27 02 2014

Photo’s are from Kris flickr, again. There are some more there as well.

I built up the front wheel. I was a little trepidatious regarding this build as the flange of the SON 28 front hub is 58mm and it is nearly symmetrical. This means that it is ideally built offset at the rim, side-to-side. The rabbit hole drilling is 7mm offset from center. this means there is not a great deal of triangulation on the spokes. Good, even tension will be critical for longevity.

It went ok though…good tension around 90kgf with 10% variation and <0.1mm lateral and radial. Fine for the rabbit hole rim.

Next step for me is to wire up the Sinewave Revolution to the hub and get all 1.21 giga watts…more soon.

And another thing: what on earth are folk using as a jig for building 190mm or wider rear hubs? answers on a postcard, please.



22 02 2014

So, the 29+ from Kris at 44 bikes is coming along nicely. The next few pics are from his flickr account, which I would suggest checking out…my build is going to be super sweet, but there’s plenty more to see there.

Probably time to fill in a few gaps about this bike. It will be a short stay, super fun, tech-able, long-haul-happy, bikepackable beast. The fork is coming from Drew at Engin, with a Paragon tapered steerer, and a bottle cage mount on each leg.

The wheels will be a SON 28 front hub dynamo, 100mm OLD, built into a Rabbit Hole rim (DT comps, alu nips) and the rear is a DT Swiss 350 150mm wide hub, laced again to a Rabbit Hole with comps and alu nips. I like the whole enchilada of the 3″ tyres and the 50mm rims. The rear wheel is over with Kris to allow final checking of clearances – getting a 29+ bike with the rear end this short is far from straightforward – I think this route is the best having ridden extensively on an 83mm bb bike. There is some discussion of this issue over on MTBR, here, with some good points and thoughts from Walt of Waltworks.

Why the SON hub? well, the dynamo will work with the Revolution I very gratefully received from David Dean at Sinewave to test. This tiny, clever unit allows any electronic device that charges with a USB plug to be run from the dynamo. So my iPhone and iPod, my steripen, my niterider and headtorch can all last the distance when going for extended, backcountry rides. Sweet, eh?

The rear spacing on this frame is 150mm, but it will use Paragon sliders. Initially it have 150mmx10mm normal vertical drops, with a direct mount hanger for a shimano rear mech. However, the beauty of the sliders is that they are replaceable. In the future, this bike may well be converted to 157mm thru, either with a shimano QR skewer or a DT rws – ideally, still with the direct mount for the mech. Ti 12 point bolts natch.

Moving on, the bb is an 83mm shell to help keep the stays down to 425mm, and a Zee crank will be plugged in, mounted with a wolftooth drop stop ring.

Old favourites such as the wide Jones loop bars, ESI grips, XT brakes and shifters, selle san marco zoncolan and modified trail XT pedals and either a thomson post and stem or perhaps an Eriksen post, maybe a Syntace stem. King cages to finish it off. Oh, Chris king inset 7 and bb.

This bike has been in my mind since I first got the Krampus. I believe it is the perfect evolution of the 29+ platform. I think it’s going to really thread the needle of super fun trail bike and bikepacking beast of burden. Kris has been great to work with – I really recommend him, as do other considerably more well known clientele.

Character building.

17 02 2014

The F.B.R.O.T.Y is always a hard one, regardless of terrain or weather. For us, the ‘first big ride of the year’ came into being many moons ago and represented the transition from the limitations of winter to the promise of spring and summer. Over the years, more often than not, the F.B.R.O.T.Y has involved a route in the Trossachs and so it was yesterday.

It would be fair to say I am a little nervous of being fit and tough enough to do some of the things I am aiming to do this year, on the bike. The reason is that it seems very difficult for me to coordinate the time and effort to plug in long enough rides to gain the endurance in the legs, the far sightedness in the eyes, the resetting of the passage of time in the mind and the resistance to friction of the nether regions.

Others seem to manage this by heading out very, very early in the morning or in all weathers. I seem incapable of this.

Perhaps earlier than other years, with the sun shining, I took the bull by the horns and headed out for a long-ish ride yesterday. The aim was the ‘mangrunt’ loop. Named by Chris, if i rememeber correctly because of the amount of grunting required the first time we rode the route, it consists of a loop up and over Conic Hill, then Loch Lomond side, to the rather spooky Inversnaid Hotel, origin of the worst chips in Scotland. Next, it tracks around Loch Arklet into the Queen Elizabeth forest park and takes the ‘mustard’ loop into the forest plantations before finishing somewhere near Conic Hill again. The whole is ~63 miles/100km (100.9km according to my gps) and usually takes 6-6.30 hours.

