Thursday, December 29, 2016

An Evolution in Blue

Over the past 14 years, I have been thinking about an evolution for my off road bike. I enjoy trail riding during the colder months. Not having to worry about being killed by cars, and the more severe climactic conditions of our Northeast led me to enjoy the off road experience. When the warmer weather comes, I am off on the road. Now, however, the slower but more intense pace of off road riding and the wind chill protection of the woods is a more pleasing way to get my exercise.
I have made several improvements in this latest blue build. The cockpit has evolved from drop racing bars to the now very popular " dirt drop " variety. These Deja Far bars from Velo Orange are wider, much more flared, and much shallower than racing bars. Ideally, the down bar position should be even with the seat height for best comfort. Hence, to the racing crowd, the bars seem ridiculously high. The Cigne stem from Velo Orange helps greatly in this bar elevation. I can easily reach the flared brakes from either the over or under position. It is comfortable and very safe, especially on gravely descents or twisty trails. 
For a long time I have wanted a bike with disc brakes. The mechanical Avid BB7 road disc brakes have been perfect so far. They are very powerful when stopping, yet are very effective when modulating on trail descents. These brakes are comparable with road levers. The extra weight of these mechanical disc brakes are well worth it given the application. Hopefully, they will perform well under load while trekking with panniers.
On my Jamis Nova 'cross bike I had 32mm knobby tires, Ritchey Speedmax. The tires on this bike are Maxxis Ardent 2.4" exo, and they are tubeless ready. The two big differences are the extra width and air volume, and the fact that I am able to run them tubeless. The ' EXO " is an extra protective belt on the sidewalls, greatly worth it for extra protection despite a slight weight gain. The familiar roots and rocks of my regular trail roots are much easier to negotiate with a tires twice the diameter, with lots of air volume cushion. I run these at 26 PSI front and 28PSI rear. Stability on the trail is greatly improved. With no tubes, I am saving some weight and can run these tires at a much lower pressure for greater grip and no chance of pinch flats. 
All in all, the evolution of handlebars, disc brakes, and wider tubeless tires are the major differences that I have created with this machine design. I am looking forward to a retire to Lake Minnewaska in the near future, and doing some trekking in the spring. Of course, Iceland is on the bucket list.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

A New Build...A Velo Orange Piolet

A lot of things came together at the right time. During the colder seasons, I have tended to do more off road and trail riding. My Jamis Nova cyclocross bike is now 13 seasons old. As I have given up cyclocross and have evolved into more trail riding, the urge to build a more adventure/touring bike had been in my thoughts. On a recent visit my son Zachary asked if I could ship the 'cross bike to Cali for him to use. Although hesitant, I began to think about a bike to handle rougher terrain. The folks at Orange Velo had come out with the Piolet frame, and that seemed to be just what I wanted. 
My build took into consideration what type of rider I am, and where I tend to ride the most. It is an unsuspended, off road, dirt drop handlebar machine. The Maxxis Ardent 29er 2.4" tires will allow me to ride where the 'cross bike was just uncomfortable. I am running them tubeless at 26
PSI front and 28 PSI rear. No problems so far. Touring off road may be an option, and of course Iceland is on the bucket list.
My first test ride today went well. The course that I followed was varied, including pavement, wide and narrow trails, mud, and open fields. The Deja Far wide and shallow drop bars worked well from both the above and below positions. The TRP brake levers were ergo dynamically perfect from both positions.  The BB7 disc brakes are a dream compared to the previous cantilevers. Thanks to Igor at Velo Orange for locating a black Cigne stem, it really works so well to get the handlebar semi drops at seat lever for comfortable riding and descending. Thanks to my wife who tolerated my design/building frenzy. The build is as follows:
Frame: Velo Orange Piolet, size large
Wheels: Velocity Blunt SL 29"
Tires: Maxxis Ardent 29" 2.4" width
Brakes: Avid BB7 road, 160mm rotors 
Levers: TRP aluminum
Crankset: Deore triple 22-32-44
Rear derailleur: XT SGS long cage
Cassette: XT 11-34
Seat: Selle Anatomica X series
Bars: VO Deja Far 42mm
Stem: VO Cigne 90mm, black
All in all, this has been a great belated 65th birthday present. I am sure that many roads and trails will be ahead of me for years to come.