you are on the drops you have to move your hand.
  • Due to the shift mount you can’t use the cable release feature at the lever to generate extra cable slack.
  • The ergonomics are not as refined as brifters, but it’s way easy to dump a lot of gears or operate Retoshift bar cons with heavy gloves on.
  • Using bar end shifters the front derailleur is always in friction mode and the rear derailleur can be run in indexed or friction modes. That means it will keep shifting in challenging environments.
  • Current version will work with road bike specific mechanical disc brakes, but not MTB disc brakes.

Another look...

I like Shimano bar end shifters. I’ve used them mounted on the ends of drop bars and on flat bars using Paul Thumbies. Retroshift levers just give you a 3rd option for a mounting location. Which one you would prefer is simply a matter of taste.

I spend a lot of time with my hands just behind the hoods on drop bar bikes so I am used to moving my hands to brake or shift. I’m also not an uber frequent shifter so this doesn’t present a problem for me. In fact I find moving my hands to brake and shift is helpful to prevent circulation related problems on long rides. I don’t race so I don’t need a dozen lightening fast shifts each minute.

More cable routing porn...

What about Brifters?

I’ve used several sets of integrated brake & shift levers that came OEM on my bikes. They work fine when they are clean. I don’t want to mess with them for any challenging applications like bike touring and I would never pay the retail cost for a set if I was building up a frame. I’d rather go the Retroshift route myself or stick with bar end shifters.

Tektro 720 cantilever brakes...

The Downsides

  • need to buy new brake levers
  • current version not compatible with v-brakes/MTB mechanical discs [a compatible version being released later in 2012]
  • can’t shift from drops
  • looks a bit unusual

Some fresh bar tape...

You can read my initial impressions of the Retroshift levers when they were unpacked here.

What happened to my Long Haul Trucker?

11 04 2012

My Surly LHT with the Selkirk Trestle in the background...

I’ve been out of town a lot so far this year and have mostly been riding my MTBs and Bike Friday Tikit when I am home. So the other night I grabbed my oldest bike and jumped on it for a ride into town to meet a friend. My sage green LHT has been one of those bikes I’ve used to size other bikes I was buying because it fit so well and it was definitely in that category of “bikes I would never get rid of”. So it came as a huge shock that I was both uncomfortable on my LHT and didn’t enjoy how she felt to ride…=-(

Now logically I know our bodies and our preferences change, but emotionally I was just so totally unprepared to not be smiling as I pedalled this bike into Victoria.

Some of the issues are reasonably easy to fix. I need to move the saddle to get my butt/knees and BB into the position that’s comfortable and efficient. Then I may or may not have to swap in a different stem to get the bars positioned where I want them and I definitely will need to rotate the bars and reposition the brake levers. This is a bit of a pain, but nothing overly challenging. Give me a warm sunny afternoon and 3 beers! =-)

I wasn’t loving the skinny 35mm Marathon XR touring tires either which is also a shock as these have been one of my favourite for a long long time. Tires are easily replaced so other than feeling bad for not enjoying an old friend’s company I can get over this issue. Now I know 35mm isn’t skinny for a road tire, but keep in mind my MTBs run on 2.4″-3.7″ tires and my go fast road bike runs on 42mm tires – plus the XRs measure a bit on the narrow side so they aren’t a true 35mm width.

I actually came home after the ride in question and said to myself “I could sell this bike and be fine about it.”

Now I’m fortunate in that I have a 26″ wheeled LHT in my¬†work stand¬†getting Retroshift brake levers + bar end shifters installed. I just setup the bars/levers and saddle position to be comfortable/efficient so that’s not a problem and it’s running on Schwalbe Big Apple 2.15″ balloon tires. This should address all my concerns about my 700c LHT. I’m keen to get the 26″ LHT back on the road and ride both of them [after adjusting the 700c bike’s cockpit]. A always assumed the 26″ wheeled LHT would be a bike I’d keep for 2-3yrs to compare wheel sizes after which I’d sell it, but now I’m really not sure which LHT will get sold.

If I do end up keeping the 26″ wheeled LHT I may forge ahead with the 650B conversion I had been pondering and perhaps even get the fork re-raked to lower the trail. That seems to be where my bikey preferences are headed.

Life is always full of surprises!

Velo Orange 60mm Stainless Fenders 26″

7 11 2011

26" wheeled Surly LHT with VO fenders...

I’ve been riding and tweaking my 26″ wheeled Surly LHT project bike. ¬†One thing it definitely lacked was fenders. In my opinion fenders make a bike look finished and classy fenders take it to the next level of sexy. I had been waiting to make up my mind about which tires to stick with and what size wheels I was going to use. I started off with 26″ wheels and 2.15″ Schwalbe Big Apples. I have a lovely set of Velo Orange 650B rims in my office that was thinking about using on this bike and if not some narrower 1.5″ slick tires I also considered as possibilities. If money was no object at the moment I would likely have gone with the 650B wheels, but that would require new hubs and a custom wheel build plus new brakes as well as new levers. That’s a few too many $$$ for me to spend at the moment when the I have wheels that work. I’ve decided the monster truck feel of the Big Apples makes me pretty happy and I have a 700c LHT with 35mm tires if I want a more speedy flavour of Trucker.

I managed a decent rear fender line...

Fenders aren’t hard to install – especially a set of VO fenders, but I have to be in the right frame of mind to tackle this job. For whatever reason I was in the zone yesterday morning so I got down to business installing this 60mm VO stainless ATB fender set.

The black and silver looks pretty sharp...

Stainless fenders are a bit heavier than their aluminum brothers, but they make up for it by being very stiff and strong. This LHT isn’t about being a featherweight or even touring across the¬†continent. It’s about a practical, fun bike that’s ready to get stuff done around town.

Definitely needs a mudflap....

The Velo Orange fender kit comes with everything you need to install the fenders. It took me about 20mins/wheel once I got going. You can do it faster, but I recommend taking your time and checking twice at each step before you go on to the next.

Nice fender line and good coverage...

I do like a fender that follows the tire reasonably evenly. I don’t get too anal about this, but it’s worth spending an extra 5mins now for a great looking fender install you can enjoy for years.

