The 60cm LHT is on it’s way from Illinois to Baltimore. Should be here tomorrow.
It was one of those things. I was riding the Specialized for several months that I built up because the Trek was too small. I didn’t invest too much into it, so I didn’t feel too bad when I found out that it was too small as well. I should have known better. I always felt cramped on my old Giant Yukon frame from 10 years ago whenever I rode it more than 35 miles at a shot. It was 21 inches, the Specialized was 21 inches. I always pushed the seat as far back on the rails as I could adjust it… Oh well. Add the additional reach that I got from the moustache bars, and it was fun to ride for 50 or 60 miles at a shot, but it still didn’t feel right. Probably had something to do with the fact that I was so far forward on it that it felt like my weight was centered over the front wheel. It got me through the winter riding a couple hundred trainer miles anyway.
I might have even continued to ride it for a while longer, because it doesn’t feel THAT bad, but there were also a lot of little hacks that I had to perform to get the brake levers and the bar-end shifters to work correctly with a mountain bike frame. The 7 speed drivetrain that I’ve transplanted from 3 bikes down the line is nearly shot too. Spending money on new chainrings, cogs and chains for a 12 year old bike that doesn’t fit perfectly doesn’t make sense.
Then I got really serious about finding a correctly sized frame. Rivendell Bicycle Works has the most remarkable looking bikes. Right up my alley, except for the fact that frames run $1400 for the production models, and nearly $3k for complete bikes with sensible parts groups. I would buy in a heartbeat if I was made of money, or I didn’t mind looking back every 2 seconds when I was out in public to see if anyone swiped my bike. They did have some great information about their philosophy on picking a correctly sized bike. Regardless of the fact that I couldn’t afford it, I’ve been lusting after their Atlantis frame since before I built up the Specialized last summer. Once I knew I was buying something new, I started researching, and found that the field for inexpensive, stout, affordable road and touring bikes is amazingly small.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of my favorites I saw…
Rivendell Atlantis – This IS the bike I would buy if it were not for the price.
Kogswell Model G – I love the Custard Yellow color, and the idea of geometry tweaking by ordering a slightly different fork. I was turned off by the 650b wheels. Yeah, you can order them from tons of places, but what if you blow a tube or a tire when you’re out on the road and you have to pick up a spare.
Trek 520 – Also a very good option. I like the base price, steel frame, standard bar end shifters, unobtrusive graphics, and the fact that it’s made in the USA. The things I wasn’t crazy about were the small maximum size tires that you could fit in the frame with fenders (32’s with fenders according to this forum), and the ridiculously high gearing. 52/42/30. That’s a little more ambitious than I was looking for in a loaded touring bike. That’s more ambitious than I would need ANY day.
Bianchi Volpe – Another good option. I liked the color, disliked the integrated shifter/brake levers. The price is good too, but it’s a little cheaper than I was looking for in some components.
Novara Randonee – Novara’s entry. I like, but it has tire clearance issues and I’m not crazy about the integrated shifter/brake levers. Novara also makes the Safari. I like that it takes 26 inch wheels, because I have a bunch of that stuff, and the trekking handlebars look interesting too, but the largest frame size they even make for this bike is 20″. Pass.
The Xtracycle – Now this is cool. I really liked the idea of building one of these up from an old frame, but that would still leave me with the problem of having a frame that was too small for me, unless I went out and bought a new frame too. Surly is also making a standalone frame version of this bike called The Big Dummy. This is awesome, it will be available this summer, and comes in a frame size of 22″. I lost interest when I found out the msrp would be in the range of $900 for the frame only. Total cost even if I didn’t replace the aging drivetrain from my Specialized when I stole parts off of it would be well over $1000 once I bought the integrated rack system and everything from Xtracycle.
MORE LATER, I’m tired >>