Thursday, May 14, 2015

Dirty Kanza 200 Chronicles V2: Hardware

The "Orange Crush" gets the call
With about two weeks to go till "DK Time" I figured it was high time I made a definitive call on the rig I will use for the event. Actually, I sort of already did make the call about a week ago now. Yep! It's gonna be the ol' "Orange Crush" rig from Black Mountain Cycles. Here's why I went this way.....

First off, I should say that I almost went with the Tamland. It was neck and neck there, but a couple of key road blocks came up with regard to the Tamland that are going to keep it home, for the time being anyway. I already have begun to address some of my nits with that bike, so it shouldn't be long before I can easily reach for that rig for any event. However; I just ran out of time and resources to get it all done before the DK 200.

The problems with that bike are the gearing, which is too high for an event the distance and with the difficulty level of the Dirty Kanza, well.....for me anyway. The bike I need has to have some easy, bail-out gearing for whatever I may run up against out there, and there will be hills and wind. Probably all at the same time. The Tamland's 11 speed group meant that I had no wheels to swap over to it that were tubeless ready either. Tubeless is a must for me if I am running sub-two inch rubber. So, I either had to make a wholesale change to 10 speed on the Tamland or get new wheels. Too expensive either way for me. So, I have gotten a WiFli 11 speed 11-36T cassette for the gearing issue, but the non-tubeless issue will have to wait a while yet.

The HED Ardennes+ wheels and Nano40 TCS tires matched up perfectly
So, the BMC does have tubeless ready wheels- the HED Ardennes+- which are really nice, reasonably light wheels with a decent, wide rim profile. I took my WTB Nano40 TCS tires and set them up tubeless on these wheels and it was so easy, it really elevated my confidence in this set up. I aired up both tires with a tired, ancient Blackburn floor pump, so you know the set up is pretty tight and solid. I even lost 20 grams per wheel in weight despite the TCS version of the Nano40 being heavier than the folding version I had previously on the bike. In another plus, the TCS sidewalls are thicker, so more resistance to cutting is there, which is good to know.

Then the gearing is lower on this bike as well. At least it was until I got my new cassette for the Raleigh! Anyway, it is 9 speed and a lot less finicky. Good to have in a situation where you will be in no-man's land for a day. But there is one trump card the BMC has over the Tamland right now, and that is time.

I've had the BMC longer, and I've tweaked out the bike over a longer period of time. Replace and refine, replace and refine, until I have gotten this bike to a point where I wouldn't change much if anything. It is like an old friend to me, despite its quirks and short comings. Plus, Kansas doesn't have the screaming, steep, loose descents over and over again like Iowa has in places, and that's sort of scary on the BMC. In fact, if Kansas were like that, I wouldn't be taking either of these bikes and I would reach for my Fargo Gen 1. In fact, that wouldn't be a bad idea anyway. 

I've been using these iSSi Triple model pedals which have been nice.
 But the Orange Crush is lighter, more forgiving in ride quality, and very versatile in its own way. The front rack with the El Cofrecito bag is really great and with the added capacity of the Tangle Bag, I have all the room I need for carrying anything I need. So, while the Fargo would be great, I think the BMC will tackle the terrain in Kansas in a good way without being a handful. We'll see.....

If the roads weren't so rough there, and I had the Tamland tweaked out, it would have been the choice because of that bike's geometry, which is more stable. Even without the tubeless wheels. The Tamland will get there, but for a 200 mile event in heat and wind, I wanted to choose something so familiar that I wouldn't be worrying about how something might work or not with it. With a recent saddle change, new, untested gearing, and with the non-tubeless nature of the wheels, it all was just too much and trumped the great geometry of that bike.

The six hour ride last weekend really was the shake down cruise for my choice. I was pleased with the results, especially since I rode about three of those hours into a headwind and later I got to climb some decent sized hills to test out the gearing. So, I feel good about it now and that is all out of the way. Now it will just be getting in whatever rides I can during the next week or so, then a short rest. Right now it looks like all the pieces will come together so that I can cross that finish line in Emporia on the 30th.


TinyRVLife said...

Whoa...a 9-speed double?

Gravel_Junkie said...

If our paths cross in Emporia, and I hope they do, be prepared for a handshake. Enjoy your stuff.