Oscillating levels of simplicity

On the way to work this morning, the Pugsley and I had a little accident–most likely due to one setup issue or another (and almost certainly my own damned fault)–and it’s gotten me thinking about one of the reasons that I prefer to own, maintain, and ride simple bikes with one gear (and therefore many speeds) and well-tested components.

green sine
I am stuck in this...

I’ll write up the Pugsley’s mishap and it’s after-effects in a separate post. For the purposes here, let’s just say that horizontal fork-ends, disc-brakes, a quick-release rear wheel, and a homemade fender do not necessarily work together. In this case, these factors combined to create the perfect storm. End result: a bent disc rotor, a completely ruined rear fender, a skinned knee, a multi-modal commute (bike, ped, and bus) and further diminution of my dignity.

This has all gotten me thinking once again that I’ve let things get too complicated–for me and the kind of riding that I do. Not too long ago, I wrote a manifesto (left unpublished, as all good manifestos are) that laid out the principles of simplicity with which I wanted (and still want) to approach my cycling life.

sine wave then square wave using histogram display
I'm shooting for this...

Re-reading it now–at the remove of a couple of months–I find that among other things, it encourages singularity and simplicity–especially in the drivetrain and the braking systems–of the bicycles in the fleet. Multi-gear setups are discouraged. Disc brakes are eschewed in favor of side-pulls and cantilevers. According to my manifesto-writing former self, this allows me to keep the ratio of riding to wrenching in proper balance. That is, at about 20:1 or greater.

The bottom line

The question remains what I should do with the Pugsley, once I’ve hunted up a T25 torx wrench, removed the damaged rotor, and hobbled home with only a front brake. If I’m not going to end up in a variation of right where I am now, I’m left with two options:

  • Simplify the Pugsley with cantilever brakes, a single-speed drivetrain, and perhaps coroplast fenders mounted to breakaway stays. More work in the near term, but a great deal more trouble-free riding in the future–assuming a not-so-light fat bike lends itself to single-speeding at all.
  • Repair the Pugsley and sell it on to someone who’s better suited to its components and its style of riding. A more radical form of simplification, you might say.
Anyone interested in a slightly used 2010 Pugsley with a brand-new rear disc rotor and a fresh shop-tuning? I’ll throw in a pair of Crank Brothers 50/50 pedals for a sweetener.

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