Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Project Gravel Bus: The Arrival

I mentioned a few days back in the last "Project Gravel Bus" update that this frame and fork should be arriving soon. That ended up being Monday. It's here! I am pretty happy with the outcome as well. Obviously, it will be a bit before I get this built up and rideable, but in the meantime, I wanted to give you all my first impressions.

The Color: I have been making fun of the choice to describe this yellow colored frame and fork made by Twin Six by dubbing the project and bike, "The Gravel Bus". But, I had never laid eyes on an actual frame and you know, I could have been way off on the color, which would have been a bit embarrassing. However; once the wrappings had been removed, and I sat the frame on the counter, both Andy and I said, "That's definitely School Bus Yellow!", almost in unison. So, there is no doubt in my mind that I have dubbed this bike correctly, for myself. If you want to call your Twin Six Standard Rando v2 which is the same color as this, "Saffron", well - you be you! Call yours whatever ya like, this one is "The Gravel Bus" without any doubt now.

The name will be, for somewhat obvious reasons, ironic since this is a one passenger 'bus' with one gear. But it will be plying the very same roads that our rural school buses run, and I think that ties in with the color and name well enough. This also dictates the accessory color as either black or something close to school bus yellow. No purple ano here, as one poster on Instagram suggested on an image I posted there.

On the down tube above the bottom bracket.
The Frame: I remember when I reviewed the first Standard Rando five years ago that many readers wanted to know, "What steel is that made from?" Well, when I asked Twin Six about that I got radio silence. I never did find out anything specific about the frame's steel butting, tubing diameters, or other esoteric details one might want to go down a rabbit hole on if they are a "cork sniffer" of steel frames.

So, it came as no surprise at all to me when I pulled off the wrappings and looked at the traditional place where you'd find a frame sticker that there was some cleverly worded scribing rendered in a nice font that, among other things, said "Built From T6 STANDARD Steel Tubing. Meets RIDE & SMILE spec." Yep.......typical Twin Six right there! I love it! Take that you frame tubing snobs!

But seriously, this tubing, in all likelihood, is double butted and it is swaged and slightly manipulated in various areas. The bottom bracket shell is reinforced, and there are some nice, but not spectacular, welds going on here. That bottom bracket is a PF30 bore, and I know some of you are rolling your eyes at that, but this allows me to use the Wheels Manufacturing PF30 Eccentric insert for a single speed tensioning system. Going geared? Just get the same company's thread together PF30 bottom bracket.

That 44mm head tube is also reinforced. Note the pump peg. (Hooray!)
 The head tube is fairly tall and the seat tube is long on this frame as Twin Six goes for a traditional, "level" top tube look with clean lines. I certainly will not have a lot of seat post exposed on this build! I already measured that out and verified that. I will be using a Shimano PRO Carbon post on this, by the way.

I've mentioned the frame geometry several times here, but in case you are new- The head angle is 72° and the bottom bracket drop is 75mm. Chain stays are 435mm, and the fork offset is 45mm. All pretty "in the ball park" numbers for me. Maybe not for you, but I like it.

Tire clearance is listed as 700 X 43mm and 650B X 48mm max. I have seen 650B X 47mm+ in this bike, (Andy of Andy's Bike Shop has a black one with 650's), and the clearances are good. I suspect I won't get anything larger than a true 45mm in this in 700c, but I am okay with that. I have other, 'big clearance' bikes from which to choose.

The frame also has rack mounts, which I'll likely never make use of, but who knows? The frame can also take full coverage fenders as well. Again- something I'll likely not do, but the mounts are there none the less. There is a pump peg! Love that! Also, on this size 57cm, Twin Six has added an additional water cage mount to the underside and one on the upper end of the down tube, inside the main triangle, for a total of four bottle mounts on the frame. That's double the amount that the original T-6 Standard Rando had.

The painted to match, full carbon constructed fork.
The Fork: As I have stated earlier, I could have gone with the steel fork, but I opted for the carbon fork, which is stem to stern carbon- No aluminum steer tube here!

I did this to save weight, not giving up anything to ride quality, according to insiders at T-6. I was a bit worried that the steel fork would have been better riding, but they did change that to a tapered steer tube steel fork, and that generally makes the fork far stiffer. I think a lot of people forget how much the steer tube is what is forgiving toward the rider on choppy terrain when discussing smooth riding, straight steer tube forks. That taper in the steer tube really stiffens a fork up.

So, despite the fact that the fork legs on the carbon fork are massive, I feel the insider at T-6 was correct, it wouldn't matter, in terms of ride quality, which fork I got. Steel rode just about as harshly as carbon, is what I was told. May as well opt for weight savings and choose the carbon fork, is what I thought. So that's why I opted for the carbon fork.

When the fork came out of the box, I handed it to Andy and he just said, "oh my!" and his look of envy was apparent. Yes, the carbon fork saves a fair amount of weight. Typically, in my estimation having swapped a bunch of forks out in my day, you'll save about 500 grams or so going with a carbon fork over the same geometry steel one. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but that's a ball park figure only. We never weighed the steel fork.

The nice thing here is you get the Triple Boss mounts on each leg, and interestingly, they are canted slightly back toward the rider. Not dramatically so, but it is noticeable. Of course, I'll use this for two more water bottle cages. That will bring up the possible total for water carrying capacity to six bottles of water versus two on the old T-6 Standard Rando.

There are the through axles here as well, and like the one on the frame, the fork is a 'through-bolt', technically speaking, with a hex head wrench compatibility for installation and removal. You can also mount fenders to the carbon fork if you so desire. Finally, the brake hose is partially internally routed through the fork crown and exiting on the inside of the left fork leg.

The whole kit-and-caboodle. Plus a bonus pair of bottles, some Molten Chain Wax, and two bar ends. (I have no idea what that's about!)
So, that's about it. However; if you have questions feel free to hit me up. Or go to Twin Six's Standard Rando page here.

Miscellaneous: When I opened the box I found two Twin Six "Category 6" bottles and a Park Tool tensionometer box which looked a bit beaten up. I'm a mechanic, remember that, so my first impression was "Why is there a tensionometer in here? I never thought this might just be a box, and what was inside could be totally unrelated to tools. Well, what was inside was a bag of Molten Chain Wax and two, beat-to-hell Titec stubby bar ends. Yeah.....bar ends! I've no idea what's up with the bar ends. But I can somewhat see the chain wax as I do a lot of testing of lubes for gravel travel. Maybe that's a hint for a check on the Molten Chain Wax? Most likely.

If you are sharp-eyed you'll also see a Surly cog spacer kit for single speed and that blue and white box, which is a box of handle bar tape from Marque Cycling. These are things I have gathered ahead of time. The spacer kit is something Andy was going to use and the bar tape I received on trial. Something new Marque Cycling has out, in black, of course. The rest of the parts are back at the Lab already.

Stay tuned for more soon.......

Monday, July 06, 2020

Country Views: On The 4th

It was a right firecracker of a day to be riding!
Well, I managed to get in my usual 4th of July ride in. I try to do that because it is my way to celebrate my freedom to live and move about in this country.

I know many are now focusing on the bad parts of the USA's history and social culture. Ya know what? We aren't perfect. No one said we were. I agree we have a lot of work to do, but all this negativity about certain aspects of our society isn't unifying us toward any solutions and is pretty much divisive. So, I don't buy into either side of it. Until I see positivity and a willingness to forgive and forge new realities, I believe nothing will change. As I look at the world I live in backward from 2020, yeah..... I'm not seeing any unifying actions. I don't see much love. So, I was a bit saddened as I rode this past weekend, but I know this country is the best bet in the world and somehow we will find a way.

In the meantime, I ride. Because that's all I got now. 2020 has pretty much sucked the life out of most things socially. I work, write, and ride. That's about it. I don't see many people. We aren't going out. So, riding is even more of a priority than ever these days. I'm thankful just to get outside and be able to ride. I'm thankful I can be healthy enough to do that.

So, on the 4th, I got out despite the fact that it was hot and dry, (for around here), and I wasn't complaining because I was so happy to just be able to pedal. The first sight I saw after leaving the pavement made me smile so big, despite the fact that it is a sight I've seen so many times. That didn't matter. These times have put things in a different light for me. Don't know about you out there reading this, but for me- yeah, this is a bigger deal than ever now.