Wide fenders for wide rubber...

The 60mm fender width is just enough for the ~54mm tires. Both the tires and the wide fenders give the 26″ wheeled LHT a purposeful look – kind of like an American muscle car. Both fenders will get a mudflap as soon as I decide what to use. I have a set of Buddy Flaps that I haven’t installed which are the likely candidates.

New bars...

I really liked the shape of the VO rando bars I started with on the LHT, but they were too narrow at the drops for my wide shoulders to be happy. Alix from Bike Mexico was complaining about her LHT’s drops and since she has narrow¬†shoulders¬†I gifted them to her so they would get to experience some Mexican adventures! Since I had a spare set of no name drop bars on my shelf I decided to use them for now until it makes sense to upgrade.

Downtube porn...

The other thing I wanted to change was my shifting setup. The downtube friction shifter isn’t making me happy with a cassette designed for indexed shifting. Unless I get the shifting position perfect the ramps and pins on the¬†cassette¬†try and “help” me by shifting the chain up or down to the next cog. I’ve got 3 options:

  1. swap in a 9spd indexed bar end shifter
  2. swap in a 9spd indexed downtube shifter
  3. get a 7 or 8 spd cassette without pins & ramps for better friction shifting

I’m not 100% sure which way I’ll go yet – probably whatever falls to hand easiest.

Surly Disc Trucker…

8 10 2011

Got discs?

I’m not in need of disc brakes on my LHT, but I know there are folks out there who can’t live without ’em. Well breathe easy Surly’s got your back and is coming out with disc brake equipped LHT’s in both 26″ & 700c wheel sizes.

Rear disc caliper inside the rear triangle...

The rear disc caliper is inside the rear triangle to allow simplified mounting of standard rear racks and fenders.

Spare spokes have been moved to the left seat stay...

I do like the dark green colour – very nice…=-)

Trucker porn...

Click on any of these photos to jump to the Surly Disc Trucker product page.

Two for the road…

27 08 2011

Art at sunset...

It was my last day in town for a month and I was very busy taking care of errands before I fly out to Ontario. However, for the sake of my mental health I got out for two rides today as I will be bike-less out east…=-(


I rode my fat tire 26″ wheeled Surly LHT both times because it makes me smile…=-)

When I get back at the end of September summer will be over and it will be time to install fenders on the Fat Trucker.

Wow lots of new stuff from Surly for 2012!

26 08 2011

Surly Orge 29er...

If you are a Surly fan jump over to their blog and check out the new 2012 products. There are a lot of them including a disc brake LHT and new even fatter tire [4.5″ vs. 3.7″] fat tire bike…=-)

BTW – to answer the inevitable questions I have no plans to buy any of these new products so unless the Blog Fairy drops them off at my door I won’t be making any major additions to the fleet in 2012.

Surly 26″ Wheeled LHT Inital Impressions…

12 08 2011

Time to ride...

Although my 26″ wheeled Surly LHT build project is not finished I’ve done enough wrenching so I wanted to taste the fruits of my labours and see what I thought so far. I’ll just touch on a few topics in this post.

On my way to get some groceries...

26″ wheels and 2.15″ Schwalbe Big Apples

  • big rubber lots well proportioned for the 58cm LHT
  • it rolls well over a variety of surfaces
  • rewards a moderate steady effort, but doesn’t want to ride crazy fast
  • tires are heavy as is rear wheel
I’m enjoying the monster truck vibe of the current wheelset/tires. They aren’t performance orientated, but they do roll just fine at a moderate cruising pace. The beauty is that they just keep rolling and rolling and rolling no matter what get’s in the way. Yesterday I was run off a narrow paved road onto a bumpy dirt shoulder and then slammed into and off of a square concrete curb scoring some air before landing back on the road. On my 700c LHT with 35mm rubber that would have likely resulted in a crash and/or some wheel damage. With 55mm of soft rubber underneath my 26″ wheeled LHT I didn’t even bother touching the brakes as I knew the bike would handle the sudden obstacles without drama. For 5km-15km around town utility/transportation riding missions these wheels are a blast. If I was going to run this setup 24/7 I would invest in a higher uqlaity rear wheel to lose some of the unneeded weight back there. I’d also invest in the liteskin¬†version¬†of the Schwale Big Apple for a faster rolling balloon tire.

Lovely Velo Orange water bottle cages...

650B & Grand Bois Hetres
  • fast and comfy
  • I love this setup on my rando bike
  • would provide a spare wheelset if my primary wheels on my rando bike fail
  • not nearly as plush as 55mm Big Apples, but much faster
I have some 650B Velo Orange rims leaning against my garage wall waiting for some love and a spare set of Grand Bois Hetres 650b x 40mm tires that I could use on them. I love these tires on my rando bike and having a second 650B wheel set in operation means I have a spare should my primary wheels fail before a ride or even to take with me to a big event as a spare emergency set. The downside is the don’t exist yet so I have to spend a far bit of $$$ [new hubs, spokes, wheel build & new¬†brakes+ levers] to make them happen and they won’t be nearly as plush as 55mm tires.
To be honest both options have a lot of merit and maybe in the long run I’ll do both. For now I’ll ride the 26″ wheels I have and give it some more thought. I’m enjoying the monster truck vibe well enough at the moment….=-)

Velo Orange stem mounted bell...

Velo Orange Rando Bars

I’ve really enjoyed the shape of these VO Rando bars. The complex curves all seem to fall to hand very naturally and make my hands happy. I ended up with a fairly narrow set [37cm at the brake levers – 44cm at the¬†flared¬†ends]. I need closer to 42cm at the brake levers so I’m going to have to swap these out for a wider set. VO makes a set that are 48cm at the flared ends which will likely be perfect for me. Speaking of the flared ends it’s nice to be able to have both a narrower position on the hoods/in the drops and a wider more stable position further back towards the ends of the bars. The VO stem and headset mesh well with the bars and the LHT. They provide a classy modern look. No issues with any of these items so far – although it’s early in the game.

