Monday, December 14, 2009

Looking for input


1991 Bridgestone RB-T. My favorite. Not the best-made bike
in the history of the world, but there's a lot of soul there.

A week or so ago, I posted about how Elephant Cycles is now certified for S&S retrofits, aka "coupling" a bike. I'm definitely going to couple one of my bikes and I've been about 90% certain that the bike on operating table will be my soulful RB-T. It's a great bike. I can ride road or trails on it. It has that "magic" some call planing (some pontificating on that idea here).

Anyway, there was a time when I was really hip to the idea of coupling my already hacked RB-1. On paper, it's a much more versatile bike, which makes sense for a bike you'll be traveling with. And it takes my favorite tire of all time, the Grand Bois Hetre. But I'll be a monkey's uncle if I can do a ride longer than 80 or so miles on it without feeling weird. I don't get pains, but it's just not comfortable the way my blue RB-T is, or my 747 is. But really: I just can't feel the magic on the RB-1. It doesn't feel like my black RB-T does when I climb or push out of the saddle. So, I took it off the list of S&S consideration a while ago.



1993 Bridgestone RB-1 with hacked canti brakes and 650b fatties

But then I got to thinking: most of my travel riding will not be epic long rides. They'll likely top out at around 50 miles. And they will more than likely include dirt and harsh roads, because that's the stuff I'm drawn to. So maybe the RB-1 is the bike to couple.


My other bikes are off the list for various reasons: fixed gear, Rawland, blue RB-T, 747. Mostly they're off because they're too single purpose, or in the case of the blue RB-T because it's too fussy to pack with fenders and rack and all. Same with the 747: fenders and single purpose -- I have vowed not to do hard trail riding on it.

So, you can help. Got an opinion? Let me know. Which bike do you think should be chopped in half and made into a traveler: The Black Soulful RB-T that is just SO easy to ride, or the Cushy Fast Hacked RB-1?

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I thought they were the same bike, just in different colors?! Ok all joking aside, it sounds like the yellow one is the right one. Very versatile and the smaller 650 rim might give you just a smidge more packability with the tires deflated. wade

John Speare said...

Actually Wade -- very astute observation. The bikes are geometrically speaking, nearly the same. The two big differences: fat 650bs and a larger-diameter top tube on the RB-1. My gut says that OS tubing on the top tube of the RB-1 makes all the difference. Willy would think I'm smoking crack. But I think that may be the place where the magic is getting snuffed on the RB1.

bmike said...

whats up with not giving the rawland the love? care to share? i'd have thunk the rawland with its go anywhere attitude would be the bike to couple...

and if you are concerned about the cockpit setup - since you are coupling - you could easily set up a switch to more 'road' oriented bars with some cable couplers... then you'd have 1 bike, 2 setups, and coupled... no? or am i missing something about how you ride the R?

John Speare said...

bmike: the Rawland is just too stout for my liking as a super versitile bike. And the disc brakes don't seem like a good thing to squash into an S&S case. I love the Rawland for snow and mountain biking and overnighting. And actually, with the Hetres on there, it's a pretty good quasi-road bike too. But in the end, I prefer standard diameter tubing.

Pondero said...

If it were me, the fixed gear would be the one, because of simplicity. Just having a bike that is very easy to pack and assemble would overcome the desire for overall versatility.

But it's not me and the fixed gear is off limits. Therefore, I'd couple the yellow bike, because you probably shouldn't mess with "soul".

I have confidence that you make the right pick.

John Speare said...

Pondero: For a long time, I considered coupling the fixed gear (my old 720, which also doubles as an 8 spd IGH). It's still not a bad idea. But I'm very drawn to dirt climbs (think long mountain/logging roads with sporatic super steep bits) which can be done on a fixed, but the descents are a pain!
But the 720 has the simplicity of the fixed with option for gears...

John Speare said...

And the I'm super drawn to the simplicity of disassembly/reassembly of a fixed gear. Talk about easy. One front brake to deal with.
But I plan on getting all crazy with packing: I'll practice until I can do both sides of a trip in under 15 minutes each.

Pat S said...

Yep, 'wanker gear head' pretty much nailed it (your words, not mine). You're in way over my head . . . I got nuthin. ;-)

13-b122 said...

Would the coupling change the feel of the rbt? would hate to mess with that good feel.

mike said...

hmm. maybe a 3spd fixed hub... so you can do reasonable descents?

rawland as noted for me - but i'm in a tour divide / bikepacking mindset as of late.

Ken Paulman said...

Is that Moto-Bike frame still hanging around?

Anonymous said...

John -- I changed the fork on my beloved black RB-T, not cause I wanted to, but because the powdercoater trashed it, and it's just not the same anymore. Still nice, will still probably never sell it, but I liked it better stock. So, with that experience, I cannot recommend risking messing up the goodness of that RB-T.
Dan S.

John Speare said...

Pat: whenever I feel guilt for being such a wanker I put that tag on my post. It's a wonder I don't have that on most posts...

C3-PO: I hope coupling doesn't kill the magic. I don't think it will, but I won't know until I do it. The last coupled bike I had was pretty "springy" -- same/similar tubing as the RB-T.

Mike: very good suggestion. But if the goal of coupling a fixed is to simplify the packing/unpacking, then adding another cable interfers a bit with that goal. And increases the cost of the project by about $300. But I've been lusting over that hub since it was announced a couple years ago.

Ken: oh yes. I just moved that frame last weekend to the new space. I think the frame alone would exceed the airline weight limit of 50 pounds. And if I recall, there are some extra stays/struts that would need to be coupled. And isn't there some kind of corny 70's attempt at a shock on their too? You may be onto something. Want to buy it?

John Speare said...

Dan S. -- Hadn't considered the "stock" vs "hacked" issue. That really doesn't come into play for me so much with these bikes. I love Bridgestones, but I don't assign them a big value as collector untouchables. However, I've already hacked the RB-1 and the RB-T is orginal, so it's worth considering. Thanks.

rory said...

i think you should S&S the yellow one. i think you'll want a cyclocross race in the future, and i would keep the RB-T lightened up for that.

unless your goal is to procure a new cyclocross bike as well...

John Speare said...

Rory: all bike junkies think the same way..."how do I spin a justificatoin for the next bike..." thank you for that.

joe said...

If you ruin the "soul" of the RB-t by coulping it you will never forgive yourself, why risk it?

Anonymous said...

The solution to this dilemma is so stinkin obvious...and doesn't involve any damn old bridgestones...anyone?

John Speare said...

Joe: excellent point.
Anon: just buy a new bike that's coupled already? Can't justify that one. yet.

Anonymous said...

John -- I wasn't referring to anything collectible about my RB-T, although ebay prices indicate that, unfortunately, there is some of that. The only stock bits left on mine is the rear brake cable hanger and the seat bolt.

What I meant was the ride quality changed from near-perfect (besides high-speed shimmy on fast downhills) to "something's a little funny here" with the new fork. I specified a bit more rake (fell for the low-trail "fad") and for that reason alone (negative change in ride quality) I wish I still had the original fork. The new fork is far-better looking and will fit a fatter tire. the bike just doesn't give me the same "ahh, this is the bike" feeling I always used to get when I jumped on it after riding another bike.

Dan S.

John Speare said...

Dan: I see what your saying. Yeah -- I have an RB-T with a high rake fork on it. With a load it's great, and I have a rack on the front to slow down the steering a bit. But I too prefer the ride of my RB-T with the stock fork that puts the trail at around 55 mm.

Btw: that seat post binder bolt on your RBT is worth its weight in gold. Or nearly.