Been a long time since I rock and rolled, mmm-mmm

Hello poetry lovers. I haven’t blogged in a blue moon, but since there actually was one a couple of nights ago, it’s time!

So much is new… let’s start with the bike:

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It’s a 23″ Carver Gnarvester. I pirated the 29+ wheels that Mike C built for my Pugsley and re-laced them to some hope hubs. Running Sram’s cheapest 11 speed (X0?). Cable discs of course, but not the old standby! Using TRP Spykes which beat the old BB7s hands down. With carbon fork, the bike comes in at about 29 pounds.

Turns out my surly frame bag fits passably. I’ve chucked the anything cages, they were too fragile. But I am trying out the Blackburn cargo cage on my down tube. My tent fits under there! (Except poles, which are in the frame bag.) The old Viscasha holds my clothing. The top tube bag is a new addition. It was made by Greg Wheelwright in my home town of boulder. Check out his stuff, it’s top-tier.

More to come…

Knard-ly

I aired up the Knards yesterday but not before weighing them. FWIW, one weighed 966g and the other, 1000g. At first this seemed like a huge variation but as a percentage of total weight it’s only about 3%.

Started looking online for a “lightweight” spare tire to carry on tour this summer. I know, everybody is going to tell me not to carry a spare, but since I’m touring solo it would be a real drag to destroy a tire 50 miles from anywhere, alone (and the sidewalls on the 120tpi Knard are mighty thin!). It looks 29×2.4 tires are 800g+, so I am either going to bite the bullet and carry a spare Knard, or else carry something much lighter (like a Schwalbe Racing Ralph @628g), that I’ll never use except in dire emergencies.

I was going to try to ride the new hoops this weekend but I don’t have disc rotors yet. I thought about pulling the rotors off the LM wheels but the prospect of moving rotors around does not appeal to me — when I’ve tried to do so in the past I end up with rotors that aren’t flat. So I’m just going to wait until Wednesday, when my new rotors are supposed to arrive. Will change the pads at the same time, as they are really needing it! Stay tuned…

Psyched!!

Well, lots of activity around here lately. My ex is taking the kids on a 2-week trip right after July 4th, so that gives me two weeks to hit the Divide! I’m planning to drive from my home in Boulder, CO to Butte, MT. From there either I’ll ride north to Polebridge, circle back to Columbia Falls, and rent a car back to Butte, or else I’ll rent the car at the beginning and do the same route in the other direction. It would be somewhat easier to navigate the route N-S because that’s how the map narratives are set up. The advantage of going S-N is that if I find myself running short on time, it’s easy to cut the trip short. Would hate to have to rent a car twice, once at the beginning and once at the end. Still pondering that one.

Incidentally, I may have to change my blog name, because I might not be as “Phat” as originally planned :-). Just this very evening I received these bad-boy hoops from MikeC

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Yes, those are genuine Rabbit holes, laced offset for the Pugs, and folding Knards. MikeC is one of the only shops that has all these goodies in stock and ready to go!

I’m going to try these out for the next few weeks to see if I’d rather do the ride on these. I suspect the answer is going to be “yes”, but anything is possible. I’m anxious to see if these will roll as smoothly as the fat wheels. I haven’t weighed them yet, but I’m pretty certain I will save at least 2 pounds per wheel vs the LM/Larry donuts that I’m using right now!

I’ll report back after I’ve aired them up this weekend!

Cyber Monday

Hope everybody had a great turkey day (and black Friday)!

I just wanted to pass along a great deal that is going on through Monday, November 26. Bikewagon.com is offering 20% off everything (except complete bikes) using coupon code GTWS. And free shipping! I decided this was the opportune moment to pick up two items that I’ve been on the fence about for a long time: a Revelate Viscacha and a Surly MWOD chainring set.  I’ve been wanting to try the Viscacha for a long time but I could not see spending $135 for a seat bag. With 20% off of Bikewagon’s normal $122 price, it ended up costing me less than a Benjamin.  That I can handle.

