Sunday, April 29, 2007

Hi, My Name is John and I have a Bike Problem

A few small experiences have been tempting my "want to try another bike" problem. This was supposed to be the year of the non-boondoggle, where I didn't spend a bunch of money on bike stuff. To skirt the rules a bit, it's looking like it may be the year where I sell off my bling bikes to finance not-so-much bling.

I sold my Rivendell Quickbeam. That money went to Maddie's tandem. My buddy Joe traded me his old Trek 720 frame set for a Nitto rack. The 720 is a replacement for my Quickbeam and I'm just fine with it... no regrets at all. The much celebrated 520 "do everything" bike is looking more and more like a solid replacement for the Atlantis as the tourer and load-hauler 'round town. My prediction is that I'll see the revival of the RB-T as the "go-fast" bike for me. I miss it and I just haven't been able to replicate that springy feel in other bikes.

For any ride under 5 miles, I've been riding the Fuji Turd bike for the last few weeks. I put the hurkin' fat rubber on it last week and transformed it once again. I also ran into Jon the bass player and bike rider. I don't know his last name. But I ran into him just after he had just finished an epic trail ride all over the Hangman Valley and into the Cheney-Spokane road area. His tale of all trails for mile after mile got me thinking that I have a lot of unexplored territory to cover right out my back yard. And there a number of folks who can show me around that territory. I've also been eyeing David Blaine's blog and his adventures in the back country of north Idaho. My buddy Joe is slowly building up a Karate Monkey for trail riding. I keep throwing the chain and having generally freaky-scarey experiences on my 720 when I go on certain steep rocky trails off High Drive. Now that I'm riding this absurdly fat-tired Fuji, where I can roll over a curb and barely feel it, I am feeling the urge to try fat-tired mountain biking. I'm even thinking about a suspension fork. The seed is planted. I will now stew. And think and re-think and over think.

Some options I've thought of:
  • Liberate the MB-2 that is burdened by the Xtracycle. The retro-grouch in me says, "this is the way God intended for mountain bikes to be built -- with a rigid fork." If the MB-2 wasn't engulfed by the Xtracycle, I would definitely give the bike a shot. But hooking up the xtracycle, and the lever-actuated center stand, and the lighting system and all that goo makes me not want to deal with it at all. The X is destined for loanership to friends.
  • I like the looks of REI's entry into the single speed market this year, which mysteriously, is only in the paper catalog and not on the REI site. It's a steel frame. It's simple. It's clean with no shocks, and it's orange. Yowsa. But I think I want gears. I've done my share of grinding on single speeds and fixed on trails in the last few years and I'm ready to spin up the steep stuff.
  • I like Surly's Instigator. I like it because like most Surly bikes it's pretty versatile for a mountain bike. It doesn't have horizontal dropouts, which I like for a mountain bike. But it can take disc brakes or canti's. It's steel, which is a must for me. They make a nice rigid fork for it, but the frame is designed for a front suspension fork. If I bought the Instigator, I'd likely try it with the rigid forks first, along with absurdly fat tires, then ease into the suspension forks if I felt I needed them. It's been about 8 years since I rode a suspension-forked bike, and I didn't care much for it.

Once I decide on a frameset, the shifting will still have to be friction thumbies. The saddle still a B-17. There's some stuff that just doesn't require changing. I will fight the urge to put fenders on it. I will fight the urge to put a rack on it. I will keep it pure in the "trail" way.

We'll see what happens with the other bikes and what kind of cash flow I can generate if I get off my arse and start another round of bike selling. I've got time to think on it.

This just in. Missoula is small and flat, but it's a cool event regardless.


Anonymous said...

What about looking for a used steel mountain bike that is suspension corrected? It should be cheaper than buying an Instigator or the like.

My old mountain bike was a Trek 920 that I bought for $50 (frame and rigid fork) from Recycled Cycles. The frame was designed for 63mm travel suspension forks.

Anonymous said...

Instigators are kinda neat, but seem like total overkill for use as a trail bike. Doesnt seem too hard to find a decent used steel mtb frame that would be cheaper and weigh probably at least a pound or maybe two less than an instigator would.

Tarik Saleh said...

Oh yeah, if you get the instigator you can huck hella jumps yo.

I am not sure why the instigator is a better choice for you than the 1x1 or the karate monkey, but I am pretty sure you won't go too wrong.

Jim G said...

I still have that '85 Stumpjumper Sport frameset for ya...I need to get off my ass and get it shipped out to ya. I also have a 17" Rockhopper frameset and a '94 rigid Cannondale (whole bike) if you're interested!

grrsh said...

My Mb-3 with an Xtra.