Saturday, 26 February 2011

Cullmination and realisation

Today I saw the first pics from the 2011 National Handbuilt Bicycle Show and the lovingly crafted bike and accessories, all finished in immaculate paint and detail that builders have made to show off their skills.

And it left me cold.

Those of you with long memories will remember that Solitude Cycles was a no-frills (mostly!) business I ran with focus on fit and function. Yes I built a bike with polished stainless lugs because the Frame Builder Mafia would have taken me out otherwise (and Matt wanted it!) Yes there was the odd fancy paint job and nice touches but at the end of the day the frames were more like a nicely refurbished 90series Landy than a Porche Cayenne from pimp-my-ride.

This ties in with my love for the Surly CrossCheck which seems to do pretty much everything I have asked of it although the high-rise stem may have to go back on as the 15deg Thomson could be a little low....I need more miles to check! It is a versatile frame made in a wide range of sizes and even a choice of colours for not too much money. Sure a Rivendell would be nice, or maybe a custom IF or Seven but for the extra cash you would want a real improvement in function and then you would be scared to lock it up incase it a) got stolen or b) scratched.

The last post from Joe about his lost Surly LHT also brought this in to sharp focus: What would happen if your bike was stolen / lost / written off in a freak accident with a Buffalo? For an off the peg frame a quick call to your LBS or 10mins on line should have a new frame and fork on its way. Parts would be easy to pick up in this cross-boarder bike parts purchasing world we now live in. I would wager that with in a couple of weeks and for not that much £ / $ you would have a replacement bike, probably with a few tweeks to make it better from the previous one. A custom frame builder can take 2 weeks to reply to an initial email....

The bike is a tool for enabling travel and adventure. Yes it needs to be suitably fitted and correctly specced (stem length and rise, not brand!) but any bike will do. Fancy paint, beautiful integrated racks, gem stones (yes YOU Sheldon!) don't mean much when you are actually riding it.

I realise that this will come off as arogant and that I am having a dig at the builders and customers of these works of art. I'm not, I just prefer to focus on the practicalities of the machine first and then save some money and heart ache along the way.

Nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect.


Saturday, 19 February 2011

Thinkering kit...

I am really looking forward to the SSEC and the road trip across France to Belgium. I think I have everything sorted except escaping London, but as I have Tuesday and Wednesday off I may just ride back...a short 100miles that will be easy over 2 days. Guess I'll see how fit I am feeling after 7days riding!

I have been thinkering with bike packing kit. While I normally go with 2 dry bags (8L and 13L) on the rack and bars but thanks to Igor I fancied keeping it all in one place and even more minimal. The only possible addition are 2 bottle cages on the fork legs (low rider rack bolt and hose clamp) for food or sleeping mat. Total weight is 7Kg / 15.5lbs. None to shabby.

One change of clothes and a spare pair of lycra shorts. Should be enough for the 4-5days to Belgium. I may well ask a friend to take a smal bag of clothes over with them in the car so I can have a change at the SSEC.

Handlebars: Sigma LED flasher, Fenix L2D front light.

Tool Bottle + Big bottle cage: Tool bottle has, well, all the tools in and chain rag and bottle of oil. Held in with vintage leather toe strap. Super big BBB bottle cage, will take 1.5L water bottle or 1L of Glenmorangie Port Wood finish :)

Rear Rack Bag: Aquapac Noatak 25L bag containing clothes, bivvi, tarp, wash kit, 1st aid kit, sleeping pad, sleeping bag and liner, spare shorts. Not shown is bungee net and 4L superlight drybag for extra food (Our first days in France are Easter Sunday / Monday...nothing will be open!) Bivvi pole is now strapped under toptube. Spare tube taped to the top of the seatstays.

Waxed cotton musette: packed with kit. under 2lbs.

Whats in it: Camera+3xbatteries, sunglasses, keys+whistle, buff, cap, 2x small ditty bags, suncream, chapstick, hand wash, bug spray. Not shown is wallet and maps.

Charlie is talking about taking cooking kit and making some tasty food each night. As much as that appeals I think that my cold menu will have to do but I will grab some hot food from a cafe or restaurant if possible.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Clear out....

Lots of 29er tyres to move and one odd, non bike related item :)

3x WTB ExiWolf 29x2.3 tyres - all used but in great condition. Fast rolling dry/moist tyre with plenty of cush. £10 each

2x Schwalbe Racing Ralph 29x2.4 - large volume, fast rolling and light weight! Great but everything my WTB Weirwolf's are :) £15 each

2x Conti Twister 700x42c - great monster cross tyres for Surly Crosscheck or the like. £7 each

Surly rear brake hanger

Dia-Compe non-aero levers

Monopoly boardgame - Thai edition from 1970's! Unopened!

For the tyres please email singlespeedpunk AT gmail DOT com, postage at cost or collect from Cheltenham / FoD.

Over and out


Friday, 11 February 2011

Old new ride...

So I have had this for a while but being slack I have not blogged about it or bored people with photos...time to make amends.

Surly Crosscheck set up singlespeed with 46cm Salsa Woodchippers, A119 rims and now Schwalbe Smart Sam 700x47 These look great all round monstercross tyres as the centre tread will roll fast but the outer tread should give some grip in soft conditions or if the tyre has some pressure let out.

The crosscheck will be my ride for the France/Belgium trip as it will cope with all I (and those crazy euros) can throw at it. Adding a rear rack doubles the utility of any bike...apparently. I won't disagree.

Talking of rear racks and touring I have word of some new drybag bike touring kit, no other details at the moment but I hope to add some feedback to make it close to perfect as possible ;)

Right, some photos:

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Essential kit for France > Belgium trip

Who cares what it weighs...I have to get one :)

Bring on the Fromage and vin rouge!