These look like detassling machines, but not sure. All in a row at a storage facility South of Waterloo. 
This section of Ansborough Avenue is always good for day lilies when they are in bloom.
So, yeah- 2020 has been super weird. Check out the weather on the 4th. Dry-ish at only 40+ % humidity when we typically would be at high 60's to low 70's for that. The winds were out of the East/Northeast. SUPER odd for this time of year, which generally has Southwesterly winds almost all the time. Even the clouds were heading West. It's almost as if the world was going backward.

Got chased a bit by this, and another dog here. Friendly-ish, so no worries.
I cannot even remember taking this image! Nice barn and little American flags up the driveway.
I headed South and then East for a ways. I wanted to limit my time out there to around two hours on this hot day. I didn't want to overdo it and get myself knocked down for the count. I know I'm not quite trained up enough for a big ride on a hot day yet. Gotta work on that. Baby steps and all.....

The corn South of town is nearly big enough to be tassling out already.
We used to hope that the corn would be 'knee high by the 4th of July' when I was young. Corn was still planted 'on square' back then. Meaning that each seed hill was equidistant from all others in their row and adjacent rows as well. This allowed the cultivators to run at 90° from each pass and at 45° angles each way across the field. I recall looking at these rows as a small child from the window of a speeding 1966 Dodge Coronet. Seeing bare ground at different angles was mesmerizing, in an odd way. I'll never forget that.....

But obviously corn planting is completely different these days. And the hybrids are so vigorous that if the corn isn't 'man high' by the 4th, well, then it is a bad year. Heck, man-high is minimum height nowadays. Seven to eight feet high by the 4th is not unheard of anymore around these parts.

Rest stop. A tractor is approaching with a round baler machine in tow.
Some stunted corn in the foreground, but you can see how tall the corn is against my bike here.
I was truckin' along at a pretty good clip until I got about an hour and a half into the ride. Then I was feeling the heat. I had a slight headache going, and I backed the pace down, stopped a couple times, and just tried to chill out on the work a bit.

The roads were about 75% chunky gravel and the other 25% was really broken down, gritty gravel over hard base. I also came across a stretch of honest-to-goodness "moon dust" gravel where the limestone had been pulverized to a fine, deep powder. I think we could use a little rain again.

I saw a few of these pale white blossoms but I haven't identified them yet.

Freshly cut alfalfa hay. I love the smell of that!
Well, it was a good day out. I got right proper tired, avoided a bonk, and got home to enjoy some relaxation with the family. Not going out for anything now. Sticking around and later when it got dark all hell broke loose with the fireworks people were shooting off. That's another thing I'm not a fan of.

Oh well! It is how things are these days. I hope things change for the better in the future, but for now, I have my freedom, my health, and my bicycles, and I intend to make use of all of that. I hope you all had a great 4th of July.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Trans Iowa Stories: Flaming Out

The Braun Brothers and Charly Tri break away after 100 miles into T.I.v8
 "Trans Iowa Stories" is an every Sunday post which helps tell the stories behind the event. You can check out other posts about this subject by going back to earlier Sunday posts on this blog. Thanks and enjoy!

Sub 24. It was the mythical goal silently talked about amongst the stronger racers that were involved in Trans Iowa. The ability to do the event in such a short amount of time was, to me, also a motivation. Not that I was going to try it, but I was always aware of that being a goal for the fast guys, so I tried to make it hard to accomplish. 

How this idea ever got legs, well, I will never know. I suppose that Ira Ryan doing the first loop course in 25 hours flat was, perhaps, where it all started. At any rate, the first I ever was aware of it was when Joe Meiser won T.I.v5 in a little under 25 hours and told me he would come back to take back the quickest Trans Iowa time if anyone ever beat his time. Note- that happened, but Joe never came back. Family life and whatnot, I heard. Anyway.....

I never would have pegged Trans Iowa v8 as being a version that would have seen a serious threat to the 'sub-24 barrier', but then the Braun Brothers had other ideas, I guess, because they pushed the pace to a ridiculous level during T.I.v8. The course may have baited them into it, or maybe they had a strategy, I never did know, but after 100 miles, they set sail and tore up the road.
MG playing on a scooter at the "Secret Checkpoint" during T.I.v8

The course that year led to a small village with a convenience store at right about the century mark. Most all riders stopped here, as I had strictly warned them that convenience store opportunities were slim that year. Well, I'm not sure if the Braun Brothers stopped or not, but if they did, they didn't stay long, because they and Charly Tri, a Minnesota rider, were up the road alone after the 100 mile mark with no one else in sight. This coincided with what ended up being the flattest part of Trans Iowa that year, so they dieseled along at an amazing pace. There wasn't much wind later into Saturday either, so even that wasn't going to be an issue plus, the weather and roads were tranquil. It all added up to a record early arrival to the the second checkpoint.

By the time the three had reached Checkpoint Bravo, they were back into some heavy hills, and there would be no let up for the rest of the event. In fact, they got worse the closer they got to Grinnell. But, of course, no one knew that. So it was that Charly Tri, trying to keep pace with the Brauns, ended up having a total body shutdown after leaving the second checkpoint. He ended up limping back and calling it in there. This left Travis and Matt Braun alone up front.

Now about this time I was thinking this sub-24 hour Trans Iowa thing might actually go down. The Braun Brothers showed no weakness, and they rolled into the secret checkpoint well ahead of the time they needed to make it there by to stay on track for that miracle time. Amazingly, they appeared fresh and light on their feet. One of the brothers even stooped down to fix a young girl's bike there! This was one of the most touching, amazing shows of caring I ever saw. I mean, where else would the leader of a difficult bicycle race take the time to adjust a child's bicycle for them? 

The co-leader of Trans Iowa v8- fixing a kid's bike while the event was in full swing? Yep! One of the most amazing things I ever saw at a Trans Iowa.
 And think about that- The leaders of Trans Iowa, so confident and calm that they felt they could take care of a kid's bike, and still win the event! I just am still completely blown away by that moment. Things like that made me very proud of what Trans Iowa was. It still does. This is something I'll never forget about the event.

I was hoping the Braun Brothers would prevail, but secretly I was also hoping they would not break that sub-24 hour barrier. Why? Maybe my pride in designing tough courses was at stake. Maybe I would see it as my work being 'lame' and it was too easy? Not sure, but I was doing calculations like some mad scientist trying to figure out when the Braun's would cruise into Grinnell. At Checkpoint Charlie, it still looked like it would be an easy feat for them to accomplish a sub-24 Trans Iowa.

The next stop up the road would be in a small college town and I found a spot where I could sit and observe any Trans Iowa riders going down a bike path into this town without the riders knowing I was there. Perfect! I wrestled with more math, and determined that at the rate the Braun Brothers were going, I should be seeing them before much longer. A need to relieve myself could wait. They'd be there and then I could go find a restroom. It was dark now, and getting colder......

One of the Braun Brothers at the last convenience store on the T.I.v8 route.
And I waited....... Man! I really gotta go, but they should be here any minute! So I tried waiting longer, and the time went by I thought that they should have gone by, and...... Man! I REALLY gotta pee! 

I furtively looked around for a place to discreetly relieve myself. I ended up in a nearby construction firm's parking lot and found my nirvana. Then it was back on watch! Just one more example of the weird situations I got myself into putting on Trans Iowa over the years.

Anyway, the Braun's were slowing down. Not to be wondered at either. But even at their slower pace, they had so much 'time in the bank' to withdraw from that a sub-24 was still in the cards, even at this late point into the event. They reached the last convenience store on the route, 90 miles out, at around 11:30pm on Saturday evening. They had until 2:00pm Sunday to finish. It was a slam dunk they would win. I could see no other outcome.

Then, at nearly 2:00am, with over eleven hours left in the event, the phone buzzed to life. It was one of the Braun's. They were disoriented. They had been off course several times. "....yeah, we're done. Just not feeling it." They reported that they were in a ditch just North of I-80, delirious. Someone was coming to get them. I asked them two or maybe three times if they were sure they were done. Yes, came the answer. With a mere 57 miles to go, they were out. Flamed out.

It was a stunning turn of events, and I don't think I have ever heard of anything like it since. The event now was completely changed. There would be no sub-24 Trans Iowa, as the next chasers, Eric Brunt and Troy Krause, were not on pace to get into Grinnell in under 24 hours from the start. Things swung a totally different direction, and the end game of Trans Iowa v8 would be very different than I thought it would be. In fact, it was weirder than I ever could have dreamed.

Next; Broken Bikes and Broken Fellowship

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Happy 4th of July!

From the desk of Guitar Ted Productions- Happy 4th y'all!

Happy 4th of July!

From Guitar Ted Productions to all you USA folks, I hope that you have a safe and happy 4th of July.

Especially in these times where we are socially distancing, it is important to take some time to reach out to friends and family during this weekend. Many will be doing things alone or with immediate family only, so take a moment to text or message an important person to you over this holiday. Or two.... Or three.....

I'll be out riding. I hope to have a "Country Views" post up Monday. In the meantime, enjoy the weekend and look for another "Trans Iowa Stories" post tomorrow.

Cheers!
Guitar Ted

Friday, July 03, 2020

Friday News And Views

New Spinergy GXX gravel wheels
Spinergy Launches New Carbon GXX Gravel Wheels:

Last year I got to test out a set of Spinergy GX gravel wheels with the company's famous PBO fiber spokes. The wheels presented a different take on spokes which, in my view, do have a positive effect on ride quality for the gravel rider.

The one knock on the Spinergy offerings, in my view, was that their carbon rimmed model featured a now-too-skinny inner rim width. Well, now Spinergy has introduced a wheel set which addresses this shortcoming and more with the Carbon GXX wheels.

The new GXX features a trendy 24mm inner rim dimension and a foam-filled carbon rim construction, which Spinergy claims is more adept at absorbing gravel road induced vibrations than a typical carbon gravel rim would. Claimed weight is around 1500gms and the MSRP on the GXX wheel set is marked at $999.00USD.

The aluminum version which I tested actually weighs slightly less, so I suppose the benefit here would be that foam-filled carbon rim damping claim. Same PBO spokes, so no change there. The hubs are now Center Lock, but otherwise the same. It would be interesting to compare and contrast the new GXX with the GX wheels. I happen to still have those GX wheels around as long-term test mules, so it could be a possibility.

No- It isn't 2000 calling. These are making a come-back in 2020!
Shimano Announces Retro-RAGBRAI Footwear Comeback:

If you could suddenly transport yourself back about 20 years to late July in Iowa and find yourself on RAGBRAI, you would have noticed a bunch of the folks you were riding with were using a new cycling specific sandal from Shimano.

Back in the day, I remember a Shimano shoe representative telling us that Shimano almost killed off the sandal because the only place it ever really sold was in the Mid-West. Outside of RAGBRAI, it was dead to the world, for the most part, according to this man, and I've heard similar tales since. Eventually, Shimano did discontinue these and introduced another model in its place which featured three straps and that was immediately panned by the folks who had purchased the originals.

Many went as far as patching up their old Shimano sandals with shoe-goo and pieces of glued on rubber on the soles until they were rotting away. I recall several cyclists locally that swore by the things and were heartbroken when they finally had to give them up. But, as they say, "That was That", and time marched on. I figured these things were simply a footnote of the past. But oh no! I was sooooo wrong!

Apparently, according to the Shimano press release, a pair surfaced recently in Vietnam, of all places, and they were in supposed "mint" condition. (Odd word that- "mint"- to describe an object in pristine condition) Anyway, supposedly these odd sandals fetched the princely sum of $900.00 at auction, prompting Shimano to take a closer look. Apparently, Shimano feels it is worthwhile to issue a reproduction of the sandal for sale coming available in late October of this year. Available in sizes 38-48, the retro-tastic sandals are to retail for $130.00, but will be available only once in a limited run.

The Tweet sent out by Sea Otter announcing the cancellation of the 2020 event.
 Sea Otter Cancels for 2020:

Sea Otter, which had been postponed until September of 2020 from its original April date, has now completely called off any event for 2020. Well.....at least in the real world. 

They did announce a "Sea Otter Play" digital based event where virtual trade show booths will be shared and event challenges folks can do on their own where they live are going to be issued. Part of the ride challenges will be a fundraiser for COVID-19 relief efforts.

The "Sea Otter Play" event will happen virtually online in September.

