Since I last posted, I’ve made the decision to change the frame/forks on the bike. The main reason for this was that I’ve always found the Cadenza a little too ‘twitchy’ for my relaxed style of riding, especially down fast hills.
I decided that if I was going to do this, I may as well go with my longer term plan to build up an Expedition bike that I could ride anywhere, on any road surface (tarmac or otherwise). This meant a Cro Mo steel frame and forks. You see, I’ve always been a mountain biker at heart, with tours through Picos de Europa and all over Western Scotlands tracks and trails. Although these were, literally, decades ago, it’s what I really want to do in the future.
So, with this in mind, I started researching stuff on the www. I considered one of Thorns beautiful bespoke machines, but didnt agree entirely with the philosophy of ‘we know best’ (sorry Thorn, you may well be right). There seemed little choice over major things like whether to run discs or rim brakes. Also, their bikes are built to carry massive loads and I use a trailer. In a nutshell, I don’t need that kind of bike. I can run lighter wheels as there is no real stress on them and enjoy a bike that always feels the same and not like a tank. In the event of my going offroad seriously, I will use an Extrawheel Trailer instead of my two-wheeled Carry Freedom City trailer.
I wanted to use cable operated (mechanical) discs as I like the power ( in the wet and dry), easy maintainence and see no reliabilty problems with them. For flying etc, the discs are easily removed, and taking a spare rotor and pads adds little to the load.
Research ,and the wonderful ‘Adventure Cycling handbook’ lead me to a Uk based MTB company called ‘On One’. They were really keen to help, and offered a substantial discount on an ‘Inbred’ frameset. They also advised on the best frameset for the job in hand. This frameset has been used by many adventurers on a budget. Well built and thought out, and a very good price. Although the frames are now ‘disc only’, they still offer rack attachments and it is possible to fit mudguards with a little thought (and bodging!!)
Using the Inbred frame meant losing the ‘Cane Creek’ Thudbuster seatpost I was given. This was a toughy, as the Thudbuster works really well, is well engineered and costs lots!! After much thought, I decided to keep the Uk theme (Frameset, Trailer, chewy bars, Sleeping mat, bag and silk liner etc) and replace my B17 Brooks saddle with a Brooks Flyer (boingy saddle). The B17 can go on my small wheeler. It’s the same saddle but sprung, to take the buzz out of our potholed roads. The B17 is incredibly comfortable for me, and the flyer has the same leather upper. It hasnt arrived yet, but I will post on how good this is (or not) once I’ve done a few miles on it.
I also chose the ‘Slotted drop-out’ frame as this allows for chain adjustment when running hub gears. The whole thing arrived quickly and a very excited Graeme dragged the lot out in the lounge ( I live alone) and project ‘Eddie’ was underway. It doesn’t take that long to swap the gear from one bike to another, but I took my time, setting up the discs and running the cable for the hub gears where I felt it should go ( along the top tube). Prior to the frame arriving, I took the time to strip the hubs and regrease everything for the winter. No major problems arose. I had to replace the existing BB with a slighly wider one, but that was it. Everything aligned really well and fitted where it should!!
The frame is a 20″, ‘On-One’ recomend an 18″, which would be spot on for mountain biking. The frames have long top tubes and the 20 is perfect for my short fat hairy legs, with a long body type of shape! It also means I can set the bars level/ just above the saddle height, which I need for comfort. The picture shows this set up, although the stem will get replaced soon with a rebuilt Flexstem ( remember them?) and then, I will shorten the steerer tube. This way, I can play with it to my hearts content BEFORE chopping it down.
The handlebars you can see in the picture are Thorns own ‘Comfort bars’. They are riser bars with a sweep backwards and were designed to put your wrists in the anatomically correct position whilst riding. I have used them for a month or so, and they are really comfy. As well as that, I don’t feel the need for bar ends anymore giving more cockpit room for my broad hands.
I’d tried butterfly bars and quite liked them, but the piece your hand sits on to brake is very narrow, which is not too good on bumpy downhills, giving you less control!!!! They are great uphill and on smooth roads though. You may also notice the funny looking chain thingy that lurks around said chain. This is a simple push on/ pull off chain guard that goes around with the chain. Dahon cal this a Freedrive and when I first saw it I laughed and became very cynical!! I had to eat my words though because it actually works really well at keeping crap out of the chain, reducing maintainence and prolonging chain life. So, after a rocky start, it’s now on the new bike along with the SPD’s and Kinetix cranks you can see.
Finally, I fitted an old Madison rack from the depths of the shed. Even this was a pleasant suprise as fitting racks to disc braked bikes can be a pain. The disc on the ‘Inbred’ slotted frame is mounted in front of the seat stay between it and the chainstay, so a normal rack will fit, no bother. As I don’t intend to carry big loads, this rack will do. It’s somewhere to strap the closed cell sleep mat I have decided to take along ( with a very light 3/4 lenth self inflating mat for extra comfort).
And that, as they say, is that. The bike is still running the Shimano Alfine 8 speed hub, but I really want to change this. If I do, I will probably go the whole hog and put a Rohloff on it. The new Shimano 11 speed Alfine sounds good, and reasonably priced, but there’s no way it will have the durability of the Rohloff and may prove to be a false economy. I hope I’m wrong, but I dont have great faith in Shimano making anything to really last, it isnt their market strategy as far as I can tell. That’s all pie in the sky anyway, as I dont yet have the money to even contemplate this properly. The eight speed is incredibly smooth and range OK as I’ve shifted it all down by using a 23 tooth rear sprocket. I don’t have high gears, but as I always say, it’s touring ,so who cares? I can still do 20 mph, a figure I’ll rarely exceed with full kit!!
If (when) I really go for it on a full expedition abroad, I may well replace the rack with a Thorn or Tubus offering for added security and peace of mind, just in case. I will also add a Chris King headset, as and when I can afford to. Another botlle holder will appear, although the trailer allows me to carry as much water/food as I’m ever likely to need (max load of 45KGS, 30 if I buy an Extrawheel for rough stuff).
I’ve riden the bike now, with the trailer, to do my weekkly shop. It’s a twenty mile round trip and the bike was impeccable. I
very little flex in the frame and was supremely comfortable ( I still need to micro adjust all those things like bars and saddle to get them perfect) The bike was very stable, which is what I wanted and I could happily let go of the bars, even when the trailer was full of shopping, something I couldnt contemplate before. It does nothing drastic at all, it just goes along, which is exactly what I wanted.
5 months to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Take a look at On-Ones web page at www.on-one.co.uk