A Failed Experiment

A couple of weeks ago, when I got it into my head to change the handlebars on the Devil for better winter use (read: flat bars that are easier to use with mittens or pogies), I also got it into my head to try to change as few components as possible.

In this case, that meant re-using the 26.0mm Velo Orange stem, the 8psd shifter on a Paul Thumbie, and the Tektro brake levers. In fact, the entire notion grew out of the fact that I was simply too lazy to re-cable the brakes (though ironically, the entire thing took more time and effort because I had to spend nearly an hour getting all of the old Newbaum’s bar tape off both sides of the bar so that I could remove the brake levers without uncoupling them).

As such, I ended up with a real oddity of a bar-lever-shifter setup: road levers on a flat bar without much sweep and a shifter mounted near the stem. A real experiment in parts incompatibility and user experience, you might say.

Rode the Devil, stopped on a bridge.

Rode the Devil, stopped on a bridge.

After riding the Devil this way for more than a week, I can confidently say–as of today–that the experiment has failed.

  • The brake levers are simply too close to the bar. Moving them further around the curve helped a little, but not nearly enough. It’s passable with gloves, but a real hazard with mittens.
  • The shifter is too far from where my hands are on the bars (unlike with drop bars riding on the tops). Consequently, I’ve been riding in faux single-speed mode (pick a gear, don’t shift) for most of the time.
  • And the pogies don’t really fit at all.

It was an interesting experiment, but not one that I care to continue, lest I end up on the deck because my mitten is caught behind the brake lever and unable to squeeze it.

The Aether Demon

After a number of years of good service from a trio of PDW Radbot¬†taillights, we’ve made the jump into the 21st century (namely, USB charging) with a new pair of PDW Aether Demons. The Radbots will be assigned to backup duty, and used as loaners.

As usual, I mount them by drilling out the clip part of the mount to accept a bolt (instead of the little screw that they use) set it up with a couple of washers and a spacer on whatever braze-on is most convenient–usually one of the eyelets at the rear dropout (to keep the light low and out of the way of my baggage).

Another Winter Project: Troll

A few years ago, I bought a second, new Pugsley frame; it was bright yellow. After not getting around to building it up for a year or so, I was taken with the idea that I only really needed one fat-bike (silly me).

A couple of years ago, when Earl from Revolution was looking for a second Pugsley (mustard to complement the ketchup) and offered to trade for another Surly frameset, I took him up on it and went for a new, black Surly Troll. I had Revolution install a green Chris King headset and brought it home.

And then it hung in the shop for at least another full year, while I tried to figure out what to do with it. At one point, I removed all of the decals, leaving only the head badge. Later, I even considered selling the frame, fork, seat collar, and headset and posted it on CL. No interest though, so it went back on the hook for a while.

Clearly, I now have no choice but to build this frame up and use it for something. As often happens in situations like this, I get it into my head that I should do something interesting. After having heard that it was possible to build a 26″ Surly Long Haul Trucker with 650b wheels while still using rim brakes, I figured I could do the same with the Troll.

I bought a second set of Velo Orange 650b wheels (in addition to the ones on the Polyvalent), found some nice wide tires, and set to work digging the rest of the parts–some new, some used–from the bins. It’s now partially built–needing only that I decide which cockpit setup, gearing, and racks I’ll use for what will become a both an everyday utility bike and something for rough roads and bikepacking.

Another winter project, another bike that will be ready for riding come spring.

A Winter Project: JYD

Shortly after they were announced, I ordered an All-City JYD and took delivery (after the LBS had installed the headset) just in time for the city to start salting the roads.

So instead of building it up immediately–I’d had all of the parts waiting since late summer–it became yet another winter project (along with the Troll and a few other small things).


Photo courtesy of (i.e., lifted from) the AC website.

I’ve made a little progress (keeping the winter bikes running and relatively clean seems to take up the bulk of my bike fiddling time these days), but I’ve finally gotten around to making a specification for it.

It will–without a doubt–be done and ready to ride as soon as the salt is gone from the roads in the spring. I promise.

Surprise Snow

I’m not sure whether the weather forecast got it wrong, or I just didn’t notice when it got it right, but we awoke (thanks to the snow plow hitting the speed hump in front of our house) this morning to fresh snow.

Rode the Devil, stopped on a bridge.

It’s not a lot, but at least everything is white now, instead of a melange of brown, gray, and dirty. And the studded tires are quiet.

Teach the Children

You, who are on the road must have a code that you can live by…
Teach your children well…

-Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

Yesterday, my sister-in-law texted to let me know that¬†my nephew had taken it into his head to decorate his bedroom with a bicycle-related theme. She’d wanted to know if I had any old rims or wheels that he could use as decorations. I don’t, since I donated my entire pile of trash-picked and clapped out wheels to the local bike co-op early last summer.

But I did still have some old bike posters from the 2002 Tour de France and there are always plenty of stickers.

2015-01-20 16.53.17

All the good stuff: fat-biking, winter cycling, hauling stuff, car-free-ness, and high end components (not pictured: a random collection of manufacturer and shop stickers).

And I suggested that they stop by the LBS and ask if they have any wheels, rims, or handlebars they are throwing away. It’s a bit of a long shot now that much of that stuff is recycled (either by a third-party or for artistic purposes), but they might come up with something interesting.

Start them off early, I say. And keep them riding.