My moratorium on looking at bikes and thinking about bike stuff came to an abrupt end. My wife asked me a little bit ago about what kinds of things I’d like for my Birthday and Christmas. Being a patriotic consumer, I know I SHOULD immediately have something to say to that, but there really isn’t much I want. Aside from a nice bottle of scotch to nurse for a year or 2 I really don’t have anything on my list.
This brings me to the only material thing on my horizon which I have to think about, and that’s the light racer-type bike that I promised myself when I pull weigh-in numbers under 200 for a month straight. Even my best projections put that goal a year or so off, but the wheels are turning, and I’m having many of the same internal debates I had years ago before I brought the Trucker.
I have to say right off the bat that my definition of ‘racer-light’ involves a steel frame, NOTHING carbon, wheels with 32 or greater spokes, a cassette with 9 or less cogs, fenders, and 28 tires or larger. I know this description would seem antithetic to ‘racer’ for most, but. 1) I crave durability and plan on riding any bike I buy from now until the day I die. 2) The 52 pounds I’ve lost so far, and the 75 I’ll have shed by the time I make this a reality count 1000 times more towards any land speed record I’ll ever break on a bike than the extra $4000 I could spend towards any ‘4 pound equipment diet’.
the LHT has been nearly perfect in every way. My only misgivings about going right out and buying a second frame for a rackless build with lighter wheels are,
- BB Drop – Out on the road for long miles I really like the stable feel, but on short runs in the city I lay down sparks with a pedal while cornering at least once a month. I have to think about turns with platforms the way I have to think about stoplights with clipless pedals.
- Predictability. 93% of the time it’s nice. The LHT handles like it’s on rails, but sometimes I wish for something that was just a ‘bit’ quicker – that had a little more liveliness to it. The best way I can describe it is when I commute on the Blue 1×7, I feel I can really ‘toss it around’ like my old bmx bike. By comparison, the Trucker feels like it’s there. Stable, dependable, and if I was going to upstate New York and back, that’s exactly how I’d like to feel all day, but it’s nice to get out for an aggressive ride now and then too. Full on road geometry with a 74+° headtube would probably be too much, but a little quicker would be nice.
Short list as of October 09…
Velo-Orange Randonneur Frame – They’re not even out yet, so not much to write.
Rivendell Bicycle Works “Rodeo” – I know this smacks of snobbery at its finest, but if you are going to go through the trouble of designing and building a lugged frame, give it a gorgeous contrasting paint scheme, and put a $2000 price tag on it, why in the name of all things sacred would you choose to christen it with a title that evokes images of 1950’s westerns and twirling carnival rides? To me, this feels like the sort of ‘who cares’ anti-marketingese that Surly is known best for, and frankly, I’ve grown more fond of their scrawly logo than I think I could ever be to look down and see the word ‘Rodeo’ between my legs. Although I really love the looks of many of their other frames, a glance at the geometry charts and they’re all skewing a little too close to the CS length and BB drop formula that my Trucker is known for. the Quickbeam would be a nice option, but they’re on their way out.
Soma Stanyan – Black with contrasting polished lugs. NICE. I know nothing of the ride.
Salsa Casseroll and single – lots to like, but I just get a little turned off by straight forks. It’s an aesthetic choice. Nothing personal.
Which brings me full circle back to Surly. Good old dependable beautiful Surly (careful if you are sensitive to visual overstimulation, they just redesigned their site and it’s got bacon, donuts, and crazy stuff strewn all over it now)
Surly Pacer – Strong contender, but they’re taking away the silver frames! TOO SOON! I need another year!
Surly Crosscheck – It feels strange, but of all the bikes above, and any other for that matter, I keep coming back to this one as the most logical choice.
- There is a ton of overlap in the frame designs, head tube and seat tube angles are the same. With a liberally cut steerer on the fork I could get the bars high enough to enjoy long rides well into my senior years (Slightly lower than the trucker with its long head tube, not ‘double stem’ high). Essentially, aside from the higher BB and shorter rear triangle it’s the same ride. I tried reading through the Surly Owners group forums for comparison information between the 2 frames and the ride, but cross conversation and erroneous advice made it frustrating to say the least.
- The dropouts are semi-horizontal, so If I wanted to lace up a single speed wheel I could experiment there with minimal investment. That’s nice since I’d never want to own a DEDICATED single bike again. An IG hub would be an option for a build too.
- Next on the list of likes is tires. Very few other non-Riv bikes let you run ‘near 29’er’ size rubber. I do miss the Schwalbe Marathon Crosses and aiming for rocky dirt roads a little bit since I pulled them off last summer.
- Last but not least, it makes sense because it takes 135 wheels, canti brakes and all the stuff that I’ve already got in parts bins sitting around the basement, so if I did get it, it wouldn’t be the ‘little prince’ of my bike collection that needs all kinds of fancy parts to operate. While we’re fairly stress free financially right now, if we were ever really strapped for cash, it’d be nice to know I could keep it running with some duct tape, zip ties, and a pair of the clearance sale brake pads that I stockpiled for the 1×7 5 years ago.
- I could lock it up at the grocery store without developing an ulcer worrying about it while I run in for a loaf of bread. (didn’t I already say last but not least?)
- Oh, and If I don’t like the colors they’re sporting when they do their next production run (beef gravy brown?), there’s still a good chance that they’ll keep their black in the mix. I can live with black.
- I can make it look like (click to go to respective owners galleries)
Drawbacks – Unless I take a hair dryer to all the decals I’ll suffer from a horrible case of aging hipster fashion disease sometime in the next 5 years.
I had a bit of curiosity about the feel of a lugged frame over a tig welded frame until I had a conversation around mile 80 at the Seagull Century. I bumped into a Riv owner (who also turned out to be a long haul trucker owner too), and during our conversation I asked him how much of a difference he felt between the ride of the two bikes. His words were that the comparison was nearly all aesthetic. What a beautiful look it is to admire, but when it comes down to it, I’m more of a slave to function than than form. Know thyself.
These are just incomplete scribbles, so feel free to comment and tell me I’m FoS and really want a Madone with Campy 11. It’s totally subject to change with the whims of the market too. NONE of it helps me with my original conundrum, because I can’t very well ask the wife to buy me a pair of Paul Brakes or a wheel for x-mas until I have an idea what I might be bolting them down to. I know, what awful problems to have. Maybe I’ll roll in to a bike store a year from now after I reach my goal and fall in love with something on the spot, but I really doubt it. My tastes have become WAYYY to specialized to groove on practically any complete bike out there now.
Well, now I can go back to not thinking about it again. I just had to spend a little bit of time on a rainy day and dump my thoughts out so I could go back to math, eating right, exercising, riding and all the other stuff I have (and want) to keep at.