Velo Orange Bell & Bottle Cages

I use a¬†similar¬†setup on my rando bike and they are very nice to use. The bell is attractive and stays out of the way until you need it. The sound is¬†pleasant¬†and isn’t overly jaring which makes for friendlier encounters with other bikers and peds. The bottle cages are light and grip a bottle securely even on bumpy roads.

The elusive Acorn Roll Bag...

Acorn Roll Bag

My online buddy Gary helped me score this Acorn Roll Bag [thanks Gary!…=-)] I’ll use it on this LHT and my rando bike depending on what’s going on at the time. The Acorn bag will get a full write up later in the year.

VO elk hide chain stay protector...

VO Chainstay Protector

The VO chainstay protector looks nice on the bike and keeps the chain off the chainstay. I have one on my rando bike as well and so far it’s worked well.

Ortlieb panniers on an OMM Sherpa rear rack...

Ortlieb Bags on OMM Rack

Ortlieb bags and OMM racks are my go to solution for carrying gear on most of my bikes. They’ve served me well for a decade plus. You can’t go wrong with them.

Bike Wrappers...

Bike Wrappers

I put a set of Bike Wrappers on my black 58cm LHT. They fit on the bike without issues although they don’t cover as much real estate on this big frame as they do on Sharon’s Cross Check. Sharon has been complaining about her commuter MTB’s ugliness and since she is forced to ride it until her Cross Check is back in action I think I’ll move these Bike Wrappers to her current commuter to make it a bit easier on the eyes. I haven’t tested the visual safety aspects of this product yet [the dark times they are¬†coming!…=-)], but they do provide an easy and very fast way to change the look of your ride if you want a different feel without¬†committing¬†to the $$$/effort of a repaint.

Might as well get rid of some recycling...

Downtube Friction Shifting

So far the 9 speed drivetrain has worked well. I’m fine with the limited gear range for my utility riding around town. The shifter falls to hand well enough and I like the¬†simplicity¬†of this setup. Using a friction shifter with a cassette designed for indexed shifting isn’t ideal as any offset from a narrow optimal cable position results is ghost shifting under power. I don’t shift like mad so it’s only a minor hassle to tweak each shift to get the right derailleur position. I’m going to keep the shifter on the downtube so in the long run I will either get an indexed downtube shifter or a cassette that isn’t ramped and pinned for index shifting. I’m not in a rush to make a change on this.

VO Crankset

I’m only using the smaller ring of this double crankset. I can manually shift to the larger ring if I need to. Despite a long BB spindle these cranks have a very low Q-factor. I’m not overly¬†sensitive¬†to a variation in Q-factor so this is not terribly important to me. I haven’t noticed any flex in the long BB spindle, but I’m a fairly weak rider so that’s not shocking. Not much to say about these bad boys – I turn my feet, the chain goes round and my Trucker trucks…=-)

LHT 26‚Ä≥ Wheeled Build PT8‚Ķ

3 08 2011

She's rolling...=-)

Where we are at:

  • got rear derailleur cabled
  • Black Brooks B17 saddle
  • OMM Sherpa [new version]
She’s finally rolling which is sweet. Fenders and front rack are still missing, but I hope to get that sorted in the next week or so. I’ll me roaming the streets of Victoria with these big fat tires enjoying a different side of the Surly Long Haul Trucker…=-)

LHT 26‚Ä≥ Wheeled Build PT7‚Ķ

14 07 2011

I've made some progress!..=-)

The 26″ wheeled Surly LHT project is moving along nicely! I got a bunch of stuff taken care of now that the weather has been a bit grim and work hasn’t been full on.

The drivetrain is installed...

I got a SRAM 9 speed chain installed and pedalled the bike down the block like this to finally get a feel for what she’s like. The big soft tires are fun and it feels like the offspring of a mountain bike and touring bike…=-)

Backend bling!

I don’t normally roll with XTR bling on my bikes, but I found this derailleur in my spares bin and it’s in good shape so on it went!

Crank clearance...

I swapped in a 122mm square taper crank and got the necessary clearance with the chainstay on both sides.

Downtube shifter...

To start with the bike will be a 1×9 that I can shift up front with my hand if needed. Depending on how that goes I may add a front derailleur or I may not bother. The downtube shifter is the second half of the one I used to shift the front triple on my rando bike. I haven’t cabled it in yet, but will do that next session.

V-brakes at the back...

Shimano Deore V-brakes with salmon Koolstop pads are on the back.

V-brakes at the front...

Same setup at the front.

A splash of colour...

I thought I’d try a bit of colour on the bars and with the cable housing. Frankly I’m not 100% on the red yet, but it’s worth a shot. If I don’t like it I will change it later in the year. Dia-Comp 287V levers.

Silver seatpost...

I got a cheap unbranded silver seatpost that looks more elegant than the F-ugly one I had found in my parts bin.

Next up cable up the shifter go for a test ride. Then racks and fenders!


LHT Repair Kit…

11 07 2011

No more flats for me!

After my recent LHT tire blowout and forced walk to MEC I was motivated to ensure that I always had the tools/supplies needed to fix basic bike problems. So I grabbed a spare seatbag and loaded it up with:

  • patch kit [2 tubes of glue]
  • tire levers
  • multitool
  • 700c presta tube
  • 26″ presta tube


I’ll be adding to this kit:
  • tire boot material
  • chain tool
  • spare 9 spd SRAM powerlink

My Surly Long Haul Trucker taking a break on the Gorge Waterway...

Now as long as I remember to grab a pump I should be able to deal with anything that’s likely to happen while out riding my LHT. I don’t use a seatbag on my LHT most of the time because I lock this bike up downtown a lot, but by keeping everything organized in a seatbag it gives me the option of hanging the bag from my saddle or simply dropping it into a pannier.

Big Bird…

9 07 2011

I'm glad people paint murals...=-)

LHT 26‚Ä≥ Wheeled Build PT6‚Ķ

8 07 2011

My 26" wheeled LHT with cranks and pedals installed...

I installed some lovely Velo Orange cranks and MKS pedals on the LHT using a Shimano square taper BB. The shot above is a bit low to let you see the saddle vs. bar height, but it’s now set where I’ll be riding it.

