Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Friday, September 20, 2019

New Address

From now on, I will be posting at:

If the link doesn’t work, please copy and paste into your search engine. (More Blogger weirdness!)

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

It Has Been Awhile

I’ll admit that I am less than enthused about blogging, at this point. Shouting into the void without even an echo gets old, sometimes. 

I just loaded up an app which should let me post from my iPhone, once again. Maybe the convenience of that will inspire me to blog. 

One big problem, though, is that the reason I had to buy an app to do this is that Google has apparently abandoned development of the Blogger app. Blogger doesn’t work with the latest iOS, so people can’t even read this blog on a mobile device unless they, too, buy a third party app. 

Maybe I’ll migrate to another platform, like Wordpress, if it’s mobile-compatible. 

Here is the “final” (for now) configuration of the Surly 1x1. The tires are 24x4”, mounted on 25mm wide rims. Unfortunately, the fork would not clear the front tire, so I had to reinstall the 100mm spaced Pugsley fork. I really prefer the look of the shorter, curved, legs of the Origin8 fork, but sometimes you just have to go with what works. 

Next up: What I Did on Summer Vacation, Part 1

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Bicycle Therapy - Part 3 Jon In Wonderland

Or, How I rode a 2008 Surly 1x1 Straight Into Obsession.

As I mentioned, in the last post, once I had the Surly rideable, I was hooked. I wanted to make it usable for me, and paramount to that was lowering the standover height. Two things came to mind, in that regard: wheels and fork.

I figured that if I actually ran 26" wheels, which the frame was built for, that would lower the top tube somewhat. And, the Pugsley fork is a straight-blade, suspension-corrected version. The frame originally came with a non-suspension-corrected fork with curved blades.

So, I set out to find a suitable fork, but it had to be affordable. So, no actual Surly fork (people tend to be proud of them, price-wise), nor anything custom.

The answer came in the form of an Origin 8 fork, which is a near carbon copy of the original Surly unit. 

The sharp-eyed amongst you will notice that the disc brake tab on the Origin 8 is shaped slightly differently. The legs are near-identical, much more so than the photos show. (Origin 8 photo from Amazon, Surly photo from City Bikes)

So, I ordered the O-8 fork, and some 26x3 tires, identical to the tires that I use on my Mongoose Beast, along with some used Avid BB-7 Calipers and some Avid brake levers. Once they arrived, I put them on the bike:

I even stuck some Surly decals on the fork. (I also left the Origin-8 decals on the side. It's more of an homage than a counterfeit, in my mind.)

The fork looked great, and did lower the top tube quite a bit, even with the 3" tire. I didn't have a 26" wheel to use on the back, so I was searching, even as I installed the front wheel and the fork.

I had 26" wheels, but I was looking for a wheel with an Alfine 8 internally-geared hub. They are rare as hen's teeth, pre-built, but I was really hoping to find one, since built wheels often cost less than the retail cost of the parts. But, I really wanted that hub because I wanted to build this 1x1 up as my new bike-packing rig. I already have enough single speeds!

Then, it happened; I found a used Afline 8 wheel, 26" rim on eBay for the equivalent cost of a new Alfine hub. I hit the Buy It Now button, and sat back to wait on its arrival.

A week later, the wheel arrived and, when I went to install the tire ... I found that it was actually a 24" rim! Oh, man! I misread the listing. 

So, I calculated spoke sizes, ordered spokes and nipples, and looked around the shop for a wheel I could pull the rim off of. Then, I happened to look at something else on eBay, and opened up my list of items I had ordered.

Shit. The listing specifically said my wheel had a 26" rim, and I just spent $90 on spokes and nipples!

I contacted the seller and, after I explained the situation, he refunded me the $90 it had cost me for the spokes and nipples. I already had a rim, so I was happy with that.

But, I still had not hit the bottom of the rabbit hole.

I was looking at pictures of the 1x1, when I saw a photo of the limited edition 1x1=11 Anniversary Edition. That bike came with 24" wheels , with 60mm rims, and 3" tires. I figured that a 4" would run in the frame, on my 25mm (internal) rim, so I ordered a tire. Then, I found another tire which would deliver more quickly, so I cancelled the first tire, and ordered the two-day delivery tire.

