Monday, August 17, 2015

Geezer Ride: Gear Review

The Pofahl custom single speed upon arriving home from the Geezer Ride.
As I mentioned yesterday in the Geezer Ride report, I did a little something different and pulled out a single speed for the ride. But not just any single speed. Nope. Likely a "one-of-a-kind" single speed. I also used a couple of other things I wanted to touch upon as well.

First though, a little background information for those of you who haven't been here reading for a long time. This bike goes back to 2007 when I had just met Ben Witt, who was the founder and owner of Milltown Cycles in Faribault, Minnesota. I had mentioned that I had an idea for a 29"er frame and fork. Ben asked me to send it to him to see, and then his wheels started turning. Using a BikeCad program, he cleaned up a few details and then suggested that I get the frame and fork brazed up by Mike Pofahl, a Northfield, Minnesota custom frame builder. This is what resulted, as seen here, a blue powdercoated single speed specific frame and non-suspension corrected fork. Based loosely off a Karate Monkey, this Pofahl Signature frame and fork was to feature a specially designed titanium handlebar. The design by Ben was sent off to a very well known titanium frame builder to have it fabricated. However; nothing was ever done by said builder. He basically ignored us, and several months later, hey, presto! He introduces a new handlebar/stem combo that looked suspiciously like Ben's design. Live and learn......

Anyway, I ended up putting a drop bar on it, and it's been that way since. It has a Luxy Bar on it now with a high rise Bontrager stem. The gearing is 38 X 18, and I have 180mm Race Face Turbine cranks, vintage 1995 on there as well. Tires are out of production WTB Vulpines, and the wheels are 2007 vintage Industry 9 single speed specific wheels with DT Swiss rims. The seat post is a 27.0mm Syncros, vintage 1994, which I used to run on a '92 Klein Attitude. I'm using a Minoura bolt on water bottle cage on that seat post for an additional third water bottle.

The ol' Pofahl handles gravel really smoothly.
So, anyway, this rig is super-smooth on gravel and with those 2.0" Vulpines, it really rolls pretty well. I was able to keep up all right with the geared folk, except when things got really flat, then some of the guys would drop me behind, but as any single speeder will tell you, the climbs are where you reel them back in. That I did.

The interesting thing to me was that the single speed has to be worked in an entirely different manner than I do a geared bike. I had to really spin like the dickens to roll the hills and many times I found myself sprinting up the other side to keep that precious momentum up. It was like intervals, in a way. I was pretty worked over, much more so than usual, from riding the single speed on this loop. Overall, it was good for me, and the Pofahl worked like a well oiled clock. Well, except for that durned flat tire!

You might notice the frame pump on the lateral tube. I get asked about my frame pumps a lot. I still have two of these left. They are vintage Blackburn frame pumps from 1995. Obviously, these are not made anymore. I may have to start looking into those new Silca frame pumps if my two Blackburns fail, which may happen any day now. I had one explode spectacularly on a gravel ride last year, I think it was. I suppose gravel travel is pretty stressful on things like frame pumps, what with all the vibrations. I could have bought a case full of Blackburns for what one of these new Silcas cost though!

The Gravel Worlds rig
The Bike Bag Dude Garage Bag I used was fine, with two nits. One was my fault. I neglected to secure the tail end of the bag with the thin, Velcro strap provided, which made the bag harder than heck to close one handed while riding. That was a boneheaded mistake on my part. The other was weird. The bag wanted to list to the port side no matter what I did. However; if I put it on my Raleigh, it is rock solid stable. I attributed this to the odd stem/head tube interface on the Pofahl that the front straps have to go around. I couldn't seem to get that tight enough, so chalk it up to an odd bike and set up.

Speaking of the Raleigh Tamland, I am choosing it for Gravel Worlds next weekend. This will be the last big "hoo-rah" for the year, a 150 miler, and the second time I've ever used a geared bike down there. In fact, the Pofahl has seen duty down there at the last event they called the "Good Life Gravel Adventure" in '09. The first time I ever used a geared bike down there was at the first Gravel Worlds, I believe. Anyway, the Tamland Two gets the nod and you can see how I have it set up in the image  here.

I've got my modified gearing, so I have a low enough gear for the Denton Wall, (hopefully), and I have my Bruce Gordon Rock & Road tires for the looser, sandier gravel they have down that way. I've got two Bike Bag Dude Chaff Bags for extra water bottles, and all I need now is a computer. I guess I'll have to buy one of those cursed things this week. bah! 

I'm looking forward to this weekend. It's gonna be awesome. Stay tuned......

No comments: