Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Is it a touring bike, a commuter, or a monstercross bike?

Its hard to believe that someone might actually post something here about simply building and riding a bike rather than ranting about the latest injustice to bicycling, but here goes. I finally decided to foray into a long considered project and build up a loaded touring bike. So when we finally took the old Trek T-200 tandem off the road (we have not used it since buying the Co-Motion Primera) I took it apart, saved all the parts and bought a Surly Long Haul Trucker loaded touring frameset from the nice folks at Mellow Velo down in Santa Fe. This would be the test frame to hang the parts onto. This has resulted in a touring geometry bike with 9 spd bar-ends,cyclecross drop bars, linear pull brakes, and a triple touring crankset in 46-36-26 configuration driving an 11-34 cogset with 26 inch wheels, the 26's being standard on Surly's smaller LHT frames.

Long Haul Trucker in original form, on a Camp May Road 
 fire road entrance, wearing  those Bontrager Jones fat tires.
Yep, those fatties really do fit fine

In its original form I threw a set of ancient 26 x 1.95 inch Bontrager Jones knobbies on it because that was all I had in the parts pile, leading my longtime pen pal Patrick O'Grady to call it a monstercross bike. Those tires, along with an ancient but still true Bontrager mountainbike wheelset, have been hanging in the garage since God was a child and finally had a home. In that form, and with a last minute panic purchase of some steerer tube spacers from Jim Rickman at Little Jimmy's Wheelhouse, right here in BombTown, I took it out on Sunday morning, climbed Camp May Road, and wandered between road and fire road indiscriminately.  The bike was actually happier clawing up steep rocky fire roads in the granny ring while it felt a little sluggish on pavement due to the full off road tires. So back to REI that afternoon for some road rubber.  Right now it is shod with 26 x 1.5 inch city tires and is a very efficient, fast and stable commuter. At some point, I need to put on my front Blackburn Low Riders and take it on a real bike tour.

Long Haul Trucker in commuter trim.
The 26-1.5 Serfas Drifters are a tad heavy, but look pretty bombproof 
Next time I'll get some faster, more supple tires
11-4-11 addenum. I did get around to trimming the steerer tube. Gotta replace that ancient bar tape, too. The big improvement was swapping out a 110 mm bottom bracket for a 115. Now I don't have the front derailleur, which had the low limit screw all the way in as far as it could go, rubbing the chain in the 26-34 and 26-30 combinations Chain line is still OK, but I have to take it out now and ride it to see how the Q factor feels. If the pedals are too far apart, I'll have to find a front derailleur that can move closer to the centerline of the bike.

All in all, its been a lot of fun. Heck of a lot cheaper and far healthier than some hobbies, too!

1 comment:

Little Jimmy said...

Think of it as a Monstercommuter!