SF Cyclotouring

Ride reports and other ramblings from a San Francisco cyclist.


"Innovate or Die"?

Specialized Bicycles down in Morgan Hill is being all high-n-mighty since they got off their asses and actually rode their bikes to Interbike this year. Yeah, that's pretty cool, but truly if "Mike Sinyard is passionate about finding pedal powered solutions to help offset climate change" then they really should've done this ride on loaded touring bikes and without a support van.

That would've been REALLY impressive.

Oh wait, does Specialized even make a loaded touring bike anymore?


A Life-Long Friend

36 Years
Originally uploaded by emilysaurus
In a fit of nostalgia, I was recently thinking about how I've now lived in California for ten years (as of last July 11th -- and tangentially, how that date had come and gone without me noticing it), and how, although I moved to this fine state with a small collection of bicycles, only one of those bikes still shares my roof (my RB-1). I tend to buy or acquire things fairly carefully and specifically, and don't often relinquish them; therefore when something and I part ways, it feels significant somehow. In the same way yanking off a big scab wakes you up.

And then today, randomly procrasto-surfing on Flickr, I come across this photo of (clearly) someone's favorite bike. I've had my RB-1 only thirteen years and I hope in another twenty-three I can clip a sign like this to it. Here's to just keeping your head down and pushing those pedals. Kudos and amen!


The Commute Conundrum

I happen to work for an employer that offers a free commute shuttle from San Francisco (where I live) to Sunnyvale (where I work). This is either a good thing or a bad thing. It's certainly a good thing because it means I almost never have to drive my car to work. In nearly a year of working at this job, I've only driven my car to work about five or six times, which probably includes my job interview. However it's also a bad thing, because it lets me be lazy and I don't commute via bike+Caltrain every day, which means I get less exercise and riding mileage during the week. Sometimes -- especially when I have a morning meeting -- it's nice to arrive at work not all sweaty and toting a bike helmet. Riding the shuttle also usually gets me home earlier in the evening, so if I have dinner plans that's usually the transport method of choice. In contrast, bike-commuting definitely gets my blood pumping so I feel more awake, and it definitely improves my disposition (mmm endorphins!). I guess it's good to have options, but if I could commit to bike-commuting every day, I'd get an extra 14 miles x 5 days = 70 miles/week. That'd definitely help build endurance for those big weekend rides. The shuttle just feels like cheating...


Taking the Plunge

After hemming and hawing, obsessing and compulsing for the better part of a week, I finally gave in and took the plunge. I just ordered a Kogswell 700C P/R frameset from Trinity Bicycles. Plunking down the moolah for this is a leap of blind faith, since finalized details of this frame haven't yet been made public, nor has a photo of the finished frame set been produced. In fact, the forks for these frames are still somewhere on their way to the US from Taiwan, I think. However, this frameset basically represents the ultimate fat-tire-capable iBOB bike, and since the 700C-wheeled version is only going to be made in seriously limited numbers (reported:20), and since this frame is just my size (59cm), I wanted to get my foot in early to secure one!

We'll see what happens next!



Nutted pivot bolts for Tektro R556/Riv Silver Brakes!

I'm posting this here as a bookmark of sorts.

Over on the 650B list, Ryan W. reported that you can buy a cheap Tektro 800 brake that's designed for nutted mounting, and swap out the center pivot bolt into a Tektro R556/Riv Silver brake that's normally recessed mount. This is a good way to get great brakes for that 650B conversion you've been stumped on because it needs nutted-mount brakes.

Tektro 800 brake at BikeToolsEtc.com

Labels: ,

About Low Trail, and Low Trail Treks

If you're at-all familiar with the iBOB and/or KOG lists, you've heard of the latest bike-craze: Low trail geometry.

Low-trail geometry is supposed to be the bee's knees when it comes to front-loading a bike via a front rack or basket, as many randonneurs and porteurs do. Especially important for randonneuring, this design style supposedly makes a bike more resistant to unintended rider inputs (reaching for a water bottle, turning around to look backwards, etc.) so it holds a line better when a rider is dead tired and wobbly. Low trail design also is said to work well with wider, softer, lower-pressure tires, which may be favorable in a bike equipped for off-road riding.

So just what is low trail? On a bicycle, trail is defined as the horizontal distance between the steering axis of the front fork and the center of the front tire's contact patch, as measured along the ground. Trail is influenced by three things: head tube angle, fork offset, and wheel size. For a standard 700C road-bicycle wheel, low trail is generally accepted to mean trail measurements of around 40-45mm or less.

