Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Fat Road: My Retro Project

A week ago I wrote about this "fat road" idea, which you can go back and read here. Essentially, it is a slight reversal from the extreme racing bent that road bikes for the general public has been on since the 90's and especially in the "Lance Era".

Back when "fat" was still in
Of course, it is easy to write about something, be the "Monday Morning Quarterback", and quite another to actually do something. I am now putting my money where my "mouth" is on this.

I am using this old Lejeune to prove a point. It's from the 70's, probably early 70's, back when the traditional road racing bike still could fit quite a large tire. Even with Campagnolo Record brake calipers. How do I know this? Well, I tried a fatter tire on this old example of road racing technology.

My co-worker, Jonathan, has a bike with 32mm Panaracer Pasela tires fitted to it. I grabbed one of his wheels, (with his permission, of course!), and checked the front and rear for tire clearances. It would work with not much room to spare. But this is with tires nearly 10mm bigger than what passes for a racing bike today. You know, I think I could mount 28's with mud guards. Try that with your carbon bike.

Image courtesy of Salsa Cycles
Of course, I am not going to try to revive the red label Fiamme tubular rims for this bike. Nor am I going to use tubulars at all. I had entertained that thought, but when seeing the prices of fat tubulars, well, that thought went out the window. Instead, I am going to use Salsa Cycles Delgado Cross rims in silver. They look classy, have eyelets, and are relatively inexpensive. They can hold up to a fair amount of abuse, but I won't even be using them for really rough trails, so that shouldn't be an issue.

The rims are wide-ish, have a fantastic brake track, and should look the part for this old rig. These are on the way to me now, and once I get them laced up to the high flange Campagnolo hubs, I'll have a choice of a couple of tire models to put on it, but trust me, nothing under 28mm is going on this bike.

I'll have to go through the hubs, bottom bracket, and head set to replace the old, dried up grease, and then it will be adjusted back up and readied to ride. Where? Well, I plan on doing the unthinkable to prove the point. I will use this bike on gravel roads.

That's right folks. A vintage road bike equipped with a full Campagnolo period correct gruppo will be used on gravel roads. I might throw on some protection for the paint on the down tube, but otherwise, this bike is going to get used. 

You see, I think a "fat road" bike, (and this one certainly qualifies as such), should be able to go on "any road- any time" , (phrase used with full acknowledgement to the Rough Riders), so you know, a gravel road shouldn't be a big deal at all. I plan on finding out.

The implications for civilian cycling should be self evident, but mainly what will get shown here is that the road bike as we have it now are all wrong for most people. Stay tuned......

14 comments:

KansasCyclist said...

Lately, I've been riding my late-70's Puch road bike on gravel roads, with 27" x 1-1/8" (28mm) road tires, and they work fine. Not a problem at all.

Jason said...

"That's right folks. A vintage road bike equipped with a full Campagnolo period correct gruppo will be used on gravel roads."

=

Awesomeness.

Great post G.T.

mw said...

the salsa rim was my first choice but i backed off and went to openpros for some narrower tire options on my grasshopper. ha. 32's look great on openpros and clear (just barely) with fenders!

mw said...

my grasshopper started as a retro project on an old lugged trek, but i soon found out i wasn't going to get the clearance i wanted. then i plunged headfirst into custom land...again...

Leslie said...

My Rivendell Rambouillet is a steel fendered road bike that I run a 28 (Ruffy Tuffy) on the front, a 32 (Pasela TG) on the rear. I've ridden the entire Virginia Creeper trail on it. Rolls along much swifter than the 26" hybrid bikes or MTBs that most people are using.

Unknown said...

My daily ride is a (mid?) 70s Pouget I found next to a dumpster. Cheap 700c wheels, full fenders (zip-tied on)and I run 38mm up front and can get 42mm wide tire in the back. The Mafac center-pulls reach down to the 700c wheel just fine. Michigan pot-holes, grassy paths and gravel roads, all easy-peasy.
I look forward to your latest project.

james said...

Any thought of running your new set up tubeless? My understanding is fatter road tires (run at low pressure of coarse) work pretty darn well.

Guitar Ted said...

@james: Tubeless may come at some point, but to prove my point for fat road, I think I will be running tubes to start out with. That's what most average folks would be doing. So, that's what I want to start out with.

shiggy said...

No all-black tires for this bike, I hope.

Needs classic natural color skinwalls

Brian said...

Check out Fyxation's Session 700 tires. I ride them on everything (outside of real rough MTB trails) in Utah, and have been impressed over and over again.

rideonpurpose said...

I think this is cool, but I guess I missed the memo that says I can't ride my "post-lance era" carbon road bike for the same purposes...

Guitar Ted said...

@rideonpurpose: Nobody wrote a memo about that, but if you come along on some of the gravel grinders I have done and will do, you'll be dealing with issues that I won't be dealing with. That said, we'd wait for you to catch up. ;>)

MG said...

Great choice on the Delgado 'Cross rims. They will serve you well. I've even used them on my 29-inch mountain bikes, tubeless, with excellent results. If you want the ultimate ease of setup, drop a Bontrager tubeless rim strip in there. You'll need to trim a little off the edges, but it'll make your bead-up the easiest of any wheelset you own, with awesome bead security on those rims. I'm using those rims on my Vaya and on the rear of my El Mariachi singlespeed today with everything from 40c Schwalbe Marathons, to 2.25-inch Schwalbe Racing Ralphs, all running tubeless very reliably. G-T, you know how I roll...

Can't wait to see how it all turns out. This is a killer project, my friend.

Have a great weekend,
MG

Guitar Ted said...

@MG: Hey man! Thanks for that awesome tip on the tubeless set up. I am totally doing that. Cool!

Have a great week end my friend!