Showing posts with label touring. Show all posts
Showing posts with label touring. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Falling. Also, In Love.

Well, I've been falling over kind of too often lately. Good news is, it has been pretty fun.

The bike I've enjoyed falling over on so much is the replacement I bought with the insurance money after the theft of my beautiful fixed gear, Summer. I'll bet the visually astute among you caught a couple of cool features already.

The bike I bought is a 2014 CUBE Men's Touring City Bike. Touring City Bike? Wha? Exactly. CUBE is a German company with a pretty good rep, mostly for mountain bikes. Translation of bike model names isn't always the greatest. Germans love a good all-purpose bicycle and with this thing you can tell. After seeing the specs on it I bought it from Chain Reaction Cycles, the online monster based in Ireland.

When you see the following spec list, I'm hoping you will understand why I skipped the LBS on this purchase...

  • Frame: Aluminium Lite Trekking Comfort
  • Forks: SR Suntour NEX HLO
  • Chainset:Truvativ E400, 42T, 175mm
  • Bottom Bracket: Truvativ BB Power Spline
  • Shift Levers: Shimano Nexus Inter-8 SL-8S30, Revoshifter
  • Rims: Schürmann Yak19, V-Brake
  • Front Hub: Shimano DH-3N31, Hub Dynamo, QR
  • Rear Hub: Shimano Nexus SG-8R36
  • Spokes: DT Swiss Factory 2.0, Black
  • Tyres: Schwalbe Spicer Active 40x622
  • Front Brake: Shimano BR-M422, V-Brake
  • Rear Brake:  Shimano BR-M422, V-Brake
  • Brake Levers: RFR 520 Aluminium Black
  • Handlebars: CUBE Rise Trail Bar, 660mm
  • Grips: CUBE Ergo Grip Shift
  • Headset: FSA No. 10 Semi-Integrated
  • Stem: CUBE Performance, 31.8mm
  • Saddle: Selle Royal Freccia
  • Seatpost: CUBE Performance Post, 31.6mm
  • Seatclamp: Scape Close 34.9mm
  • Pedals: Trekking Aluminium
Weight: 16 kg
Extra Features:
  • Front Light: Busch&Müller Lumotec IQ Fly T Senso Plus
  • Backlight: Busch&Müller Toplight Flat Plus
  • Kickstand: Standwell Centre Kickstand
  • Mudguard: SKS Black Shiney Pro
  • Bell: Humpert
  • Carrier: Standwell Bag Carrier

See, unlike most North American bikes, which need accessorizing after the fact, this thing came with EVERYTHING I was after and then some. I wanted an internally geared bike and that is where I started. But when pre-installed dyno, lights, SKS fenders and a rear rack showed up along with pretty good brand-name components including good spokes and tires, I was SOLD.

Am I crazy, or is this bike spec'd out really well?

I am absolutely loving this bike, despite a few shortcomings that I will cover now.

1) Size: It is too big for me. Bike fit is great when riding, but standover height is too high. Those among you who are thinking "I told you so" about not using a local bike shop are absolutely right, so back off, you bastards! The sizing chart lied to me. My suspicion is that they didn't adjust the chart for the suspension fork. I wasn't interested in returning this awesome bike by shipping it across the ocean, whether at my expense or not. I am so pleased with everything else that I will a) get used to it and do nothing or b) try a rigid fork that will lower the crossbar height somewhat. Despite some online forum goons saying it may mess with the handling, I don't believe it would hurt anything the way I'm using it and if I'm careful to find a fork with some rake to it. My winter tires are 32c instead of the the 38c ones that are on it, and that will help a tiny bit too.

2) Suspension Fork: I am not a fan of suspension forks for road use, harsh urban or not. CUBE has more offerings in their 2015 City lineup with rigid forks, so it would seem I am not alone. That said, I found this one acceptable because it has a lockout feature which I use most of the time. When I'm out in "falling over land", I let the fork do its thing and quite enjoy the cushy ride.

3) Grip Shifters: I hate grip shifters. Just a personal preference I guess. However, grip shifters combined with the Nexus hub seem more acceptable somehow. I don't know why, but it just isn't bugging me the way a grip shifter with a derailleur does.

4) Cable Guides: The cables came attached to the guides on the frame by little metal clip things that pop off rather easily. Nothing trusty zip ties couldn't fix, but a tad annoying and surprising in a bike of good quality otherwise. CUBE has moved to internal cable routing in 2015 models.

That's it for my complaints.

This bike rides beautifully, partly of course because it has big slicks on it. It is heavy, but so am I, and the solid feel is good. When I weigh 160 lbs again, I'll gladly start caring about how much my bike weighs. The gear range seems perfect so far, because I have yet to need gear 1,2 or 8 on my in-city rides, meaning it will probably be fine if I challenge some bigger hills or hit some really fast and flat terrain.

The chainguard, not mentioned in the specs, is clear and black and cool looking. If a chainguard could be cool, that is. The ergon-like grips are really good, and unlike some other imitations they have lock down screws that keep them from twisting out of position.

The Busch & Müller lights, pre-wired to the front dyno hub, are awesome! They aren't crazy blazing bright, but the beam is super wide and useful. They have a light sensor in them so during the day I get running lights and when its dark they go full on. They also have a capacitor so that when I'm stopped they won't go out for several minutes. I know this is old news to some, but I am totally loving not thinking about lights for the first time ever; they take care of themselves. When I'm extra worried about being seen, day or night, I activate my helmet mounted superflash but otherwise I just don't worry. It's great! The points where the wires disappear into the frame seem flimsy to me. I intend to reinforce them with a dab of silicone or something.

