Time for a little refreshment

Once again, I’m looking for a new frame.

It seems like I’ve done nothing over the past couple of years but buy new bicycles–and to some degree that’s true. The Soma ES, the Karate Monkey, the Pugsley, and the La Raza are all new (or new to me) within the last couple of years. This is mostly due to the fact that I spent a few years away from anything but purely utilitarian, transportation-related cycling. Commuting and running errands, and a good deal of that done either on the Azor Kruis or the Cannondale Fifty-Fifty Xtracycle.

During that period, I sold off a bunch of stuff that I wasn’t using (for reasons that I’ll not bore you with here). Now, it seems that I’m slowly buying it all back. And then some.

For the past year and a half, I’ve been commuting on one of three rigs: the Cannondale Fifty-Fifty (either single-speed or with it’s native Nexus 8spd IGH), the Kona Jake (running 40×16 fixed or free via an eccentric ENO), or a first-year Trek Clyde (42×20 single-speed with 2 inch studded tires in winter). None of these frames fit me particularly well–they are all a little small–and I have truly come to hate the Kona, even though (or perhaps because) I’ve been riding it one in configuration or another for the past 7 years. And now, it’s time for the Kona to be retired.  The fork is slightly twisted and the left-rear dropout has a hairline crack. Good riddance, I say.

So now I’m in the market for a replacement, and one that’s designed specifically for the type of cycling that encompasses most of my time (if not most of the mileage).

Requirements

My requirements for this frame are pretty simple–or at least limiting.

  • Horizontal or semi-horizontal dropouts or track fork ends (because it will be fixed or single and nothing else)
  • 130mm OLD rear spacing (so that I can use one of several wheels that I already own).
  • 700c wheels (and, because I already own several wheels).
  • Clearance for at least 35mm tires with fenders.
  • Braze-ons for fenders and bottle cages. A pump-peg would also be nice, but isn’t required.
  • Non-track geometry (because I’ll ride for commuting, for touring, for some errands, and perhaps the occasional brevet).
  • Mounts for either side-pulls or cantilevers. Disc mounts are ok, though it’s unlikely that I’ll use them.
  • Steel. I have no desire for aluminum anything these days, carbon isn’t durable enough, and titanium is unfortunately exceeds my budget.

Candidates

After a bit of research and bike gawking at recent events, here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  • Surly Cross-Check. The obvious choice, as the CC seems to be everyone’s top choice for all-around riding of all kinds.
  • Pake C’mute. A basic steel frame and fork with a slightly more relaxed geometry.
  • Salsa Casseroll. Salsa’s newly rando-ized frame set, that comes complete with front rack and matching stem. Very versatile, if a bit odd.
  • All-City Nature Boy & Nature Boy Zona. Two thorough-bred single-speed CX frames, though with a couple of drawbacks. The standard NB’s paintjob is kinda ugly and the NB Zona uses a BB30 pressfit bottom bracket.
  • Vassago Fisticuff. Monster-cross anyone? The Fisticuff seems very much like the bastard child of a Cross-Check and a Karate Monkey. Not sure what I think of that.
  • Rivendell SimpleOne. The new version of the now out-of-production Quickbeam. Probably exceeds the budget for this particular project–but I’ll be saving my pennies for one all the same.

Have I missed something? Are you riding something that meets my requirements that I should consider? Have something to say about one of these because you ride it all of the time and love it?

Let me know in the comments. I’d like to get this squared away sometime in the next month–as I’ll be riding the Karate Monkey or the Pugsley to work until I get it figured out.

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