Still waiting for some snow here on the front range of Colorado…

Salsa Anything Cage

After receiving my Salsa Anything cages, I scratched my head for awhile trying to figure out how to mount them on the Pugsley’s fork. I was intending to clamp them on with hose clamps, but I discovered that on the right (curved) fork blade, I couldn’t find any orientation of the cage that would put all three of the mounting holes in contact with the fork blade. I didn’t want to stress the cage unnecessarily, so I posted a question on mtbr.com in the fatbike forum to solicit ideas. A forum user named JR Z came up with this one: screw an old rack strap (the flat kind, with a 90 degree twist on the end) into the canti boss and the lower rack mount. A picture is definitely worth 1000 words, so here’s the result of my first try:

Salsa Anything Cage on rack strap

Mounting the Salsa Anything Cage on a rack strap attached to the cantilever boss and the lower rack mounting hole.

This shows the cage after I drilled the rack strap but before I put the two additional bolts into it.  Subsequently, I inserted the bolts through the cage holes and screwed them into locknuts on the back side of the strap.

You have to bend the strap a bit at the top where it connects to the canti boss, and drill out the hole to be large enough. I haven’t done the curved fork blade yet, but I expect that all that will be different is the the top end of the strap will have to be bent a bit more.

The mount seems really solid and you don’t have to scratch up the paint on your fork. If you don’t have any rack straps lying around, you can order them from Universal Cycles.

A big shout out to JR Z! 🙂

Gear thoughts

A few things I’ve tried lately, or am about to try.

First, I tried out a Vredestein Bull Lock tire as a “lite” alternative to the Surly tires.  The Bull Lock is billed as 26×2.35 but is widely (ha-ha) considered to be one of the fattest non-DH tires out there.  It airs up nice and plump on the Large Marge rim — close to 3″.  Here’s a photo of it on the Pugs, right next to my Stumpjumper with Cane Creek wheels.  Quite a difference those rims make!

Vredestein Bull Lock

The Vredestein Bull Lock 26×2.35 tire on the Large Marge rim and on a Cane Creek XC wheel.

The tire rode reasonably well on the Pugs.  The main problem with it was that it had a diameter of 27″ vs. 29″ for the Endomorph that it replaced.  This lowered my bottom bracket by about 3/4″.  I changed my seat angle to compensate, but I still felt like I was riding a Schwinn Sting-Ray at times, and I did strike a pedal once in a corner.  Plus, it just wasn’t as plush as the Surly rubber.  It wasn’t bad, but not what I was used to.

Having said all that, I think that this tire has a place as an emergency spare on a tour. It weighs half of what a Larry weighs and it’ll certainly get you to the next town competently enough.  Think of it as one of those 50-mile spares that you get with most compact cars nowadays.

(Note: OTOH, I really dislike this tire on my racing wheel.  It has a “lightbulb” cross section on this wheel because it is so much wider than the rim.  It flexes like crazy under cornering loads, and I’m afraid I’m going to rip it right off the rim if I get too aggressive.)

The next item I want to waste your time talking about is the innertube I used. Big deal right? Well, what if there were a fat tube that weighed half of what the Surly tube weighs? There is: it’s the Avenir 26×2.40-2.75 tube. I got it at my LBS. (Searching online, I can only find the schraeder version of it. When I search for “Avenir presta 2.75” I get lots of pages that claim to be selling it, but the picture is definitely nota picture of this tube.)

Comparison of a standard MTB tube, the Avenir 2.75, and the Surly tube.

The Avenir tube, when flattened, is nearly the width of the Surly, but it weighs 210g less.  This is a huge difference! Although I’m running tubeless, I still have to bring spare tubes on tour in case of a loss of tire pressure. (Can you imagine pumping up a tubeless Larry with a hand pump?) Two of these weigh a full pound less than two Surly tubes.

I’m running one with a Larry on my rear wheel right now to see if it holds up, and so far, so good. I will of course give it a good look-over when I remove it to put in the Stan’s sealant to make sure it isn’t getting ready to blow out.

On to gear that I haven’t tried yet but will any day now.  I’ve decided that to haul my stuff, I’m going to use a pair of Salsa Anything Cages on my front forks. I should be able to put my tent in one of them and my sleeping bag in the other. No, I don’t have a magic way to attach them, I’m going to use hose clamps even though it’s butt-ugly. Remember, I’m just doing a few short tours this summer. If I find that these are as great as everybody says they are, maybe I’ll spring the money to have bosses brazed onto my fork for next summer. I sure wish Surly would get with the program and offer an offset Pugs fork with the braze-ons already installed!