Crank and pedal detail...

The Velo Orange crankset is the Grand Cru Fluted Double [34T/48T]. It’s got a lovely finish and useful ring sizes. The MKS pedals are nothing special, but they were sitting in my parts bin and looked like they would suit this LHT build so on they went.

BTW – just realized I didn’t install the decorative covers over the crank bolts in the image above…my bad…you can see them in the photo below.

Bike parts porn...

I used a 118mm Shimano square taper BB. As you can see from the photo of the left crank arm below this does not provide a ton of clearance with the left chainstay. I’m pondering swapping in a 122mm spindle BB to get 2mm extra clearance on each side.


Up next I’ll install the brakes and levers…

LHT 26‚Ä≥ Wheeled Build PT5‚Ķ

1 07 2011

To debadge or not to debadge?

I’m a proud Surly owner and love my original Long Haul Trucker. I would never think about stripping the decals off my other Surly bikes, but for some reason I keep having that thought about this 26″ wheel LHT build. Not because I want to hide the fact it’s a Surly, but I’m feeling like with lots of shiny silver parts the bike could have a sweet classic low-key look if I removed all the decals. I would of course keep the Surly headtube badge to maintain its Surly identity, but in a subtle way that doesn’t scream out for attention.

I’ll wait until the very end of the build to decide, but that’s the way I am leaning at the moment…

LHT 26‚Ä≥ Wheeled Build PT4‚Ķ

30 06 2011

It's starting to look like a bike...

I decided to install my bars and stem next since it makes the frame look like a bike sooner than if I worked on the BB cranks.

Velo Orange Chris' Rando bars...

When I saw the VO Grand Cru Chris’ Rando Handlebar on their website a while back I made a mental note to try one on my next build. It’s got an interesting shape with lots of bends that look like they’ll be quite comfortable. I got the 44cm width which means the tops are about 38cm apart centre to centre. The finsh quality is great and at $50 they seem like a great option to consider for a long distance bike.

VO Product shot...

The VO product shot above shows some of the curves better than my photos.

VO stem...

Continuing the theme of nicely finished functional parts that don’t cost a lot I attached the bar to the fork with ¬†a VO 4 bolt threadless stem [26mm clamp, 90mm length and 6 deg rise]. It looks sweet and at $35 it’s priced well. I need to track down some silver 1 1/8″ headset spacers and ditch the black ones I have on the bike right now as they look goofy with the silver stem/bars.

VO stem product shot...

Here is a VO product shot that does the¬†attractiveness¬†of this stem justice. I’ve mounted it will a 6 deg negative rise so that I have the option of turning it upwards on a tour if I need some ergonomic relief. I’ll set the tops of the bars level with the saddle once I get its position finalized.

My next move will have to be the BB/cranks/pedals!

LHT 26‚Ä≥ Wheeled Build PT3‚Ķ

28 06 2011

Velo Orange Grand Cru 1 1/8" threadless mirror finish headset...

When I was young and foolish I used to buy premium headsets for my bikes because I thought they had to be superior given the exorbitant cost. Then as my fleet grew I was forced to buy some lower cost headsets and was¬†surprised¬†to find no difference at all in using or maintaining them. Ever since I’ve been buying quality mid-grade headsets at a reasonable price and been totally satisfied.

Exploded view of the internals...

When it came to my 26″ LHT build I wanted something that would look nice with the mostly silver parts build I was using, that was high quality and was not expensive. Velo Orange has become a regular stop for me when looking for parts for a bike build and I ended up with a Grand Cru 1 1/8″ threadless headset. It’s got a lovely mirrored finish and uses high quality sealed bearings at a reasonable price of $52.

VO headset install in my 58cm 26" wheeled LHT...

I took the headset down to Cycles West [my new LBS] a few blocks from my house so they could install the headset for me. Now that I am home for a few weeks I hope to get this project rolling again and finish of the build.

Next up is the BB, crank and pedals. Then stem and bars. It’s almost a bicycle…=-)

LHT 26‚Ä≥ Wheeled Build PT2‚Ķ

31 05 2011

Starting to add the ingredients for a great bike...

Before you order your new frame make sure it has enough clearance for the tires and fenders you intend to use. It’s not rare for people to change their view of what size tire they want to use on their bikes or decide that fenders are a good idea. With generous clearances in the frame and fork you can always run smaller rubber, but if you start with your tires taking up all your spare room and decide you want to install fenders you are out of luck.

I’m a fan of bigger tires. They aren’t as slow as people think they are – in fact they can be downright fast if you get a light supple set. They provide a comfortable ride on rough ground and can handle mixed surfaces much better than narrow rubber. For a 26″ wheel a something in the range 40-50mm provides good balance between speed, comfort and good handling. I don’t like narrow tires on 26″ wheel as the ride is harsh and the handling can be nervous.

Schwalbe Big Apples 26 x 2.15" of rubber...

Surly designed the LHT to fit decent size rubber so it was easy to mount up some 2.15″ Schwalbe Big apples. There is room left over for full fenders. I decided to give the Big Apples a try since they were hanging up in my garage from Sharon’s city bike’s first incarnation. I mounted them up on some wheels that I had left over from previous bikes. The front wheel is a nice custom built unit with a XT hub and a Velocity Aeroheat rim. The rear wheel is a low end WTB disc hub mated to an unbranded rim. It’s a bit of a pig and not something I’d want to use long term, but I figured I might as well roll with it for now until I decide what I want to use on the rear.

Fatties do fit fine...=-)

Custom wheels are nice, but they cost a lot and aren’t needed for most applications. You can buy lower cost machine built wheels that will be fine unless you are very hard on your gear or very picky. If you do buy machine built wheels get something using mid-grade hubs/rims and have a human go over them to ensure the tension is even. That last step is low cost [$10-$15], but is the difference between having all sorts of problems and being satisfied with an affordable set of wheels. Don’t skip it!

I’m not going to get too hung up on the wheels for this bike until I try some 650B hoops with Grand Bois Hetres 42mm tires. If I stick with 26″ wheels in the long run I’ll get a better rear wheel and probably run something like a 2.0″ Schwalbe Kojak for better speed.

