Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My Ride

Here's my current ride. It's a commuter that's really built on a cyclo-cross frame. I'm a pretty old-school guy, so in some ways this is an old-school bike. I've put about 4500 miles on this bike so far, (about 1600 this year) and it's held up well. Here are the "specs":

Frame: Steel Nashbar generic mountain bike hardtail frame and rigid fork. Extra long seat post to handle my long legs (38" inseam!).

Wheels: combo rim / disk brake compatible 26" mountain wheels. Sun Rhyno Lite rims on Deore hubs (I wish they had cartridge bearings.) I have Forte City ST/K tires from Performance Cycling which I run at 85 psi.

Drive train: This is the most unusual aspect of my bike. It's a 9-speed. 45-tooth chainwheel on an old French TA crank (185mm crank arms for those long legs of mine) driving an 11-34 Shimano cluster. This is all the gear range I need around Columbia, Maryland. SPD compatible pedals from Nashbar. Sealed Shimano bottom bracket. Deore indexed shifter and derailleur. Just having a single gearing to shift up and down on is so intuitive, it's almost like having an automatic transmission. Sometimes I think about replacing this with an internal-geared hub. (It would be nice to downshift when stopped.)

Saddle: Terry Liberator Men's. Very nice commuter saddle. Durable and comfortable.

Brakes: Mafac cantilevers with drilled-out Mafac levers. These are very "old-school" brakes. They require a fair amount of hand strength to operate, but they are as solid and reliable as it gets. Fantastic stopping power.

Handlebars: Old improvised "bull-horns" cut from a standard drop handlebar. Bought for $5 from the parts box of a local bike shop. I use a double-wrap of gel tape covered with yellow and blue Cinelli cork tape. It is so important to be color-coordinated!

Lighting / visibility: Cateye 3-LED front light, 3-LED rear light (on seatpost), with 3" amber truck reflector on the back. (You can see the reflector shining in the mirror behind the bike in the photo above.) Everything uses AAA batteries, and they last a surprisingly long time.

Mudguards (fenders): Yellow Planet Bike "Hardcore". Life is too short to limit yourself to black or silver fenders.

Baggage carrying: Old Eclipse platform rear rack with a couple of Nashbar panniers. I fill these up on a daily basis. One pannier carries rain gear, a change of clothes, a lock, and lunch. The other pannier carries my briefcase-backpack, including my laptop. It's a pretty full load, and this bike handles it nicely.


Willie said...

Is your front fork mudguard mount bracket custom, or is it an off-the-shelf item? I've not seen one like it.

Robert Anderson said...

It's hand fabricated from some aluminum angle. I made it heavy duty because I intend to mount a platform rack on the front.

Garrett said...

Don't you worry about riding with your laptop in a pannier? I am curious b/c I have thought about getting some bags for my bike, but so far I am still using a backpack since I fear having my computer in a pannier would be too much impact on it. My computer is the most expensive thing I own. But man I hate having that thing on my back...the back-sweat is one thing, but it also just takes away the sense of freedom being on a bike with a big backpack on...any advice?

Robert Anderson said...

Garrett, it's a good question, and until I got these big panniers, I rode with my Macbook Pro in a backpack also. And I tolerated it, but in retrospect, it was awful, for exactly the reasons you describe. If you have a solid rack and a big pannier, you can put a padded backpack in the pannier. It's what I do -- I wouldn't carry the laptop without padding. So I've got a smallish padded laptop backpack carrying my 15" laptop inside the pannier. Safe and sound. To be even safer, you could put the laptop on the curb-side of your bike, although I carry mine on my left side.