Once the tire arrived, I mounted it up, and installed the wheel:

I installed the hub into the track-style ends on the frame using the anti-rotation washer for vertical dropouts. This points the cable stop up along the seat stay, which allows the cable to run along the top tube (my preference). I hooked the cable up along the opposite side of the hub than how it is intended, which reversed the action on the shifter. 

The Alfine shifters are low-normal, as opposed to the old-school shifters which are high-normal. In plain English, the Alfine shifters are backward to what I am used to, and this made it "normal".

I wish I could claim to have figured that little modification out, but I read about it on a guy's blog, recently.

The 24x4" tire has a rolling diameter about a quarter-inch larger than a 26x2.2 tire, so the bottom bracket is not lowered. The front 26x3.0 is another quarter-inch bigger than that.

So, the bike is finished. Built. Ready to ride ... right?

Stay tuned. The rabbit hole goes even deeper. Believe it, or not...


Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Bicycle Therapy - Part 2

As I mentioned in the last post, one of the things I am striving toward is to have non-aluminum frames for all of the bikes I can (titanium and steel, to be precise ... not too interested in plastic frames and forks, any more).

The bike I had built up for the COG 100 race was based on my old aluminum Bikes Direct "Motobecane" 29er frame. It is a worthy frame, and it rides very nicely. But, it is aluminum, so I started looking for a replacement.

I found it in the form of a circa 2009 Redline Monocog frame and fork on the Bay of e. I ordered it up and, when it arrived, I swapped the parts over from the "Motobecane". (I put that in quotes because BD simply owns the rights to that name, and it has nothing to do with the French company from the past.)

The dimensions of the Monocog are a close match to the "Moto", and the ride is very similar, as well.

Aesthetically, it is head and shoulders above the "Moto", in my eyes. 

One of the good things about both of the frames is that, if I so desire, I can swap the tires out and transform the bike into a single-speed 29er mtb. But, for now, it remains a gravel/long distance rig.

As an aside, I am thinking of trimming down the front extensions on both of my Velo Orange Crazy Bars handlebars (I have one on both this bike and my single-speed fat bike). I don't do anything with them that requires the length, and they are unwieldy, to me, at times...

The Crazy Bar is a 666mm wide bar with a 45-degree sweep, just like the Surly Open bar. It just doesn't have the forward bend from the stem, like the Surly, which makes it easier to mount lights, and other accessories. The feel is near-identical.

Those are my two favorite bars, right now.

Anyway, back to bike building:

As I was working on the Monocog, I kept hitting my head on the Surly frame, which was hanging on the crank of another bike on the shop. I had a guy messaging me about buying the Surly, but he was kinda driving me nuts by asking me question after question, the answers to most of which are available on the Surly website if you just look.

Finally, I simply messaged him that the frame was no longer available, and removed my listing from FB marketplace. I decided that I would build the frame up with whatever random parts I had lying about, and then I might try to sell the whole bike, locally.

Little did I know the rabbit hole I was heading down, with the 1x1...

 I built the frame up with 27.5 wheels shod with a 2.8 tire in the rear and a 3 in the front (the frame would not clear a 3" tire, between the chain stays). The crank is an old XT Octalink set complete with Deore rat-trap pedals, Surly Open Bars, the Pugsley 100 fork, random seat and really cheap Chinese disc brakes and levers. Ergon grips give you something to grab onto.

The standover height problem was still there, with the 27.5 Plus tires (even on 23mm internal width rims), and the brakes were pretty poor; wooden feeling and not very powerful. (Of course, in their defense, the pads were brand-new and not broken in.)

Of course, since I was using the Pugsley fork, that meant I had the option of running the 26x4 tire on the front, as well.

I made the mistake of riding the 1x1 a few times, and any plan of selling it went by the wayside. Despite the tall standover, this has always been one of my favorite frames to ride. I decided to upgrade the brakes, and maybe do some other things to make it better suited to my use.

Aaaand ... that's when I went down the proverbial rabbit-hole.

Next post: Bicycle Therapy - Part 3    Jon In Wonderland


Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Bicycle Therapy - Part 1

Since my last post, I have been through some wellness issues which kept me down (both physically and emotionally) for a bit. There was a period of a couple of weeks when I was told by my doctor to stay off of the bike. I missed the COG 100 bike race (which was epically difficult, due to the weather), and I just generally was not happy.

So, as I sometimes do, I kept my hands busy to keep my brain occupied with something other than my woes. In other words, I have built a bunch of bikes, since I last checked in. So, I thought I'd post up what I've been doing.