I moved the Brooks Champion Flyer saddle and seatpost over from my 700c LHT. The tan leather will add a touch of class to this black frame that will get built up with silver fenders and components. I’ve even considered using leather bar tape, but we’ll see that may be one step too far for me!…=-)

LHT 26″ Wheeled Build PT1…

28 05 2011

Rustproofed and ready to be built...

I bought my sage green Surly Long Haul Trucker frame back in the day when the only option was 700c wheels [for frames 56cm +] and complete bikes were just a dream. I was really pleased to see Surly introduce a 26″ wheeled trucker in the larger sizes recently. The 26″ wheel size allows you to use parts that are ubiquitous due to the proliferation of the mountain bike and to fit massive rubber plus fenders into the frame for a strong wheel that rolls like it’s on a cloud. If you are headed off paved roads or to a destination where roads are more an idea than a reality 26″ wheels/wide rubber make sense.

I’ve been curious how different a 26″ LHT would be compared to my 700c frame. A side by side comparison was on my mind for a while, but it took a little while to make it happen. Well I’m stoked to say I’ve got a 58cm black LHT frame in my work stand finally. ¬†My plan is to try out a few different builds on this frame over the summer and compare them back to back with my 700c Trucker.

Some ideas I have:

  • trying 38mm and 50mm 26″ rubber
  • trying drop bars and Jones Loop H-bar
  • trying 650B wheels & 42mm Grand Bois Hertre tires
  • trying a porteur rack up front to see how the bike handles
  • possibly setting it up in¬†lightweight¬†mode with 650B tires as a rando rig

New Surly LHT dropouts...

One thing I really like about Surly is that they don’t trying and upgrade their frames needlessly each year like most companies just for the sake of giving you something new to buy. They come up with a solid design, test it thoroughly and then stick with it. The LHT has seen only a couple changes over the years. The rear dropouts are different from my LHT. The rack/fender mounts are supported much better in the new dropouts which is a plus if you carry very heavy loads on rough terrain.
The rough looking finish on the dropouts in the image above is due to rust proofing I didn’t clean off – not a problem with the powder coat.

Nice tall head tube...

The other difference I noticed is that the new LHT’s head tube is ~9″ tall vs. 6.5″ on my older LHT to accomodate the lower front wheel.

The blue LHT...

One thing I’ll be doing differently this time around is to document and post about each stage of the build so that someone who has never built a bike from a frame can see what’s involved. For this post let’s talk about sizing a frame and frame prep.
How to size a frame?
I’m no expert at this and I¬†occasionally¬†goof up, but my system works most of the time!
  • if you have a similar bike you like measure it
  • if not go to a LBS and find a similar bike that fits well and measure it or grab the specs from the net
  • if that’s not working for you ask your LBS to suggest a size
  • use the top tube length as the primary criteria
  • then check the¬†stand over¬†to make sure you aren’t going to have any issues straddling the bike [I have zero stand over on my LHT and it’s no problem]
  • get a second¬†independent¬†opinion [hopefully it agrees with your¬†initial¬†sizing result]
  • if you are not confident in the answer you get take your time and keep looking into it
For a bike like the LHT most people can ride two sizes comfortably. I like my 58cm LHT, but I can easily fit on a 56cm frame, but a 54cm frame is too small.

56cm LHT w/ 26" wheels - Photo: Hiawatha Cyclery...

Frame Prep:
  • inspect for any damage
  • clean threads [BB, braze ons]
  • face BB shell [for external bearing cranks]
  • face head tube and fork crown
  • rustproof inside of frame
I’ll be honest I’ve tried going nuts on the frame prep and not doing anything at all. I haven’t noticed much if any difference in outcome. I’ve read the same thing online from a lot of other folks so it’s not something I stress about. I had both my old trucker and the new frame rustproofed by the Fairfield Bicycle Shop. The cost was low and it seems like a reasonable precaution for a bike used in a wet climate. If you are not sure if you should get your new frame fully prepared by a bike shop find out how much it will cost and compare that to the cost of the frame.
You can always go back to your LBS for some frame prep help if as you build the bike you notice some issues with stuff like excessive¬†powder¬†coat on the threads. However, you do need to deal with rustproofing while the frame is bare so once you start the build it’s too late to reconsider without having to strip the frame again.
While you are at it look the frame over very closely for any obvious problems with the paint, welds and alignment. Most frames are shipped well packaged, but I’ve had 3 arrive with some form of damage. If you have to return a frame for replacement ideally you want to figure that out before you waste time/$$ preparing the frame and installing the headset.

Surly LHT Update

25 05 2011

Behold the Long Haul Trucker MK2...

My Surly Long Haul Trucker is one of my most ridden and definitely one of my least modified bikes. Given my¬†tendency¬†to tweak and try new things that says a lot. It was custom built from a frame back in the day when Surly didn’t offer a complete trucker. The LHT worked so well for me for so long I have to admit I felt a bit hesitant to tear the bike down in case it somehow didn’t ride so beautifully for me when it was reborn. My goal was to clean the trucker, upgrade a few parts and keep the same amazingly versatile fun personality.

Fender and mud flap bling...

I wanted to replace the beat up SKS plastic fenders on my bike with something nicer and bit more functional. Sharon had complained about getting spray off the short rear SKS fender so I wanted to ensure the revamped LHT had a nice long set of mud flaps on it. I used the custom flaps I got from Buddy Flaps which fit the Velo Orange fenders perfectly.

Nice fender lines...

As I posted a couple days ago the Velo Orange hammered metal fenders [45mm] went on easily and it was simple to get a decent fender line. I’ll ride the bike for a week and then cut the fender struts when I am 100% on the fender position. I cleaned up the rest of the rear end and reinstalled everything. I love the OMM racks¬†and the Schwalbe Marathon XR tires.

Velo Orange fender up front...

The front fender also got a custom mud flap. You can make DIY mud flaps for free, but I have to say I am really liking having a bit of customization on my bikes and the cost is modest. I’ll probably order a few more sets of mud flaps from Buddy Flaps for some of my other bikes. After some cleaning I reinstalled the cranks/pedals and the rarely used front derailleur.

