Thursday, March 07, 2024

Honeman Flyer Update: Finished & Test Ride Impressions

 Okay, today y'all get to see this thing. I have to say that the build process for this was fraught with difficulties. More so than I thought it might be. While the bike is complete and rideable there will be some adjustments and probably a couple of changes as well. 

The seat collar I borrowed from Carl, my coworker, is one thing. While it works well, the red anodized color sticks out like a sore thumb. The incoming Wolf Tooth collar in black should calm that down a bit.

I also will have a Wolf Tooth through axle coming in so I can return the current through axle to the Standard Rando v2. I am still adjusting the stem/saddle set up also. 

But besides those things I think this bike is a go and I am pretty happy with how it all turned out. ironically that super-slack seat tube angle turned out to be not a big deal, in terms of set-up. I feared that I would be so far out of whack in terms of my relationship to the bottom bracket that it would be a negative, but as you will soon learn, that is not the case at all. First up, let's take a look at this thing, shall we?

A couple more notes first before I get into my impressions of the build and looks. These are Teravail Rutland 700 X 42mm tires on Velocity Blunt SS rims laced to Paul WORD Disc hubs. The inner rim width on these is nearly 27mm at 26.6mm. That's spreading out the Rutlands to look like more than their 42mm width. In fact, the rear tire measures out at 44.1mm at sub-40psi. With that there is adequate rear tire clearance all around, but a larger tire would not be advisable if I were to ride in wet or muddy conditions. That's fine, because I have a single speed with 29"er tires in the Pofahl Signature and I did not want another bike that did what I already have. 

The gear on the bike is exactly the same as I ran on the Twin Six when I had it single speed, so that is very familiar and a perfectly good gear for rolling hill terrain, such as I expect to ride with this bike. At some point I'd like to buy a White Industries 20T freewheel and replace the Shimano one, but for the time being it is good to go. 

Finally, some of you may have noticed that there is a rear derailleur hangar on this bike. I could run an AXS SRAM 1 X set up, since there would not have to be any cables, but that was not the plan going in. It's just a "happy" accident since Paragon Machine Works doesn't offer a single speed only insert. 

The Looks: Overall, I am pleased. This is the best paint job on a bike I've ever had. Runners up include the 1992 Klein Attitude in Sunset Linear Fade and my old orange Badger which was painted by Joe Bell. This Honeman Flyer takes the cake though. I'm not riding this anywhere and going unnoticed, that's for sure! 

 The logos in raw steel are super-rad. It almost looks like a part of the design of the paint since the font is so weird. You can see the tooling marks on the steel which is kind of neat as well. The colors are great. Remember, I let Li King do whatever he wanted as long as it was the signature crackle style paint, and this is what Li chose to do. I am very happy with the outcome. 

Overall the bike looks modern and rakish, not too old or stuffy, even though it is based upon a 1930's era track bike. You do see the super-slack seat tube angle if it is pointed out, but otherwise I think it looks pretty much like a "gravel bike" looks these day, only in steel with a mind-bending paint job. 

Of course, I had to put a Trans Iowa sticker on there!

The Ride: I was a bit afraid of the thin gauged steel tubing and the wispy stays, but strangely enough, this bike is pretty solid and I don't have to baby it when climbing a steep hill in a low, high-torque way. Nor did I notice much, if any, bottom bracket side-to-side motion. So, I think that, while it is definitely not the tankish, solid feeling of a Standard Rando, it will hold up fine to single speed usage. 

The whole set-back to the saddle position in relation to the crank set is fascinating to me. I felt no real big difference in seated pedaling or climbing other than that I knew I was "folded up" on the bike a bit more, which you could tell while pedaling. But getting up out of the saddle is no big deal, and cresting a climb while standing felt totally normal. 

I did notice that in cornering I could set my outside pedal at the six o'clock position and plant the bike in a much more solidly felt way than on any of my other bikes. That was a big surprise and I quite like this new feeling. 

