Thursday, June 21, 2007

Gratuitous Bike Porn

Alex is a buddy of mine that lives in Seattle. He just got this bike back together after wrecking it -- he got hit by a car; luckily only the bike forks suffered long term damage, he's ok now. When he wrecked it he had had it for about a week and was still getting it squared away. Now he's got a new fork and some new bits on it, and it's complete.

Alex is sort of John + 2 years or so. All the bike obsessions and fascinations I go through now are about 1 to 2 years old for Alex. But maybe I'm finally closing the gap a bit, because this bike is really everything a bike should be. It truly is a do-everything-I-would-want-to-do-bike.

My favorite features; in priority order:
  1. Geometry of the frame. First off, it's very similar in the basic geometry to my RB-T, which I love. The headtube is slightly steeper and the overall size is scaled up a hair, but generally, the geometry is about the same; with one big-ass exception: the rake on the fork is 60mm. This provides a trail of about 40mm, which is the sweet spot for hauling loads up front and provides for a spirited ride when unloaded.

  2. The tube set is standard gauge/diameter steel, so there's enough flex for that magic feeling that is oft-disputed on the bike lists. I don't try to convince folks of this phenomenon. The folks at Bicycle Quarterly call it "planing," and describe some kind of harmonic synergy between the flex of the frame and a rider. At the end of the day, it's pretty subjective and it's like porn: defining it is difficult, but you know it when you see it. I call it "magic" now. Either a frame is magic for me, or it's not. I'm not going to dispute how it feels for someone else.


  3. Fat 700's/Fenders: this bike can take true 700 x 38mm tires with (SKS) fenders. It can take 42-45's w/out fenders! That kind of tire sizing makes for a useful bike. If you want to spend time on the rough stuff -- single track, logging roads, etc -- put some fatties on there. Or if you want to do touring, put 35s on there and fenders. Obviously, it's the frame that makes this kind of versatility possible, so another critical piece of fat-tire-ability is the cantilever brakes. I hate setting up canti's, but they make the most sense to me for brakes.


  4. Internally geared hub. But not just any; this is a Rohloff hub. It's 14-equally-spaced gears. The Rohloff is the standard expedition-quality internal hub. This means no fussing with gears or worrying about mechanical gear failures in the middle of no where. It also reduces maintenance to almost nothing on the bike. The frame was built with the Rohloff in mind; check out those stylin' drop outs.

So, those are the biggest reasons this bike rules. Clicking on the pictures here will take you to Alex's SmugMug site where you can see more pics. I can't wait to get over to Seattle and ride this bike. Alex says it's magic. I hope it is for me too.

Oh, and the bike was a custom bike built by Ivy Cycles.

Finally, your Thursday night bike options have doubled this week. In addition to the Thursday night chilled out ride on this Solstice evening, Liza is really going to need some help fixing up bikes out at Dishman Dodge. Please contact me (johnspeare AT gmail DOT com) today if you can help her out. It's basic stuff: changing tires, simple brake adjustment -- just getting these bikes rolling. The plan is to meet there at 5:30 and work until 8 pm. Bring tools if you have them. We've got 4 bike stands and some tools.


1 comment:

Jim G said...

Yeah, Alex's bike is very close to what I think my ideal bike these days might be, too. I like the fat-tire-ability, the 40mm trail fork for both frontal load carrying AND/OR counterbalancing the pneumatic trail from fat tires, and just the overall clean sensibility of it. One bike to ride on road and off, rule them all, and in the darkness bind them! I want a Kogswell 700C P/R to basically duplicate Alex's bike but with a typical drive train.