Dynohub & light...

Most folks will home in on my lovely new metal fenders, but the discerning observer will notice the new B&M Cyo IQ Plus tucked under the OMM Cold Springs rack and connected to a Shimano DH-3N80 dynohub. It’s hard to overstate how useful a high quality light [with vertical cut off] with a dynohub is for 24/7 lighting when you need it. I don’t ever miss using unfocused battery powered headlights and the folks I don’t blind when I’m riding around at night also don’t miss them! I used a light bracket from Rene Herse to mount the light at the front left side of the OMM rack.

A hard Brooks B17...

I put the uber hard Brook B17 that I softened a bit using neatsfoot oil on my LHT. Since I ride this bike a lot I’m hoping I’ll get a chance to break it in the rest of the way so it’s as comfy as my older/softer Brooks saddles. Since all my taillights [Planet Bike and Radbot] use the same mount I just check my light before a ride. If I find a weak one I put it in a pile for¬†recharging¬†and grab another light. I have enough on the go I can always put my hand on a charged one in 5 seconds.

Front lighting detail...

I’m pleased with how the rebuild has progressed. As I noted above I embarked upon this project with some reluctance, but I felt the changes would be an improvement worth undertaking. Now that I can look at the finished bike I think I achieved a nice balance between the old faithful trucker and the new trucker. The dynolighting is a key upgrade as are the metal fenders with full mud flaps. I can still see my old bike in all the components I transfered over to the new build as well as in the scratches and scuffs in the paint. I think keeping the classic sage green paint for a few more years was a smart move. It really anchors the great¬†memories¬†I have had with this bike to the promise of new adventures that the upgrades bring.

An upgrade worthy of a trusty steed...

A few things left to do:

  • minor adjustments after a week or so of riding
  • touch up paint or clear nail polish on scratches
  • polishing frame with Pedros Bike Lust
  • cut fenders struts
  • ride for another 7yrs!

LHT Update #2

26 04 2011

Getting ready to clean some drivetrain...

Dirty cassette...

After some cleaning...

a bit more clean metal...

Now I just need to clean both derailleurs and my drivetrain will be ready for reinstalling on the LHT. Still waiting on the rust proofing to arrive so I can treat the frame. Until that happens I’ll just putter around with cleaning and tweaking the various bits of the bike.

LHT Update #1

20 04 2011

Shimano dynohub, Mavid CXP33 rim & B&M IQ CYO Plus light...

I’ve got the following done so far:

  • dynohub front wheel built up
  • New Schwalbe Marathon XR mounted
  • B&M light on hand ready to install
  • stripped frame and pulled fork
  • cleaned frame and fork
  • inspected paint
  • cleaned and inspected both OMM racks
  • cleaned rear wheel and inspected tire

Shimano dynohub detail...

  • The powder coat is in serviceable¬†condition¬†after many years of abuse. There are a few scratches/chips and the finish is dull/thin in a few spots. I considered taking this opportunity to get the frame freshly power coated. It would make sense as it may be another 7 years before I strip the bike down next. After some serious thought I decided that the sage green paint is a classic Surly Long Haul Trucker finish and I should leave it for the time being. Next time I refurbish this frame it will see a new powder coat so I’ll enjoy the sage green as long as I can. I’m planning on hunting down some touch up paint and using Pedros Bike Lust frame polish to restore some much needed luster to my trucker.
  • However, before I do that I am going to coat the inside of the tubes with frame saver rust proofing and clean up the¬†inevitable¬†mess that will result! Then do any touch ups to the finish and polish it before starting the reassembly process.
  • While I wait on getting touch up and frame saver [ordered] I will clean the derailleurs, cassette and chain. After checking the chain it has a lot of life left in it. I may have put a new chain on recently and not remembered. In any case the drivetrain has at least another season left in it so I’ll just clean and adjust. New cables and housing are in order. ¬†I need to decide on the colour of the housing and pick some up.

Surly LHT To Do List…

13 04 2011

My Surly Long Haul Trucker in her current configuration...

I’ve finally got all the parts together for my LHT MK2 upgrade project. I put my Bow Bicycle 24 in the Stand of Shame before my LHT so I would be motivated to get on with the 24’s work so I can hit the LHT. My LHT has stayed pretty much the same all the years I’ve owned it so this is exciting stuff and it will be a big change for the old girl. The dyno lighting will be very useful and make it even more of a goto ride in my fleet. The hammered fenders will add some lovely bling! The hard B17 – well it won’t add anything, but I need to break it in so the LHT is as good a place as any.

So here is my plan:

  • strip frame down to BB and headset [inspect¬†them, but expect them to be fine]
  • spray rust proofing in frame
  • wash frame
  • install bars and stem
  • clean and inspect brakes [install new pads as needed]
  • install brake levers
  • install derailleurs and shifters [use new cables and housing]
  • install new chain
  • inspect cassette and chain rings [clean and/or replace as needed]
  • clean old rear wheel
  • install new tires [Marathon XRs 700 x 35mm]
  • install old rear wheel and new Shimano dynohub front wheel
  • cable brakes [new cables & housing]
  • install VO hammered metal fenders
  • clean and install racks [OMM front and rear]
  • install seatpost
  • replace Champion Flyer with black B17 [need to break it in another Brooks]
  • install accessories [bell and rear light]
  • DIY front B&M light mount for OMM front rack
  • install B&M front light
  • wrap bars with fresh tape

I’ll take my time both because my LHT deserves some attention and because it should be a fun overhaul…=-)

Aushiker’s Hebie Stand on a Surly LHT…

22 03 2011

LHT with Hebie 2 legged stand...

Aushiker posted a nice review of a Hebie 2 legged kickstand mounted to his Surly Long Haul Trucker [LHT]. I’ve used an ESGE 2 legged kickstand in the past on my LHT and really enjoyed having it available anytime I wanted on tour. Currently my LHT is kickstand-less as it came off during my last big maintenance session and I haven’t put it back on yet. For around town rides I don’t find I need a kickstand on this bike because I have to lock it to something when I stop anyways so I lean it against the object I lock to. For a long tour I’d definitely reinstall the ESGE stand.