There are very few modern production bicycles designed with low-trail geometry around today (note I specified production, of course one can always get a custom frame built to spec); the most infamous is the Kogswell P/R, another less-well known model is the Raleigh One-Way.

Low trail production bikes seem to have been fairly popular through the 1970s up until the early 1980s. There are known low-trail models from Nishiki (e.g., some years of the International model), the widely-popular Peugeot UO-8, and some models of Trek bicycles. Quite probably there are others as well. Many of these bicycles were originally equipped with lower-pressure 27x1-1/4-inch clincher tires on non-hook bead rims, and it is my theory that (at least in part) these sport-touring bikes were designed with low trail to make the best of the ride and handling on these puffy tires. As hook-bead rims and skinny high-pressure clinchers became the norm, we see the low trail geometry being dropped from the timeline.

I dug through the catalog archives at Vintage-trek.com and identified what seem to be the low-trail models produced early in the company's history:

Low Trail Treks (models with 73-degree head angles and 5.5-inch fork
offsets in sizes 56cm and up)

1976 TX300/500/700
1977 TX200/300/500/700
1978 510/710/910
1979 510/710/910
1980 412/414/510/710/910
1981 412/610
1982 311/410/412/610/613/614
1983 400/500/520/600/620/630/640
1984 400/420

Curiously, after 1984 the low-trail geometry drops abruptly from the Trek catalog, even though some of these models persist.

So, if you're curious to try out a low-trail bike, but you're shopping for a used bike, now you know what to keep an eye out for...



Argh Six Fifty Bee One!

I've previously written that while I really enjoy riding my 1993 Bridgestone RB-1/7, it's not the world's most practical bike since -- though it accepts larger tires than is fashionable by today's norms (in the 700x28 ballpark) -- said tires AND fenders are mutually-exclusive, unfortunately. If Only...

Well, these days, the 650B wheel size gets us our tasty cake and lets us enjoy it too. (Preferably with a tall cool glass of chocolate milk, but I digress...) Check out some of these hot-rodded bikes that just make me, well, drool like Mr. Simpson over a donut. Or a Duff's beer. Or for that matter, both at the same time!

d. greeblatts rb-1Check out D. Greenblatt's sweet conversion, a 1994 RB-1 that's been revamped from retro-racer to stately country tourer. Those wide stainless fenders and the elegant rear rack don't look out of place at all on this former racing machine. Amazing!

Here's Sarah Gibson's sporty yellow 1993 RB-1/8. Like the first bike, it too features moustache bars. The absence of a rear rack and the lower handlebar position lend this bike a sporty feel; it seems capable of nearly anything. At first glance I thought it was a repainted XO-1!

[Can't link to photo, dunno why...?] Liza's 1994 RB-1 has been given new life as an all-purpose bike, quoting from the linked page...

The RB-1 was a race bike: built with standard gauge/diameter tubing, a more "lively" geometry, and room (just barely) for 700 x 28 tires w/out fenders. Liza used to ride this bike as a go-fast speedy bike, and really loved it. But the fact that she couldn't ride it with a skirt and she couldn't ride it around town in the rain, and she couldn't take it out on dirt roads all piled up to make a bike that was fun, but not too practical.

Originally uploaded by blovejoy.

Last but not least is an RB-1 forerunner... Bill L.'s six-fifty-bee converted Bridgestone 700 originally started life as a skinny-tired sport bike, now it's a great all-purpose adventure vehicle.

I'm really infatuated by these bikes, they are great examples of "make what you've got work" thinking, and someday I plan to follow suit by converting my bike to 650B, too!

Labels: ,

OK, so I finally went bike-camping...

Twin Tents
Originally uploaded by jimgskoop
Carlos, Greg, and I rode up to Bodega Bay, camped overnight, and then rode back the next day. 79 miles the first day, 153 miles total; total trip took around 33 hours. My rack-obsessing paid off -- the racks worked quite well -- and my gear choices weren't horrible for a newbie, though I was a bit cold during the night, and I definitely need some sort of sleeping pillow. The most difficult part of the trip was the first day's ride, it was what I now call brevet hard. I was super-tired and my brain was rather sluggish by the end of the day. The second day's riding seemed to go a bit more easily (tailwinds on Highway One, perhaps?) though I think I drank so much Gatorade that it started to make me a bit queasy and bloated. Carbs overload?

Full set of photos here. Carlos has some additional photos and Greg has a few as well.