I'll break it up into a few posts, so you don't get bored with one big post.

First, I finally built up my 1989 DiamondBack Formula One frame. I have none of the original parts, so it is not a restoration, by any means. But, it is a hoot to ride, and doesn't take up a lot of room in the house, so it is my "convenient bike", for just jumping on and running a quick errand.

Since I built it up, I have added a seat bag with some tools and a flat kit, plus a frame bag for slightly larger items.

 I have a nicer fork in the shop building, waiting to be installed. It's not installed yet, because I have been really busy, since that fork arrived, trying to straighten up the building and weed out the stuff I don't need. But, that's another post for another day...

I love the Brooks Cambium saddles. I have them on five bikes, now!

This is the third F1 bike I have owned. The first was a 1988 DiamondBack, which I built up as a pretty weird road bike, 17 or 18 years ago. Shawn B ended up with that one.

The second was a Rockfish frame which I converted to track ends and built up as a fixed gear. I sold it, and immediately regretted that. (If you bought that bike and are reading this, I would gladly buy it back, btw.)

As I was working on this bike, I kept looking at my other bikes and thinking of changes which needed to be made. One big change was to my fat-front studded tired fixed gear commuter.

This was an aluminum cruiser frame which I had gotten to replace the Surly 1x1 frame I had used for a couple of years as my fat-front winter bike. The Surly frame is a Large, and I have negative standover clearance on it, with the fat tire mounted to the suspension-corrected Pugsley 100 fork. So, I got this frame, thinking it would alleviate the standover height problem, and work well enough to suit me.

It did both, but I really couldn't stand the looks of it. Plus, the frame is aluminum, and I am moving away from aluminum frames, as I get the opportunity. So, I searched around, for a week or so, and finally found an older cro-mo GT Ruckus single speed mtb frame on eBay at an affordable price. I nabbed it and, when I built it, I used my Ritchey cro-mo fat fork on it. The color was a close match, between the fork and frame, and I liked the fork, anyway.

The Ritchey fork has the 135mm hub spacing, and I had a wheel I had built up to use in it. The wheel has a Shimano rear hub in it, to fit the dropouts. But, that provided me with a challenge in mounting a cyclometer to the bike.

The freehub body on the wheel puts the fork leg quite far from the spokes. So, I was trying to figure out how to space the bike computer pickup out from the fork leg, to get it close enough to the spoke magnet. Finally, I realized that I was going about it all wrong.

Instead of spacing the pickup out to the magnet, I ended up spacing the magnet out to the pickup. I installed a single-speed kit on the hub, then mounted the magnet to the cog. A couple of zip ties keep the cog from spinning, and everything works as it should.

The new frame fits, and looks really good (to me, anyway), including the "matching" fork.

The cruiser frame went back into the box it arrived in, and I suppose I will try to sell it, eventually.

Next up: More steel in the quiver!


Monday, March 18, 2019

Sometimes Things Don't Work Out

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been under the weather for a couple of weeks. Due to that, I pulled out of the COG-100 race.

I am very disappointed, even a bit angry that health problems have forced me to drop out. Getting old sucks, for sure, but being unhealthy sucks even more.

And now, on top of a sinus infection that kept me down for two weeks, I find out that I have a problem with my left eye (Iritis, or Anterior Uveitis if you want the posh name) which prohibits riding a bike until it's cleared up...

Not happy.


Saturday, March 09, 2019

No Training This Weekend

Last weekend was a bit of a mixed bag, weather-wise. I got out for a good solid 70-mile ride on Friday, under sunny (but windy) conditions. Then, on Sunday, I rode in this:

Sunday was a bit chilly, with the temperature at 5 degrees F when I left the house and only warming up to 9 degrees F by the time I rolled home. That's kinda how the weather has been all year, so I wasn't too surprised. But, I am getting tired of it.

This weekend, it has been sunny, with highs in the 50s and ... I am sick as a dog and can't ride my bike, at all. I came down with something on Monday, and I've done nothing but go to work, and then go to bed almost as soon as I get home, since then. I left early a couple of days, and took 6-hour naps before I got  up for an hour prior to going to bed for the night.

Not a lot of fitness improvement going on, but I did lose 6 pounds because I keep forgetting to eat, due to having no appetite.

The COG 100 is three weeks from today. I was feeling better about my chances of actually finishing, after my last week's training rides. I'm hoping this isn't pushing me backwards...