My LHT on its stand...

Grand Bois – No, but Honjos – Yes…

16 01 2011

LHT with Grand Bois Cypres tires....

I gave up on my tire rolling resistance test as my methodology was flawed so that I couldn’t get repeatable results. ¬†I’ll have to get some help to ensure each run starts the same and also get some help taking the measurements. ¬†Doing it all by myself was not working.

So I put the Grand Bois Cypres on my LHT and used it for a couple days. ¬†The tires are fast and comfy, but the more I rode them the more I came to the conclusion I really want them on my Bow Cycle cross bike so I can log training KMs for my 2011 brevets. ¬†I’ll put the Marathon XRs back on the LHT and it can stay in hauling mode rather than trying to be a go fast bike.

Hammered fenders...

However, as I was messing with the tires I came to the conclusion that my aging SKS fenders could use replacing. ¬†They still work fine [although the back one is a bit short], but they look awful. I think I’ll get some hammered metal fenders to dress up the LHT. ¬†I’ll take the opportunity to clean the frame and do any drivetrain maintenance it needs. ¬†I bought a leather mudflap to match the tan Brooks saddle. ¬†I’ll order them so they arrive as I get back from Baja. ¬†It will be nice to roll around on a minty fresh trucker that looks sweet.

Custom Rene Herse...

My LHT won’t look as lovely as the custom Rene Herse above, but you get the idea…=-)

Got room for fat rubber and fenders?

14 01 2011

Surly LHT with 30mm rubber and Berthoud fenders...

One thing I read online over and over is someone trying to fit bigger rubber and fenders into a frame not designed for them. ¬†It’s particularly sad when someone buys an expensive performance bent/DF and realizes narrow high pressure tires aren’t as well suited to their needs as wider rubber, but the frame can barely accomodate 23mm tires without fenders so they are stuck with narrow rubber and either have to hack up a DIY fender solution or forego them entirely.

My advice is if you are buying a new bike – especially an expensive one – make sure you can fit at least 30mm tires and full coverage fenders on a 700c and 40mm tires and full fenders on a 26″ wheel frame. ¬†If you don’t need or want anything bigger than 23mm for now no big deal the extra room doesn’t hurt, but you’ll have options for down the road.

Road bikes need fenders as well...

Back in Calgary I got some strange looks when I put road tires and fenders on my Bow Cycle 24 cross bike. ¬†In Victoria everyone has fenders on their road bike. ¬†Using a cross bike as a road machine is smart because there is lots of room for fenders. ¬†Not only that, but I’m going to replace the 23mm racing tires with 30mm Grand Bois Cypres [instead of putting them on my LHT] since it will make a better rando bike for me. ¬†On most road bikes there is no room for anything more than 23mm tires while on this rig 30mm tires and fenders will play nice.

Grand Bois 30mm tires installed - just needs a mudflap...

When do IGHs make sense?

8 12 2010

The Gold Standard for IGHs...

I’m a fan of IGHs.¬† I’ve got 2 Rohloffs, 2 Nexus 8s and an Alfine 8 in service in addition to a number of derailleur equipped bikes.

There are a lot of things to like about IGHs:

  • low maintenance
  • hard to break in¬†accident¬†or during shipping/transport
  • clean looking drivetrain
  • easy to use sequential gearing
  • builds up into a strong dishless rear wheel
  • easy to adjust shifting when needed
  • IGH wheel can be shared easily between multiple bikes
  • can shift when stopped [say on a steep hill]
  • will work on almost any frame

There are also some things not to like about IGHs:

  • internals are not field serviceable
  • cost is higher than comparable quality derailleur setup
  • greater power loss than derailleurs
  • greater weight than derailleurs
  • gear range usually lower than a 3 x 9 setup
  • can’t tell what conditions internal mechanism is in without a tear down
  • limited selection of stock bikes sold with IGHs so you have to replace a stock derailleur setup or build custom from frame in most cases
  • drivetrain is in hub so if you have two wheel sets for a frame each needs its own IGH
  • limited shifter options for drop bars

When you consider these points it becomes clear that there is no slam dunk in favour of derailleurs or IGHs.¬† The optimal choice depends on what’s important to you.

Here are some things to consider:

  • a quality derailleur drivetrain that has been setup properly shouldn’t need a lot of attention if used on paved roads – especially if it doesn’t see much rain.¬† As you start to ride more in the rain and move onto mud, snow & sand derailleurs get messed up and need lots of love. This is where the IGH’s low maintenance can be a considerable benefit.¬† However, for a lot of people who ride for pleasure or are fair weather commuters they won’t see a lot of benefit, in terms of maintenance, between a derailleur and an IGH, but they will have to deal with the extra weight, extra cost and power loss of the IGH.
  • if you are having problems with your derailleurs and they are low end units replacing them with some middle of the road will probably solve your problems with less cost than an IGH and with less weight and power loss.
  • derailleur setup are more efficient in the larger cogs of the cassette which correspond to low gears.¬† A Rohloff is less efficient in the lower gears than the upper gears due to the way its planetary gears are setup. This means you’ll experience the most inefficiency with a Rohloff vs. a derailleur on a steep climb where a weaker rider can afford least to give up power.
  • An IGH can be shifted at a stop. For a cargo bike or some recumbents this can be a real benefit since unweighting the back wheel to shift to a lower gear isn’t easy.
  • An IGH rear wheel is very strong since there is little or no dish to the spokes and the resulting equal tension and wide base makes the wheel very robust.¬† Having said that a well tensioned cassette wheel is strong enough for adult men to use mtn biking so for many applications it’s more than adequate.¬† If you are not a clydesdale and/or you are not riding an overloaded bike, but still have wheel problems talk to an expert wheel builder – there is something wrong with your wheels.
  • I use a 3 x 9 derailleur setup in a simple way.¬† I ride in the middle ring 90% of the time and use the 9 cogs as a sequential gear box.¬† I use the bottom 3 gears and top 3 gears 10% of the time when I need them.¬† This is easy to do and doesn’t require a lot of thinking to get the right gear.
  • The only satisfactory drop bar IGH shifter I have come across is the JTek bar end shifter for the Nexus 8 /Alfine 8 hubs.¬† It’s a pleasure to use. JTek will be coming out with a bar end shifter for the Alfine 11, but it might be the end of 2011 before it hits the market. You can mount twist shifters and trigger shifters on or around drop bars and they work, but I have found them to be so poor to use that I won’t bother using such a setup.

