Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Round up

Last Friday, Willy, Patrick, Joe, and I rode the first half of the Midnight Century. It was too hot for that kind of tomfoolery. Joe was smart; he bailed at Liberty Lake and went back to Spokane on the trail. Willy, Patrick, and I pressed on. It was about 98 F. I drank lots of water. Probably about 2 gallons. But I only peed once at the end of the day. Not good. Coming up Sands Road, I was getting a bit rummy and sort of spacey. A couple miles later we came to the top of a hill where someone was watering their lawn. There was also a fruit tree in the yard. We broke our "don't stop longer than 5 minutes rule" and soaked in the sprinklers and hung out under the tree. That made all the difference.
The t-shirts are hanging in Object Space, they are part of a show that Bruce Hormann has put together a show, "Punk Art Retrospective 197?-2009". I lease a space in the Object Space building from Bruce for my day job so I've been watching this show come together. I wasn't into punk when I grew up here in the 80's, but this collection is still really fascinating to me. Spokane had (and still has) a rich sort of underground culture. I don't know how else to classify it, "underground," "punk," "non-mainstream?" I don't know, but looking at the zines and band fliers that span the last 20+ years I am sort of regretful that I didn't explore more of the edges of the music scene in Spokane as I grew up. This show captures a local piece of historical perspective that I think is important. The care that Bruce takes in cataloging the hundreds of pieces that have been dug out of attics and basements and back rooms by his friends is impressive. You should go and you should donate a few bucks to the donation jar so Bruce can continue to do shows that no one else in town would or could do. Opening reception is tomorrow night and the show runs through the end of the month. Hours are 4pm till late-ish. It's at 1818 1/2 E Sprague.

This is Jens. He's German. He's 23 and he's travelled more miles on his bike since he was 16 than I'll probably ever travel. He rolled through town on July 18th, which was fortunate for him since it was my birthday and we were having a backyard movie and cake. It was also fortunate since July 18th was also his birthday.
A couple interesting Jens facts:
  • His first tour was across Europe when he was 16
  • When he was 19 he rode from Turkey to Vietnam, via Iran, Pakistan, over the Himalayas, through China, and Laos. I needled him for a couple hours on this trip. Amazing stories. His way into China and how he had to work the visa system is impressive and took some serious guts.
  • Zoom in on his bike pic there and you'll see a little box taped to his head tube. It's a recharging unit his buddy made for him. It contains a couple cell phone batteries. During the day he charges the batteries with his dynohub, then at night he has a bit of juice for charging his phone or other small devices.
  • His bike is hearty. Tried and true stuff there.
Here's a porteur from Specialized. It's called the Globe Live. Whoa Nelly. I don't want to say I told you so, but I called this one.

On paper they've done a really good job with their first attempt. We can't give them too much credit, since the design has been well-known for over 50 years, but the fact that they got the essential details right is heads and tails above what other big bike companies have done when they attempt a practical bike (ahem-Simple City-ahem). The Medium and Large sizes have low trail to handle the front load. It ships with fattish tires (35mm) and full aluminum fenders (that's a big deal); it's got nice components, not junk - a chain guard. The fancier versions have 8 speed internal hubs, with the fanciest running Alfine and disks.
In my opinion, there are two screw ups. Clearly, it should be a steel bike, but that's really just my preference and not a screw up. Though, some would argue that a properly raked and tapered steel fork would make for a much smoother ride than the fork that ships with it and I'd agree with them.
But here's the nits:
1. The Small size uses 700c wheels. It's got to be expensive to spec different sized wheels when your doing huge runs on these bikes, but you can't get the front end right on this bike when you shrink it and put 700c wheels on it. The small size looses the low trail and therefore looses the handling characteristics of such bikes when you load them up. If you buy it. Don't buy the small.
2. The rack will wobble if you put too much weight in it. It's not triangulated properly. As Jan Heine noted on an iBOB thread discussing this rack:
some people still don't understand triangulation of racks - this one is a  perfect parallelogram with slanted sides. Put a heavy load on it, and  it'll try to flatten out, going down and toward the back. And since  it's not supported at the top, it'll tend to swing sideways, too. 
All the same, I think this is a great effort by a big bike company. At $600 the single speed version is tempting. The multi-geared versions use an eccentric bottom bracket for tensioning. And the super version uses a belt drive! Pretty sensible, that.

I had more to say. But for the love of Pete. I gotta stop. If you read this far. Thanks.


Pat S said...

Whoa! You dropped the bomb you said you would. I was especially waiting for the news on the LT porteur and you didn't disappoint. Great review.

One thing I've been seriously wondering about: *Everything* on Jens bike is black - it either came that way or he painted it that way. It could be just stylistic (after all, he's 23), but I'm guessing not. That bike is 100% functional. Black is radiant-heat-sink death. I wonder if there's another reason. Probably I've been watching too many X-files re-runs, but did you ask about that?

Not said...

Internal hub, disc brakes, fenders, belt drive, front rack - sign me up for the Live 3!

The only thing I would do differently, and maybe it's just a personal quirk, is put 26 x 2.35 tires on it.

- Ventura

John Speare said...

Pat: I didn't ask him about that. I know that a some cyclists paint their bikes black just to look as non-descript/flashy as possible to help deter theft. He said he bought the frame and built up the bike. I was steel and lugged -- he mentioned that he did that so that it would be easier to repair.

Ventura: Yeah, they should've put 26's on the small for sure. It's a cool bike.

meade said...

Jens sounds like he has some interesting stories...does he have a web page where he publishes trip reports?

John Speare said...

Meade; yes:

meade said...

ah, in German no less...what does he think I am bilingual or least I can read the pictures...