Friday, May 19, 2017

Feeling a little cranky today

One thing I and all my biking friends seem to have in common is a two-sided relationship with the bicycle. We love to ride, we like to use the bike for errands, and when we do these things we're not thinking much about the bicycle itself. But once we get off the saddle, many of us think of little else.

I have one friend who started out using the bicycle as a tool to exercise and lose weight. Since then, he's become obsessed enough to have built up over ten bicycles, and he has a small shop in his house.

Another biking friend likes to ride centuries, and has told me that he never thinks about bicycles. Yet he and I recently had a serious and disturbingly deep discussion about how many current bikes are being built to a standard that just doesn't conform to real-world usage. Then we talked about what components would work well for various uses.

It seems as if a lot of bicyclists are also addicted to bicycle minutiae. I'm no exception. I've been riding for less than two years, and almost since the beginning, I've been evaluating the bike I ride (it's pretty darn good, in case you're wondering) and evaluating what kind of bike I might want if I get a second bike. And like some others, I've come to the conclusion that I'd be better off buying a frame and parts and either putting it together or having my LBS put it together.

Though I've evaluated a number of frames, the one that I've settled on actually surprises me. I thought I was going to get a Soma Wolverine -- but what I think would be best for me is the Surly Straggler.
Photo by Surly. Frame for surly rider.
This is based on perhaps ten test rides. It's not so much that riding a Straggler blew me away; it's that I kept coming back to it. The Straggler feels to me like a good all-around bike. And I like the pretty minty green color.

So why get a frame and build it up if I enjoyed the test rides? Well...as it stands, I think the Surly is a nice sport riding bike. The compact crankset is nice...but at my fitness level, I think a triple would be better.  The Surly also comes with drop bars; if I'm honest, I would say that I would ride in the drops just about zero percent of the time. So...maybe a Jones H bar, or a butterfly bar.

That triple crankset is what I've been thinking about the most. The one I've been looking at is a Sugino Alpina2. I've seen it advertised in a 46-36-26, 48-36-26, and some US shops seem to have them in 46-36-24.
Photo by Sugino.
I imagine using this crank with an 11-36 10-speed cassette. I imagine gearing so low that I'll be able to do almost any climb. Granted, some climbs could take hours, but what the heck; it's all about not mashing the pedals, right? As long as my legs hold out...

As for the Wolverine frame...maybe someday. 

In the meantime, I'll continue learning more and more about bike components. In a few months, I'll know enough to be boring about hubs, spokes, and rims. Watch this space.

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