SF Cyclotouring

Ride reports and other ramblings from a San Francisco cyclist.



Hells yeah!


Steering Stabilizer -- First Tests

Steering Stabilizer v2.0
Originally uploaded by jimgskoop
I just installed a home-brewed steering stabilizer on my wife's
Bianchi Milano, and did a few test runs, tweaking things each time.
The hypothesis: Can this device make a front-loaded, high-trail bike
handle as sweetly as a low-trail bike? The early findings: Sorta, but
not quite. There is definitely some improvement, but the bike still
feels floppy.

I lengthened the lever arm even further than shown here (by moving that bolt) and noticed some improvement. The bike still feels pretty floppy, but it's improved over no spring at all. Still doesn't feel as neutral as a low-trail bike, though.

I was surprised by how much spring tension is required to have any sort of impact on the steering. I actually bought other, lighter springs than these, but ended up not using them. Making the lever arm longer is one way to compensate for a weaker spring, since torque = force x length.

More details are on my Flickr stream.


Lofi Porteur Rack #2

Lofi Porteur Rack #2
Originally uploaded by jimgskoop
I fabbed up a quick-n-dirty front rack for Dawn's Bianchi Milano on Sunday. The crate is a street-found Coca-Cola soda crate that has perfect dimensions for a front cargo rack. I bought some 3/4" x 1/8" aluminum flat bar and 3/4" aluminum tubing from the awesome hardware store around the corner (DBS) to build the struts and fork-crown attachment. This rack was intended as a test-bed -- if she likes it I'll braze up a real rack from chromo tubing -- but it turned out quite good, and doesn't look half-bad either.


Notes on 650B Conversions and Handling

I've now done two 650B conversions: first my RB-1 and now my Trek 400. Learning the handling changes brought about by switching to the smaller wheel size has been an interesting experience.

The RB-1 has a 73.5-degree head angle and a fork with 45mm of offset. With a typical 700Cx25mm tire, that bike has about 54mm of trail and 15mm of flop. When I 650B'd the bike I used Nifty Swifty tires, which measure about 34mm wide -- the trail and flop values changed to 51mm and 14mm, respectively. In its stock form, the RB-1 rides as if "on rails". The bike is very easy to ride no-handed at any speed. Swoopy, fast, descending curves make the bike feel like it wants to drift out to the guard rail -- which has been rather unnerving at times. It's very difficult to correct the bike's line during these sorts of turns. In contrast, with 650B wheels, the bike's straight-line handling feels much less "on the rails". It's still easy to ride no-handed, but the front end feels much livelier and less solid. During the same fast downhill curves, the bike now feels like it wants to "oversteer" -- that is, instead of fighting the bike's unwillingness to turn, you now have to consciously keep the bike from turning too much. It only takes a ride or two to adjust to this difference, but it is noticeable the first time out.

The Trek 400 has a 73-degree head angle and a fork with 45mm of offset. Using a 700Cx28mm tire results in 58mm of trail and 16mm of flop. Now that the bike has a 650Bx35mm Panaracer Col de la Vie tire, the trail and flop values change to 54mm and 15mm, respectively. WIth the 700C wheels, the Trek has fairly staid handling. It is less obnoxious during fast cornering than the RB-1, but gives a similar, though less intense, feeling of wanting to drift toward the fog line. Straight-line riding is uneventful, and the bike is fairly easy to ride no-handed. After the switch to 650B wheels, the steering feels much lighter -- similar to how a low-trail bike feels with no front load. The bike still tracks fairly straight when ridden no-handed. I haven't yet had the opportunity to test it on a fast, curvy descent -- but based on the riding I have done, I think this bike will feel fairly neutral vs. the 650B RB-1's tendency to oversteer.

What I find really interesting here is this: The stock RB-1 has trail/flop values of about 54/15mm. The 650B'd Trek 400 has trail/flop values of about 54/15mm -- the same numbers -- yet the two bikes handle really differently! I didn't expect that. Clearly there's more going on....


Trek 1050B

Trek 1050B
Originally uploaded by jimgskoop
Trek 400 + 650B = Trek 1050B.

Finally got around to Phase Two on the Trek 400 -- converting it to 650B. I mounted the Panaracer Col de la Vie tires and took it for a 30-mile shakedown mixter loop through the Marin Headlands on Monday evening. The bike is a lot more fun with these wheels/tires! Still need to work out some fit issues, though -- I think I need a shorter stem.

On a semi-related note, I discovered that 9-speed Shimano shifters index quite well with an 8-speed cassette (the one I lost, then found, which ironically enough, I'm not using on this bike now).



I suspected that the easiest way to find that missing cassette might be to just go ahead and buy a new one. I did that on Thursday. As predicted, today I found said missing item -- it was at the absolute bottom of the more overwhelming of my two parts bins.

Oh well, a 9-speed cassette will work better anyway, which is what I ordered...