The aim yesterday was to slip in under 6 hours, thus proving to myself I can still ride a bike and acting as an early season confidence booster.

Fo me, riding up to 4 hours or so is manageable at all times of the year. The first ride of the season that extends beyond this is usually fairly tough, but then I find it possible to gradually extend this to the 10-12 hour rides that will allow me to take on the slightly more daunting routes up north and indeed, the H.T.R.

Having started at Garadbhan, I made it up the improved Conic Hill track and then along Loch Lomond side in quick time, staring in awe at the super-charged waterfall next to the Inversnaid within 3 hours. As I wound round Loch Arklet, the temperature fell and with it my energy levels. Re-fuelling became almost constant, the cold draining energy from my limbs as fast as I could replenish it.

Then the long, winding climbs began and it was with a grim determination that I followed wandering vehicle tracks in the snow.

For the development of strength, I had brought the Krampus. It is by far my heaviest bike. Fortunately, the fat tyres gave me some reasonable purchase, at least initially and I made good progress.

Unfortunately this was not to last. The high route around the mustard loop was covered in 4-6″ of snow. Normally this would be somewhat rideable, however, the surface had frozen into a delicate crust that shattered immediately any weight was brought to bear.

This made for around and hour of on/off post holing and lifting the bike. I tried at times to ride in the drainage ditch alongside the forestry access road, but the frequent sink holes were frustrating. Occasionally, with a roar, I would charge the bike into the deeper snow, clicking up a few gears and using a slight downward gradient to aid my passage.

As with all things, the sun set and the worst of it was over and as I pedaled the last miles on tarmac, I breathed a sigh of relief: the clock showed 5.50hrs.

Tired, but content.

Now – for the rest of the year…


8 02 2014

Over the last wee while I have been pondering bikes. Not so unusual, but things have been a bit more focussed than typical. The Vertigo Cycles fat bike is taking shape and some decisions regarding parts were required. It is not until you sit and look at the current state of play that you realise just how many ‘standards’ there are. One of the main decisions has been dropouts (front and rear) for this bike.

As Sean recently pointed out: “so just in case anyone is curious, fat bikes are made with the following FRONT axle “standards” 9×135, 15×135, 15×142 and 10×135 rear. Do you know where you can buy an aftermarket 15 x anything skewer? Me neither. 12×142 woulda been a good idea y’all if only because it already exists.

And the rear “standard” is: 10×135 offset, 12×142 offset, 10×170, 12×177, 10×190 and 12×197.”

Then things get more complicated still. This bike will have Paragon sliders, and I would like it to run a shimano saint derailleur as a direct mount (ie, the b-link is removed, the derailleur hanger is angled back rather than down and the whole shebang is stiffer and further out of the way for wheel fitting). Then, if i have my druthers I would like a 177mm thru axle, probably DT swiss. This means the drops have wee pockets to aid wheel placement and the thru axles are just great. But wait! The Paragon sliders are available with Maxle 12mm- a 1.75mm pitch thread- Shimano 12mm- a 1.5mm pitch thread and Syntace & DT swiss- a 1mm pitch thread. Some of these are available direct mount some with traditional hanger.

My head hurts trying to work it all out.

Then again, I have a 29+ bike coming from Kris at 44 Bikes. This will replace the Krampus, which I have enjoyed very much. Why replace it after barely a year of use? Well, the trick with the Krampus is that it was made to fit 73mm bb/135mm rear hub standard kit. Very cool, but if you take away this restriction, instead using an 83mm bb and a 150mm rear hub, add in a skilled builder experienced with fitting drive chain and fat tyres past short stays, you can sneak that fat knard into a 16.5″ chainstay.

Why wouldn’t you want to do that?

Truth be told, I don’t think I am going to fully realise the potential of 29+ bikes until better tyres become available. The Knard is fine until you hit wet roots, then it is an issue. It would be really nice to have a more aggressive tyre. The word is the Dirt Wizard will be around in spring – this new Surly tyre looks much more aggressive, but is likely to be a 2.75″ so we’ll see. If I had my druthers I’d have a 2.8″ Maxxis Minion DHF.

This bike will also have sliders. And a SON front hub, maybe 135mm, maybe 100mm.

So… here we go again….it is a *good* problem to have though!