Of course, this particular model of CUBE bike is not to be found anywhere for much longer; the model names have all changed for 2015 and I can't find an exact equivalent. In addition, they will likely never be distributed in the USA due to patent problems with the rear suspensions on their mountain bikes. Lastly, there appears to be a new Canadian distributor: , which makes me happy .

So, if you're in the USA and wanted a CUBE bike, you should probably do what I did and order it online. I have no idea if duties or taxes are much different for my US brothers and sisters, but my bike, all-in (taxes, delivery, duty, everything) cost me $1350 CAD. When I look at the extras, that price blows my mind.

I would not recommend buying a bike online to anyone who is not comfortable doing their own assembly, repairs and adjustments; it isn't fair (in my opinion) to ask your lbs to fix the business you chose not to give them. Also note that I got semi-burned on the sizing thing. What's all that worth? I don't know. 

Yer Pal,

PS - I have not received anything from anybody for this review.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Brooks Saddles - Worth It?

Some quick comments on my last post about Brooks saddles have given me the idea of pumping my readers for information. You are few but mighty, and I want your help deciding some stuff.

Brooks saddles are legendary in the cycling world (among others), but I've been reluctant to fork out the money. As you may or may not know, I'm in the beginning stages of building a light touring bike on a 1988/89 Trek 520 frame. Since this is the bike I am most likely to spend long hours on, I'm thinking my choice is a little more important than on other bikes I've built.

I'm writing this in an effort to collect unbiased feedback from "normal" people, rather than just buying one, regardless of cost, because they're "the best". If you have never had a Brooks saddle, please refrain from commenting on them, since what I'm after here is first-hand experience rather than "common knowledge". If you've got a different touring saddle you love, though, bring it on! I'm guessing this stuff has been discussed ad nauseam on lots of bike forums, but frankly, I'm not as interested in the opinions of total strangers. I've come to learn a lot about how and where and for how long many of you ride, and I trust you more. There's that, and of course I am afraid of falling back into Cycling Forum Hell. It took me forever to recover last time, and I never want to write a post that long again.

Some questions I've got:

Are there any other saddles that come awful close at half the price?

Are there particular models well suited to a "speedy touring" style? I hope to remove the racks and panniers sometimes and ride this bike fast once in a while. I don't see myself investing in a full-out road bike, so this one will probably be it.

If one accepts that Brooks saddles are way better, are they so much better that their cost is warranted?

One last note: Please just go full out with your own opinions; boss me around! I'll make up my own mind, but I'm not interested in diplomacy. I don't want to end up with a bunch of comments that contain "I am sure you would be happy with your choice..." or "It really depends on your personal preference". I know that. I want to hear about your preference, and why.

If you are in a position to comment, please accept my thanks in advance. I really appreciate your help in this matter.

Three cheers for the Hive-Mind! Rah! Rah! Rahhh!


Friday, June 19, 2009

All Itch, No Scratch - Bike Building Purgatory

The itch is back. The bike-building itch. It has been four or five months since I finished with the last one. I currently own two bikes I built up myself (excluding the frames and wheels), my winter MTB commuter and my summer fixed gear commuter, which is partially composed of parts from my first (now de-commissioned) experiment in bike building. Having been a mostly urban rider all my life, I am finally hearing the call of the highways and the countryside. While I can go a very long way on my fixed bike, I want to try some distances and hills that would likely kill me on a fixed gear. So it's time to build a geared touring bike. I'm thinking something suitable for reasonably fast light loaded touring would suit me best at this time. Now that I've been bitten by the bike-building bug, I won't even consider just buying a complete bike... Eewww.

I didn't know I had such an expressive visage! No wonder people seem to know what I'm thinking all the time. Darn it! I knew I should have been an actor! Curse you, influencers of my youth, curse you! Ah well, back on topic...

I am not a wealthy person. I can't build or buy the bikes I want at will. I need to save up, obtain bargain parts as they present themselves, and be patient. I wouldn't change that if I could, though. The satisfaction of getting something just right over a long time is what I love about doing it myself. Something I've learned from my previous builds is not to buy ebay or other parts that should or could work... I collected more than I needed, wasting money and time along the way. I will have to overcome laziness and something of a pack-rat mentality and re-sell that stuff some time.

This time around, I will determine precisely what I want and know which parts will be compatible before spending a penny. I find that I am not content to cobble together a decent bike from truly inexpensive bits and pieces. None of my bikes would ever be considered high-end, but the more I do this the pickier I become. My last build, the fixed commuter, was the first that left me truly happy and without a single regret. I wouldn't change a thing on that bike.

The trouble is that while I save money and do my research, I see stuff that would be great, but I can't pull the trigger and start. Instead I view and re-view stuff, starting with frames. Once I have a frame (or old bike to strip down) that meets my requirements, whether found online or around town, everything will be easier. I can't just pick and buy one right now though; and what if the perfect thing is waiting at a yard sale this weekend? How will I feel about a snap purchase then? Of course, much of my component shopping will be driven by frame choice. So, here I am, looking at anything and everything, pondering all kinds of decisions, many of which have ramifications for the others. I'm left in bike building purgatory, obsessing and thinking in circles about how to proceed.

This is how it will be until I feel truly ready to go, and who knows how long that will be? I can now look forward to weeks or even months of indecision and anguish. The single worst symptom of this illness is that I will love every minute of it.

Don't ever build a bike unless you are prepared to build many more.

PS - Click Here to jump forward in time to see the frame I eventually found!