Comments: Not at all surprised by this what with the uptick in cases this Summer. But what I take away from this announcement is two things. First- Does holding virtual trade shows work? Let's say there is some measure of success to be tangibly felt in terms of impact and dollars from holding a virtual show. If that turns out to be the case, what becomes of having live events like trade shows in the future? There is a lot of upside, in terms of cost savings, to the industry to have a show be virtual and not 'in-person' where travel expenses, shipping, and booth production costs could possibly be eliminated. Of course, there is the intangible, personal face-to-face thing, which is hard to deny, but.....

It's an intriguing idea, and considering how this pandemic is radicalizing our world, I don't think this idea is all that far fetched.

Secondly- If Sea Otter, a big social gathering and racing scene, is cancelling, what do you do if you are one of those bigger gravel events, like the soon-to-be renamed DK200? My take is- and especially for the DK200- is to just call it all off. I see no reason at all to risk having COVID-19 shared amongst unwitting riders who then take it home to who knows who. Small, locally generated gatherings? Maybe. I'd say under 100, have no pre-event gatherings or post-event gatherings and provide staggered start time options. But you know, do what ya gotta do folks. I'm just a guy in Iowa......

I've cancelled anything for 2020. I'm almost of the mind that someone on Twitter said they were considering. That being to never again go to any gravel event that decides to go ahead with a 2020 event. In cases like the old DK200, it is unconscionable to think you can have upwards of 2000 plus folks (if they would come anyway) in Emporia, Kansas and expose those citizens to whatever possibilities of COVID-19 all these folks bring with them. I think that is reckless thinking to feel that any event on that scale, or even a tenth of that scale, could get away with that idea without causing some issues.

That's all for this week. Have a safe and happy 4th of July weekend- if you are coming here from the US. otherwise, keep the rubber side down and get in a ride or three!

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Single Speed Nerd-Out: #1

Long-time single speeder here. Time to "nerd-out" (Karate Monkey circa 2007)
A while back we did a Riding Gravel Radio Ranch podcast which we dubbed the "Single Speed Nerd-Out". You can check out that link if you want to. However; this is going to become a semi-regular feature here on G-Ted Productions because (a) I like single speeds and (b) YOU have questions.

Yesterday I received a slew of questions from one reader, and as I often do, I make a post about these questions and answer them in the post. I do this to bring the answers out to many, not just a few, because I know if one of you ask, there's probably ten others wondering the same thing. (Note: Questions edited lightly for clarity) So, here we go......

Question #1: "Surly officially says their SS cogs are compatible with 6- to 9-speed 3/32" chains. Would a 10, 11, or 12 speed chain work with their cogs?"

Answer: Nope! Well.....maybe the ten speed would, but the thing is, the space between the inner plates gets narrower with each incremental rise in cassette cog count compatibility. So- the length of each link remains constant on 3/32nds chain. It is the distance between the inner plates that gets less and less as you add more gears. Take a quick look at any single speed specific 3/32nds chain. Theoretically, the length of each link would interface with any rear cassette cog. The thing is though, the width between the side plates of that chain is so wide it wouldn't drop down between cassette cogs on an 11 speed cassette.  So, if the Surly cog is spec'ed to fit up to a 9 speed chain, you should respect that and not use 10, 11, or 12 speed chains with those cogs because the inner plate dimension would be too narrow to fit over the Surly cog's teeth.

Question: "I have the Surly spacer kit on a 10 speed freehub. Would an additional spacer need to be purchased to use the kit on an 11 speed freehub?"

Answer: No. Your Surly cog, or any single speed cog with a wide base- (Don't use those stamped steel, el-cheapo single speed cogs, or a single cassette cog for single speeding) - those type of wide-based cogs will take up a fair amount of cassette free hub body space, and in all likelihood, you'll end up with an extra spacer or two.

Question: "And then there's the narrow wide chainring. Any limitations on what chain you can use on those?"

Answer: No, not really. The 'narrow-wide' idea was made to interface with 11 speed chain, which as we know from above, has a narrower inner plate dimension than 10 speed chains, 9 speed, and so on. So, I have tested this with an old bit of 7 speed chain and the interface is fine. Sure- there is some slop side to side, but we don't care about chain retention with a single speed. That business is all about 1X drive trains. So, use that narrow-wide chain ring as a single speed ring all you want with a 9 or 8 speed chain for a great single speed set up. 