The slack head tube (71°) did not wander on climbs or cause me to have to work harder when turning to resist any sort of wheel flop. The bike turns like a bike at slow speeds, so this was nice to find out. Surprisingly, I clipped my sole of my ginormous Giant mtb shoes in a tight corner. But I do have the cleats set waaaay back on these shoes, and they are bulky. I may not have any issues at all with "normal" gravel shoes, and this was barely a scrape as it was. 

The bottom bracket drop on this is 76mm, which is 1mm deeper than my Twin Six Standard Rando v2, and I like this a lot. It's definitely noticeable and it helps keep the saddle to bar drop a little more in check. This ain't no cyclo cross design! It feels very stable at speed and I can let go of the bars and it feels pretty rock solid. 

Of course, it has a springy ride feel. It definitely scores that "steel feel" in spades, but it doesn't feel like a noodle and it accelerates fine for me. I cannot complain about anything here. One more note: I feel more "draped over the bike" on this Honeman Flyer than I do on most any other bike I own save the Fargo Gen I. So, this is very encouraging.

So Far... I've got to do some country riding on this before I can give it my 100% seal of approval, and of course, there are some tweaks to be made which will affect the outcome overall. But the Honeman Flyer is very, very promising so far. I am planning on a final take on the bike and how it relates to today's gravel rigs in the near future. Updated: That review can be found HERE.

Thank You: I want to kick off this by thanking Erik Mathy up front. Without him this bike would never have happened, and that is not hyperbole. It was he that put the idea together with a story idea, the builder, and a trip plan for me and he was definitely the "glue" behind the scenes. Otherwise this would have been nothing more than another one of my blog postings and I probably would never have had the chance I have now to try this idea out. So, THANKS Erik!

Of course, you need a frame builder and Li King of King Fabrications was that frame builder. The frame and the paint job are all done at a very high level of talent and expertise, and Li translated the geometry idea perfectly, which was key to this being a success. Thanks!

Then I have to thank my friend of many years, Ben Witt of Heath Creek Cycles for his building the front wheel and making a way for me to get the fork and send it direct to King Fabrications, which saved a lot of time. Thank you, Ben!


tntmoriv said...

That is one smoking hot paint job, and a great looking bike! It has been fun to follow this project from the very, very beginning, and it will continue to be something we love hearing about. Thanks for sharing! And I continue to love the rotating blog header photos!

Guitar Ted said...

@tntmoriv - Thanks!!

Phillip Cowan said...

As expected it's gorgeous. If we call up King Fab and ask for the GT special I assume they'll know what we're talking about right,lol. Call me perverse but I kinda like the red seat collar. The external cable run to the rear brake is much appreciated. I'm 62 yo and 210lbs so torturous internal routing doesn't do much for my "aero" problem. Many happy miles.

Guitar Ted said...

@Phillip Cowan - Thank you! Yeah, if you called up King and asked you'd likely get this if you said what you called it, but the serial # is "CG001" which I assume is "Custom Gravel". Maybe you could get CG002? ;>)

I also was pleased to see the external route, and it is funny, but I don't recall ever talking about that with Li. Just a "happy accident", or maybe just how Li does things.

FixieDave said...

Really dig this and the story bits I’m seeing about it….maybe it’s the way I’m built but super steep seat angles have always been tricky for my hips , feels like I get put in front of the mid point of the bike…. Set back seatpost help but this is pretty interesting rig Mark!

Guitar Ted said...

@FixieDave - Thank you! The seat angle was the thing I was most concerned about and turned out to be the thing I am most stoked about. It's a bit early to make any proclamations, but this bike is making me think more people might actually benefit from a slacker seat angle than we have traditionally been led to believe. At least for this type of cycling.

That said, my brother MG will not be agreeing with this! He slides his saddle forward in the rails on non-setback seat posts as it is, so this idea is not for everyone. The thing is, cycling designers get into "traditional designs" to make things easier on manufacturing and pricing. We all probably can agree that larger riders should ride longer chain stay frames than shorter folk do, if we want to keep thing proportional, but that is not cost conscious design.

In the same way, slacker seat tube angles could be offered for those who would benefit, but that would make costs skyrocket and designers would have to sharpen their pencils. Not gonna happen.