Thursday, May 23, 2013

Nice Night for a Ride

With the weather that we have over the course of the bulk of this week, it is safe to say that any night that doesn't involve rain is a nice night for a ride. It seems that after having incredible drought for most of the spring thus far, the faucet has been turned on and we are now in a pattern of rain, at least for this week that is.

It was just last week in fact that I was lamenting having absolutely no collected rain water in my new rain barrel, meaning I had to use tap water for irrigation of the crops, aka our three small raised beds. Feast or famine it seems and for now my rain barrel runneth over. In fact it nearly flooded the walkout with its runoff. I guess that I should have paid more attention to the overflow downspout placement.

I spent much of yesterday afternoon putting together the new single speed MTB. Really, it is just a new Kona Big Unit frame that Brian and the folks at JRA Cycles hooked me up with. Additionally I bought a new Fox Float RL 29er fork and Cane Creek headset with the remaining parts coming from the old and slightly tired Soul Cycles Dillinger. I've really enjoyed the Dillinger and have spent many many hours aboard it on the trails. The SS MTB is by far the MTB most often ridden by me and it even saw some limited race action this year.Anyhow, the Dillinger was always a little on the short side and has also started to develop a crack at the back of the slot for the seatpost clamp on the seat tube. Common problem that has happened to nearly every hardtail MTB I've ever owned.

It always amazes me at how slightly dissimilar bicycle parts are and just how many standards there are, or are not depending on how you look at it. Take for example the new Fox Float RL I just got. First, when the heck did forks get so expensive? I realize that I haven't purchased a new suspension for in some time but wow are they expensive. I found a "deal" on this Float, which had the desired tapered steerer tube so went for it. I was running a F29 RLC on the Dillinger, both of which were 100mm travel and both of which had 32mm stantions so I figured I'd just swamp the damper out and upgrade my new shock.

Wrong, though the thread pitch on the cartridge cap that threads into the stantion is the same the diameter is 15/1000" different between the two with the new fork stantion ID being slightly narrower. Of course I figured that out after I'd put the old F29 RLC completely back together with the RL cartridge, which fit fine because the stantion was slightly bigger than the cap. I'd also gotten the new fork together with the old cartridge, which I'd made sure did start to thread in a turn, including the oil. Anyhow, lots shock oil and swearing flew everywhere as I tried and tried to get it to work before breaking out the caliper to measure.

I gave up and swapped back to the stock fork, cleaning all of the messes as I went. From there the rest was pretty straight forward. The tires I used, which are not tubeless specific, didn't want to hold air all that well and still don't, but that is par for the course using tubeless. Enough sealant and maybe some glitter and I should be set. The headset is a pretty nice annodized red Cane Creek Frustrum XX Z-3 zero stack inset which I scored off Ebay for $25 shipped. The sealed bearings are junk but unless you buy a Chris King, they all are from my experience. regardless, it went in smooth and seems good for now. The tapered steerer combined with a 15mm through axle makes for a nice stiff front end, perfect for the rigors of the SS.

So, more on the important part, the frame. It's a new Kona Big Unit which is a Scandium single speed  specific 29er that uses sliding dropouts in the rear to provide chain tension. This was the biggest draw to the frame, the sliding dropouts. I've used lots of different designs and these seem like the best bet by far, if of course they stay in place. The interface seems really beefy and it uses set bolts as well to held the dropouts in place. I bolted my Shimano XT crank/BB across from the Dillinger and threw on a set of Mavic Crossmax 29er wheels that had been on Cathy's SS but I stole for their 15mm axle interchangeability. In exchange my beloved Shimano 29er wheel system went to her bike along with the mounted Specialized Sworks Captain tires all set up tubeless, which I also liked greatly.

The result was a darn nice bike that while not a flyweight is no pig either. The bike exudes an air of beefiness though with the oversized tubing ovalized here and hydro-formed there. The head tube is massive as well as the longest 29er head tube I've seen. That coupled with the fact that I had a new fork with long steerer tube meant that I could run a stack of headset spacers and get away with a zero rise stem and flat bars. For the bars I used the Truvativ Noir carbon flat bars that came on my Scalpel and the old staple Thompson 120mm x zero rise stem that I've had since 2008. The post is a matching Thompson Elite layback with a Sella Italia Flite atop it. For gearing I'm still running the 32 x 18 with a Surly SS ring and Gussett steel cog with spacer kit, though I have a 34 tooth Surly on order which I plan to pair with a 19 tooth ring. This should yield some better ratios with the various cogs that I have in the stash.

Getting to the point of this post, last night wasn't raining, yet, so Cathy and I went out for a nice easy spin on the SS MTBs. This is a rest week, a legit rest week, the first that I have taken since I can't even remember when. That means nothing but short easy rides with no load and no stress. We started on the rail trail, then spun into Lexington on the bike path, then hit some connector trails and conservation lands. On the way back I decided to cut through the PR and see how the bike felt. Cathy led and we meandered around the woods taking things nice and easy. It was a great ride and the trails were in very good conditions. The bike worked perfectly and felt very comfortable. The short chainstays, steep head angle and stiff front end made for a very quick and responsive ride. I like it a lot and suspect that the more I ride the bike, the more that I will appreciate it.

Thank you for the excellent ride Cathy and thank you Brian for the help with the frame. I really appreciate it.

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