Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Uh-oh. I've joined the Freaky Cockpit Crowd

First off I want to post a picture of my Fat bike with a clean drivetrain:

In the middle of winter when my drivetrain is a thing of nightmares, I may well come to this post, sigh deeply, cry a little and in the process feel a little better.

Now to the censored circle in the room, my new handlebars. I've always had a bit of disdain for overly complex cockpits. When I would see bars with all kinds of stuff on them I would think to myself "ruh roh, koo koo", and "c'mon man, who needs all this shit"? Well, the post title has already tipped you off to the fact that I can no longer sit in judgement of anyone's setup.

After fooling around with my new butterfly bars, of course what I liked best was kind of upside down and backwards from the product photos. That would have been OK I guess, had I not ended up going a little crazy with extra stuff. The censored circle:

And now, the explanation nobody really cares about, complete with handy diagram:

1 - Overly snazzy mirror, because that's what would mount properly on this bar. This thing sticks out about a foot, which is nice for its vehicular space-making features. It is awful sporty though. Or is it sporty awful?

2 - Headlight. Need one of those.

3 - Good old lock-on grips. I have always liked the solid feel of them. I removed one of the clamps so they would meet up more seamlessly with the, urg, foam. I am overcoming my aversion to foam I think. If I fail, I will have to wrap tape around all this crap.

4 - Brake hood stand-ins. When I flipped the bars they became much like normal drop bars on the top corners, and back when I used drop bars I spent most of my time on the brake hoods. I cut some old bar ends short and now they serve the same purpose brake hoods did, stoppers that keep my hands from sliding down and forward.

Advocates of trekking/butterfly bars are all about the numerous hand positions. Although there are technically 4 or 5 hand positions available to me, the reality is that there are 3 that feel good to use; on the high horizontal grips, on the "brake hoods" which allows me to rotate my wrist 90 degrees and is awesome, and the low horizontal bits for the odd time I want to hunker down.

Well, that about sums it up, riveting stuff, I know!

Yer Pal,

PS - If you are a card carrying member of the freaky cockpit crowd, reach out. I'm sure we can find some sort of cult-ish deprogramming camp where we can together be brainwashed into being normal, or at least stopping here, vowing never to complexify further.

PPS - If you have ever been deprogrammed, please accept my apologies for being an insensitive jerk. Also, where was it? Can you refer me/us? Ooh! Even better, can you get me/us a discount?

PPPS - Oh man, I've dug quite a hole, haven't I? How about a nice blanket sorry for everything I've written, today and every other day. Sorry.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

The Spinny Bits

After mentioning that my Fat bike had become my number one commuter, of course I ended up riding my "skinny" (32c) tired bike for a few weeks and man, has it ever been good. It's almost like I enjoy riding bikes no matter what type; go and figure! The reason for the switch was that I was getting the fat front wheel rebuilt on a Hope Fatsno hub. The rear had been Fatsno'd a year ago. Over last winter I found that the front hub, which was fine above freezing, was still gumming up and dragging when things got cold, but the rear spun really well in all temps.

The build was delayed by the fact that Outspokin' Cycles was having trouble getting black spokes in the size required - I guess all things bike are in high demand these days. Anyway, they called me up with the problem and seemed rather shocked when I said silver spokes were fine - this bike was pretty well colour coordinated you see. However, I told them it was a work horse not a showpiece (they should have known that from how dirty it was). It is kind of liberating to just give over to utility and forget beauty, just go with function over form. Anyway, I now have a bike with one silver-spoked wheel:

This bike was an entry-level one with decent components but cheapish wheels. The wheels are still not high-end; the rims are heavy and couldn't do tubeless if I desired it - but given the way I'm using it, as a winter commuter beast, that's fine. I'm not going to get stranded in the wild should I suffer a flat and I'm no racer. It seems to me that if I'm gonna spend money improving such a bike, it makes sense to improve the spinny bits (hubs and bottom bracket) above all other things. After all, a bike that rolls and pedals beautifully can be forgiven most other shortcomings.

Keeping this thinking in mind, you won't be shocked that I have replaced the bottom bracket with a nice "nuke proof" brand one:

Ironically I suppose, it is colour coordinated! At time of purchase black was out of stock and the bike was still all matchy-matchy so blue seemed cool. The previous bb had been functioning fine except for a little creak that was driving me nuts. I tightened and greased and re-set a couple times, but still creak creak creak. I had to stop it. Fat-specific bbs are hard to find and stupid expensive when you do, so I just got a bb designed for a normal mtb and fitted the old plastic tube that runs between the cups to the new stuff. I wasn't a perfect fit (one side wasn't fully snug around the little gaskety thing), so I tried to make up for that by jamming tons of grease into everything. It should be fine and all spins in that lovely satisfying, silent and smooth way that good bike bits do.

Left to do is fire a new chain on there and finish decking out the butterfly bars I mentioned last time. The handlebar thing is gonna require a whole 'nuther post because you know, EVERYBODY wants to hear every excruciatingly unremarkable detail. 

About the chain though, I do want to say this: If you're riding in winter, fork out the dough for chains with some rust resistance from nickel plates or similar. I like sram chains and asked a bike shop to use one last time but didn't think to specify the more expensive type, since I usually replace my own chains. The cheaper chain they used got this awful rust/lube combo all over my bike as I just slopped lube on the chain all winter as I usually do. Please don't judge - maintaining a drivetrain in winter is not easy.

Be good, Be safe, and don't lose yer shit. Everything's gonna be ok eventually.

PS - I have a photobomber who is sneakily working against me. Mr Big Toe, who I edited out of the previous pics:

Sneaky little bugger! I'm gonna have to keep an eye on that thing!