Self-Steer and Some Options

Some people say that self-steer doesn’t really exist–or at least that it never seems to happen to them. To those people, I say this: ride a Vee Rubber Mission with less than about 12psi.

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Above: the Necro-Pug wearing a 120tpi Larry in the rear and a 60tpi Vee Rubber Mission in the front (with a symmetrical fork).

At 12-13psi, the Mission pulls noticeably, but not badly. At anything below about 7psi, it pulls in a rather dangerous sort of way, unless I’m riding on soft snow–which I try not to do, because they aren’t great snow tires, at all.

As such, I’m thinking about changing to something else. But what should I use? Surly Knards? Vee Rubber Vee8s? Something else?

Basically, I’m looking for something with a less-aggressive tread for non-winter riding on pavement, gravel, and non-technical single- and double-track. An all-rounder, if you will.


SOLD: Ortlieb Front Roller Panniers

Update: Sold on March 25, 2015.

Besides riding around in the warm weather and its attendant grit and slop, I’ve been weeding through parts bins and trying to lighten the load a bit. Local sale or you pay shipping. Note: If it’s still listed here, it’s still for sale.

Ortlieb Front Roller Panniers
Black and black
25 liter capacity (pair)
Adjustable mounting system (as pictured below)
Used (very lightly for only a couple months), excellent condition.


$75/pair (plus shipping)

If you’re interested, drop me a line at s + v + wagner AT

Gearless Weekend

I just realized, when considering the weekend’s riding and wrenching, that no gears were involved. Just single-speeds. Because that’s the way we (prefer to) roll. Or something.

Saturday coffee outside. The way things have evolved, I don’t normally ride on Saturday morning, or really much during the rest of the day. It’s the day we use to run errands (which I do by bike), do chores around the homestead, and just relax. But it’s always felt odd not to be riding on a weekend day when I could be, in some way or another.

So I came up with the notion of a regular, fairly early, Saturday morning ride (inspired in some oblique way by the La Fleche). We’re still not sure what the final form of this ride will be–a regular road loop with a cafe stop or a bike path circumnavigation with coffee outside–or even whether it will have a final form. What we do know is that it will involve a couple of hours of riding with an early departure (8am for now, 7am when it gets warmer) and coffee.

This week, Nate and I rode the Capitol City Trail (CCT)/Arboretum loop and stopped to brew coffee outside about halfway through. I rode the SS Devil that’s now wearing a Surly front rack (not pictured below), a huge Wald basket, and a Rivendell ShopSack.

Saturday wrenching. The bulk of my wrenching this weekend was focused on getting my wife’s single-speed up and running, after being laid up for the winter. I had the rear wheel trued, added new-to-her VO metal fenders and a Daija rear rack, and modified the lower mounts on her panniers so that they use hooks instead of D-rings. But it would appear that I’m not done, as the bottom bracket or crankset is now making an annoying ticking noise. I’m betting on a loose chainring bolt, but I’ll probably pull the cranks and bottom bracket for a re-greasing anyway.

Sunday gravel. The weather turned colder overnight and we opted for fat-bikes instead of road bikes and the partially paved, partially gravel Badger State Trail (BST) instead of rolling country roads. I’d not yet ridden the Necro-Pug any significant distance since I’d swapped in the single-speed wheel, so I loaded it up and set out with Nate.

We were both feeling a little weary, for various reasons, and kept our pace reasonable. But it turns out that the saddle position and its relationship to the cockpit on the Necro-Pug is all wrong. By the time we were halfway to Belleville, my knees had started to ache, and I couldn’t get far enough behind the bottom bracket to both stretch out my legs further and take the pressure off my hands.

I know better than to put a Brooks B17 on a seatpost with no setback. Really, I do. This reminded me why. And my stiff knees are reminding me today.

By the time we made the turnaround and headed back to town, the snow flurries had started, the wind had picked up, and we were missing our fast, easy-rolling road bikes.

After that, it was time for a shower beer, another beer, and some couch time with the old lady dog.

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More Devilry

As I mentioned the other day, I spent a little time over the weekend putting the Devil back in trim for non-winter riding.

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Gone are the winter wheels, the derailleur, and the oddly-mounted shifter. I also ditched the rear rack and the Nitto QR saddlebag mount. But most importantly, no studded tires.

Instead, it’s now single-speed (a mellow 39x16t) using a pair of bright blue Surly/Aerohead wheels wearing Clement USH 35mm tires. Jones Bend bars (660mm, silver) with Tektro levers, thick bartape grips, and a SpurCycle bell (silver).

But the biggest change is the front rack and basket: a Nitto Mark’s rack with a large Wald basket, a Rivendell Sackville ShopSack, a cargo net, and a pair of Sea-to-Summit straps.

It’s not perfect yet, but it’s getting there.

In particular, I’m not quite happy with the flexy, bounciness of the Wald basket, even with the straps helping suspend the basket from the handlebar (in the typical Rivendell fashion). It seems clear that the basket is just too big for such a small rack.

Since I want something more solid, I’ll try it with a Surly front rack, which is both wider and deeper (and will also allow me to carry panniers). If that doesn’t work, I’ll use a smaller basket, or perhaps reinforce the larger one with a wooden deck.

The stem is probably also too short, but that’s a quick swap the next time it’s in the shop.

While you were training…

It seems that spring-ish weather has hit many places across the country (or continued in places that don’t seem to have much in the way of winter to begin with), so the internet is abuzz with many a fellow cyclist out “training” for something.

Since I don’t have any definite racing/event plans for this spring (perhaps you’ll hear why later, if all goes well), I did what no self-respecting cyclist does on the first day sunny day in the mid-40s in March.

That’s right, I spent nearly the entire day in my windowless, subterranean bike cave, catching up on maintenance and suchlike.

Over the course of about 6 hours, I managed to:

  • Convert the Devil back to single-speed (getting rid of the studded tires in the process), remove the rear rack, and mount a front rack and basket.
  • Install a smaller (16t instead of 19t) freewheel on my wife’s single-speed winter mutt.
  • Install a new front rack on my wife’s Soma Saga (in part because I needed the one it had for the Devil). But this one also fits better.
  • Set up a single-speed rear wheel for the Necro-Pug so that it can go back and forth between fixed and single.
  • Fix the mounting of the front fender on the Polyvalent so that it’s hard-mounted to the underside of the porteur rack
  • Drink three bottles of Tyranena Fatal Attraction Imperial Black IPA.
  • Donate an ounce or so of blood to the bike shop gods.

All of which means I’m about halfway through my project list. Photos forthcoming.