Surly Cross Check in lovely Robin's Egg Blue...

Example #1 Sharon’s Cross Check

I’m going to build Sharon a Surly Cross Check using parts from her city bike.¬† The goal is to have a more efficient ride for her since she is not a powerful rider.¬† I considered whether or not to use the Nexus 8 IGH from her city bike or build her a custom 700c cassette wheel and use derailleurs.

I decided to use the Nexus 8:

  • the main benefits of the Nexus 8 for Sharon are 1) it’s paid for 2) it’s easy to use/maintain.
  • Sharon’s current commuter MTB has a cheap derailleur which needs monthly adjustment and she’d rather put a nail through her hand than learn how to tweak a derailleur [I don’t blame her!].¬† The Nexus 8 is dead easy to adjust since you simply align two yellow marks are you are done. Plus it doesn’t need frequent adjustment – maybe twice a year.
  • I am concerned that the extra weight and power loss are not ideal for Sharon since she isn’t a speed demon.
  • I think Sharon will like the simple aesthetic of the IGH chainline and how quiet it is.
  • for the initial build we’ll use swept back riser bars from her city bike and a twist shifter as well as the city bike’s v-brake levers – they are all paid for!

Looking forward I think when the Nexus 8 dies we’ll try a quality derailleur 1 x 9 or 2 x 9 setup:

  • I have lots of derailleur parts in my spares bin so cost will be low.
  • she can benefit from extra efficiency and lower weight.
  • a quality derailleur [LX,XT, 105 or Ultegra] won’t need lots of maintenance or adjustment given she rides only paved roads.
  • she would benefit from the aerodynamic position and multiple hand positions of a drop bar so we’ll use a bar end shifter.
  • she doesn’t need an uber strong back wheel since she is light and doesn’t carry lots of cargo.
  • with another few years of cycling under her belt she will figure out how to adjust a derailleur by ossmosis and it won’t be a big deal.
  • we’ll need drop bar v-brake levers, but by that time her current ones will be old and it makes sense to replace them.

If I was starting from scratch I’d build her bike with drop bars¬† and 1 x 9 derailleur setup mainly because as a weaker rider getting as much power to the road is a benefit she will realize every pedal stroke whereas the difference in maintenance is a smaller benefit realized only occasionally.¬† The drop bar aero position is a benefit when she wants to get more aggressive and increase her sped.

The muddy Dempster Highway...

Example #2 my Surly Big Dummy

My Surly Big Dummy was initially built up with a Rohloff hub and it’s a setup I continue to ride today.¬† If I was starting again I’d use the same hub:

  • having an uber strong rear wheel on the Dummy is critical.
  • this is a heavy bike so the incremental weight of the IGH isn’t a big penalty.
  • I use wide stiff tires [Marathon XRs] on this bike which cause a bigger performance hit than the Rohloff.
  • I generally ride this bike short distances at moderate speeds.
  • A lot of the folks I ride with regularly are weaker riders than me so the Dummy helps equalize things while being very useful if we run errands on the ride.
  • being able to shift while stopped is a big benefit when you stop in a high gear at the bottom of a hill and you have a passenger on the back.
  • I wanted to use Titec H-bars for this bike which work fine with the Rohloff twist shifter.
  • I have used this bike for dirt road/muddy road tours and the Rohloff’s imperiousness to mud was a major benefit.

Besides being a cargo bike this bike is my dirt road/expedition touring rig. The Rohloff’s strength and low maintenance are benefits in this role that out weigh the weight and power loss. I would not ride this bike across Canada on paved roads – it would be painful compared to my Surly LHT.

Trucking on the Bow Valley Parkway, Alberta...

Example #3 my Surly Long Haul Trucker

I built up this touring bike from parts using a 3 x 9 derailleur setup.¬† After several thousands of kms of touring and errand riding I’m on the same cassette/chainrings/derailleurs, but I have swapped in new chains as needed.¬† I love riding this bike.¬† If I were to start again I’d go with a similar build although I might simplify it by skipping the front derailleur and going with a 1 x 9 setup.

  • all my riding has been on paved roads [wet and dry, but mostly dry].
  • I haven’t had much maintenance hassle with this bike.
  • I really enjoy how the Shimano bar end shifters work and love using drop bars on this bike.
  • by touring standards by 32H wheels are light to medium duty yet I have had zero problems and they have not needed adjustment since built up.¬† I attribute this to sensible component selection and the skill of an expert wheel builder who tensioned the wheels.
  • this bike is fast and efficient by the standards of a touring bike and can still haul enough gear to cross the continent while camping/cooking my own meals.

I have considered using an IGH with this bike, but upon further thought it seems I have nothing to gain by that change and I would end up with a heavier less efficient bike.

Who needs gears?

Why not just fix the problem?

Many cyclists who are thinking of IGHs to get low maintenance trouble free drivetrains should take a close look at using a fixed gear bike.  By doing away with gears entirely a FG bike is lighter and more efficient than a derailleur bike while also being lower maintenance and more bombproof than an IGH.

There is this myth that FGs are slow and they are hard to climb.¬† Neither are true for even an average cyclists as long as you aren’t medically compromised and you don’t live in San Fran!¬† For a commuter, pleasure cyclist and even for light errands a FG offers a lot of benefits.

If the lack of coasting ability freaks you out a single speed setup adds a slight bit of weight and complexity, but lets you cost on the downhills.

Naturally for some applications [cargo biking, touring, recumbents, etc..] a FG or SS may not work, but that still leaves the majority of cyclists who could use one.

Sharon has checked out a FG/SS bike and expressed interest. What I may do for her CC is get her some 700c FG/SS wheels that she can swap in to see what she thinks. If she likes them we might skip gears entirely and go simple and light which would be to her advantage in many ways.