|Making it look pretty....|
Clean the bike you used at the Renegade Gentleman's Race.
It needed it too. I had some gunk stuck on the drive train that required the use of "Euro Mechanic Techniques" to get off. The dusty gravel residue was easily got rid of, but with fenders and the various nooks and crannies that a bicycle has, well..... Let's just say it turned out to be a muti-houred task.
I always say that if you really want to inspect your bicycle for an upcoming ride for potential issues, or to see what needs maintenance, a good, thorough, multi-hour cleaning session with your bicycle will show you anything that looks iffy. Your eyes will cover every square millimeter of the machine, and nothing will escape your watchful eye. At least, that's if you are not drinking beer while you are doing this!
I thought it might be good to review every bit on the bike as long as I was at it, so here goes:
Black Mountain Cycles Monster Cross Frame:
I've had this frame now for over a year and it is impressive. A nice riding, well behaved handling, good looking bike. Only one area has ever bothered me about this rig: The drop outs and their spacing. I wish that the "not-right" drop out spacing would have been spec'ed at 130mm. I ended up cold setting mine to "close" to 130mm because I hated fighting with the rear drop outs while taking a wheel out and replacing it. 130mm seems to me to be the logical spacing for a bicycle like this. Secondly, I wish it had short, track end style drops. Yes- with a derailleur hangar. The rearward facing drops would maybe make taking out a wheel less easy, but would definitely make riding the bike possible if you wango-tangoed your rear mech off in the mud, or just wanted an easy single speed option.
Otherwise, this bike rocks. (For a detailed review on the BMC, see here)
|Going back to this.|
Bontrager Satellite Carbon Fork:
I have been running this carbon fork long enough now to say that....."meh!" It doesn't really do all that much better than the steel one, as far as I can tell. So, I will be swapping out to the steel fork again, just to see if there is anything I might miss about that carbon one.
Yes, the carbon fork is lighter, but that's all the difference I can find. I don't mind the weight of the steel fork as long as it does something better/different that I like over the carbon one.
Shimano Ultegra/STX/SRAM Bits:
I have been running a weird drive train on this bike for some time now. It consists of an Ultegra crank set, compact 50T/34T rings, an Ultegra 9spd long cage rear derailleur, an STX top pull mountain bike derailleur, and a SRAM 9spd chain running a SRAM 11-34T cassette. Nothing to say here other than it works well and I want a smaller big ring!
Shifters: Ultegra STI/ Retroshift:
I left out the shifters since I've used two different set ups here. The STI Ultegra shifters are.....well reliable, and Shimano. The only issues here are expense to replace/maintain and the levers rattled against the shift paddles at times. Now I am running the Retroshift set up. Check out my take on the shifters here.
Cowbell Handle Bar: Here's something I get hits on the site about consistently- The Salsa Cycles Cowbell handle bar is awesome. Probably the best gravel grinder bar for geared set ups out there. See my initial comparo with a Bell Lap bar here.
Origin 8 Head Set: The head set is an "el-cheapo" Origin 8 unit, but it does have sealed bearings, a polished finish, and has been very reliable.
|Velocity A-23 Wheels|
The Velocity A-23 wheels have been thrashed all over the place. Rain, dust, streets, gravel, and dirt have not phased these things. I may have trued these once, but I am not sure.
Either way, I am fully impressed with the way they have performed, and, rumor has it that new A-23's are tubeless ready. Nice. The bearings are as smooth as the day I got them, and the free hub body has never hiccuped once. The rims are 23mm wide and give the tires I use a decent base to work off of. They are available in a few different versions too.
Clement X'Plor MSO Tires:
These wheels are currently shod with the Clement Pneumatics X'Plor MSO tires which I have reviewed here. Again, I have had really good experiences with these so far, and I will continue to experiment with them for the rest of the spring and into summer. Stay tuned for some updates on that in the future.
|Me on the right here....|
The Ritchey post and stem, Bontrager saddle and grip tape, and other various bits and pieces are all functioning well. All around, I have to say that the entire package here is awesome for gravel road riding fun and racing.
The Future: I originally wanted to do a custom gravel road frame, put all of my geared set up on it, and then transfer single speed duties back to this bike. I still intend to do just that, and I have further tweaks I would make to fine tune this bike to what I would desire.
That said, if it never happens, the Black Mountain Cycles Monster Cross, (or "Orange Crush", as I like to call it), is a great enough rig that I could live with it happily for years. The handling is still great to my mind, and honestly, the tweaks I would make are more to satisfy my curiousity more than fixing any "defects" this BMC bike has. As I said, other than the drop out style and their spacing, there isn't much.....well- nothing really, that I can complain about here.
So, it's ready for the upcoming gravel road rides, cleaned, no issues found, and all I have to do with it now is ride.
I intend to do a lot of just that......