On the back, I’m going to install a Bontrager rack that I picked up at a LBS on sale. The rack itself it light, about 500g; the attachment hardware is a boat-anchorish 200g more! So I went to the hardware store and bought some P-clamps, which I will use to attach some lightweight rack stays that I pirated from another rack (total weight: about 60g). I realize you probably can’t visualize what I’m talking about, but I’ll post pictures once I get around to installing it.

On this rack, I’ll try to get all my clothing to fit into my 20L dry bag, otherwise I’ll have to use a set of panniers that I have lying around. You might think, 20L of clothing? What the hell? Well, the thing that I’m concerned about is a spare pair of shoes.  At size 15, they take up about one entire pannier, or most of the dry bag.

As an alternative to a spare pair of shoes, I might try to get by with my Keen Commuters as my sole (ha-ha) pair of shoes. Although they don’t feel quite as efficient as dedicated riding shoes, and they aren’t quite as comfortable to walk in as dedicated walking shoes, they do a reasonable job of both. In fact they’re by far the most comfortable riding shoes I’ve ever worn. I’d be leery of setting off on a through-ride of the GDMBR with nothing but these, but I think that they may be just the ticket for the shorter rides that I have planned this summer.  I may find that they are all that I need when I tackle the rest of the route.

Then of course, there’s the Revelate frame bag. I’ll be carrying a 4L water bag in here, along with food, tools, you know, the heavy stuff.  I am not planning to carry a water filter, as I think they’re a pain-in-the-ass. For dire emergencies I will use chlorine dioxide tablets. They’re cheap, they’re small, they weight nothing, and everybody thinks they’re great. The only thing they can’t do is get rid of sediment, so the water might look gross, but it will be safe to drink.

In addition, I just received a pair of Revelate mountain feedbags. I’m currently using them just for water bottles. I’d like to put a camera and other sundries like sunscreen in one of them, but I don’t know if I’ll have enough water capacity. We shall see.

One last thing, I have a Titec J-bar that I’m going to try out. I’m just waiting for some thumb shifters that I ordered to arrive ’cause grip shifts just won’t cut it on these babies.

New! Old Man Mountain racks for fat bikes

OMM is now making the Cold Springs front and rear racks specifically for the Pugsley and the Salsa Mukluk!  Unfortunately, a pair of these will set you back $320.

No published weights for these new racks yet but I sent an e-mail asking for that info.  Will post as soon as I hear something.

Update: well, the reply to my e-mail asking for weights was “1.5 pounds”.  This is disappointingly imprecise; I expected better.  However, I discovered that a different page on the OMM site lists the Cold Springs weight as 610 grams.  I’d imagine the Pugsley specific rack differs mainly in the attachment hardware, so this should be close to the truth.

Nitto M12 rack — a no-go

Well, i thought I had the perfect answer to how to carry a dry bag on the front of my bike without strapping it to the handlebars: the Nitto M12 front rack.

This little beauty attaches to the hole in the fork crown and the cantilever bosses, and weighs only 250 grams — that’s less than 9 ounces!

Well, the rack arrived today and unfortunately, there isn’t nearly enough clearance between the arms for a 3.8″ tire.  D’oh!  Why didn’t I see that coming?

Still, this seems clearly to be the right approach to carrying a light load on the front of the bike. All the other racks on the market are twice as heavy, and are way overbuilt for carrying a 5-10 pound load. There is a shop here in town whose owner does his own TIG welding, and I’m going to see if he’s interested in taking on a project like this.

Review: Revelate Tangle and Pugsley frame bag

Last summer, after I built up my Pugsley, I knew right away that I needed a frame bag for it because I couldn’t fit the damn spare tube in my seat bag! Since I needed a solution “yesterday”, I couldn’t order a custom full-frame bag. I settled for a Tangle, Revelate’s stock, rectangular bag that only occupies part of the main triangle.  I ordered the largest size, of course, and it fit well, leaving enough room in my giant main triangle for a full-size water bottle or two.

Revelate Tangle on the Pugs.

The Tangle bag by Revelate. The Pugs likes to be photographed in front of my F-250 because it makes it feel petite.