Question: "Some folks will use a bmx chain on 3/32" chainrings and cogs. Some claim 10/11/12 speed chains are too narrow and weak. Others say that's not true.What is up with that?"

Answer: The strength of modern 11 and 12 speed chains has been fine, in terms of 1X and 2X systems with shifting requirements that they are designed for. Of course, we already have discussed how they don't work the best for standard single speed aftermarket cogs. But, lets say they would, for arguments sake. In my opinion, for most folks, those chains would likely be okay, but yes- There isn't as much material there and heavy handed single speed mashers probably would break more 11/12 speed chains than not. But here's the thing- we don't have to use those chains

Setting up a single speed drive train should be done with regard to how you expect to use the bike. Is this an 'around town cruiser', or is it going to be used on Tour Divide? This will inform your drive train choices. Another thing a lot of people haven't looked into is chain strength measurements. I know that Wipperman has tensile strengths listed on some of their track chains and single speed chains. You can get a real burly chain from them- probably overkill for almost anyone, and never have to worry about chain breakage. But.....they are really heavy! 

This is why a lot of riders think they want to use 11 and 12 speed chains, or chains with the window cut-outs, or other silly ideas like hollow pins, etc. Just don't! The amount of grams you save is not worth the increase in risk of failures. Why do that to yourself when a good, solid, cheap PC830 will do the job all day and into next week? I don't use chains because they are light, I use them because I have had really great reliability, and long life from them. Save weight elsewhere, but don't do it with a chain on a single speed. (Bonus tip- never use aluminum chain ring bolts on a SS rig. That's really dumb.) That said, I've had really great success using 9 speed chains too, so just be aware of expectations and don't try to save weight with silly chains.

And that's a wrap for SSN-O #1.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Project Gravel Bus: Update

Parts, parts, and parts.....
Welcome to another boring edition of "Project Gravel Bus"! I hope that you find this nerdy, parts-focused post somewhat enjoyable. Here's the latest stuff I have accumulated for the upcoming build of the Twin Six Standard Rando v2 in "Saffron" (yeah.....right!), or in my world- "Project Gravel Bus".

As with any bike build, you are not really doing anything effective until you get the frame and fork connected with a headset. My choice was to pull this Cane Creek "Forty" headset from the parts bin. By the way, everyone knows that it should be spelled "fourty", not forty. But our language is a jacked-up mish-mash of stolen, borrowed, and made-up marketing hoo-hah mixed in with slang and whatever the "cool kidz" are saying these daze. So......excuse me....back on track now!

Ah......yeah. Next up are brakes because "stopping is a good thing". My choice in stoppers is from TRP and I will be using their Spyre brakes adapted for the flat mount up front matched with a 'real' flat mount brake out back along with their adapter for 140-160mm rotor in the back. Whew! Adapters! Why?! I don't know. Maybe because it's a deal where One Caliper rules them all and the Nine Adapters, sometimes referred to as the "Black Frustrators", run roughshod over our idea of what "Standards" should be. But don't ask me! I'm no "Bike Wizard" with a magic horse.

And shown here also is the mighty bag of doom and destruction from the Bike Bag Dude dubbed the Garage Top Tube Bag. The Bike Bag Dude is a wizard of the night and can conjure up baggage spells to sooth whatever carrying needs ail ya. To battle!

I also have things not shown. Not that I am being secretive, just too lazy to bring them home from the shop, or upstairs from the Lab to photograph. . These include my eccentric bottom bracket insert for PF30 from Wheels Manufacturing. The Surly Single Speed Spacer Kit is there as well. In the Lab lurks a carbon wheel set from Irwin Wheels dubbed the Aon GX-35, and my stem, seat post, saddle, and cables and housing. All very exciting things which I know you all really want to see and read about. I know...... Maybe someday! (<===HA!)

So, as you can see, there is only one major missing component, really, and that is the Twin Six Standard Rando v2 in "School Bus Yellow". (My color naming description) I hear it is coming soon, maybe even tomorrow? We will see. Late June/early July is what I was told, so we are in that window. Once it hits the floor at Andy's Bike Shop the dust will get stirred up, I'll chant a few spells of bike building wizardry, and hopefully all will settle into a beautiful new single speed gravel sled.

Stay tuned......