The Tangle has a full length zipper on the right side to access the main compartment, and a second full-length zipper on the left side that accesses a flat accessory pocket.  Both pockets are lined with a bright yellow fabric to improve visibility. The main compartment  is exactly the right size and shape to hold a hydration bladder (although I never used it that way), and you can put wallet, cell phone, etc in the flat pocket. All in all, well worth the money.

With the recent release of the Revelate-Surly co-branded Pugsley frame bag, I felt it was time to upgrade.  I was quite frustrated in my inability to find any details of this bag online. Now that I’ve received mine, I thought others considering this purchase would like to know some details, so read on.

First, here’s a comparison of the full-frame bag to the Tangle.

The full-frame bag compared to the Tangle.

Large Revelate Tangle (top) compared to the 22" Revelate Pugsley bag (bottom).

Of course the full-frame bag has a larger face area, but the real story is in the bag’s depth:

Bottom view of Pugsley bag (left) and Tangle (right).

Both bags start out about 2.5-3″ wide, but the full-frame bag fattens out to nearly 6″ at the head tube! Also note the wear strip on the down-tube-facing edge of the full-frame bag; a nice detail.  Here’s the top view:

Top view of Pugsley bag (left) and Tangle (right). My, what big Velcro you have, Grandma!

I estimated the volume of the full-frame bag to be about 8.5 liters by pretending it was a perfect triangle with a uniform 3″ depth.  Obviously, this is an under-estimate, and it’s probably closer to 10 liters.

Here it is mounted up.  Looks sharp, doesn’t it?  Check out the combined Revelate/Surly logo.

Full-frame bag on the bike. Full length zipper to access main compartment. (Click on the photo for a full-resolution image.)

Man, that’s a lot of Velcro! That stuff is really sticky, it took several minutes to peel all of it open before I could mount the bag.

Notice the single full-length zipper to access the main compartment.  The main compartment has a vertical Velcro divider, and also a little pocket at the front for a cell phone or camera.  As usual, the interior of the bag is yellow for better visibility of contents — another nice detail.

Main compartment of full-frame bag.

The one weakness of the bag, if it can be called that, is that the left side’s flat pocket is not rectangular and full-length as it is on the Tangle.  Instead, it is triangular-shaped; it shares one seam with the internal vertical divider of the main pocket.

Accessory pocket on the left side of the frame bag.

This might not seem like a big deal but I’m used to the full-length, rectangular accessory  pocket of the Tangle.  This pocket is very deep and comes to a point at the bottom, so it’s not really as usable for small items as the Tangle’s pocket.  If I’d never used the Tangle I’d probably not have noticed this.

I took the bag for a spin and there were no bad surprises.  It fits the bike like a glove and you don’t even know it’s there while you’re riding.  I packed the following items into the bag for my test ride and had room to spare:

  • Rain jacket
  • Spare Toob and pump
  • Tool bag
  • Small tupperware of snacks
  • Wind vest
  • Wallet, phone, sunglasses (it wasn’t a very sunny day so I wasn’t wearing them), garage door opener
  • Meiser dial-type pressure gauge

The one unpleasant surprise I had during my ride concerned my relocated water bottle.  Since the bag fills the entire main triangle, you have to find somewhere else to put it!  I could have put the bottle inside the bag but I wanted to try out the TwoFish Quick Cage bottle cage adapter on my fork blade:

TwoFish Quick Cage bottle cage adapter on the Pugsley fork.

In a word, FAIL. The strap cannot be pulled tight enough to prevent the cage from rotating around the tube to wherever it feels like pointing.  I tried it on the back of my seatpost (yes, I actually have room for a full water bottle back there), and although it stayed put a little longer than on the fork blade, eventually it started wandering around there too.  I can’t recommend the TwoFish Quick Cage at all.  I know I could carry a camelback, but I really don’t want to.  I don’t mind it for a short day-ride, but day after day on the GDMBR, it’s going to get old.   I guess I’ll have to try a band-clamp style cage adapter.

So all in all, is the full-frame bag worth the extra money? ($135 vs. $75) The Tangle is a great bag, it will hold just about anything you need it to on a day ride, but for doing a long tour you want all the volume you can get.  Now that the Pugsley full-frame bags are a non-custom item, the price differential is very reasonable. Keep in mind, however, that you will have to find someplace to relocate your water bottle(s).