A new bike for me

My touring frame is a bit long in the tooth, having been built in 1978.  It was the first frame I built. It has never gotten a proper paint job and is suffering some from rust, although not as much as one might expect. Damage and changes over the years make it less reliable for a long trip. It also has a few design quirks that I would like to correct.

So I built this new frame. It has a standard touring design of 72° head angle and 73° seat tube angle. It has a fairly low bottom bracket for stability. Tubing is on the stout side for durability and rigidity with a load on rough surfaces. There is plentiful clearance for 42 mm tires.

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The Rohloff 14-speed hub with Paragon sliding rear dropouts is one feature that is a little out of the ordinary, but the biggest deviation from standard design is the long chain stays.

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Most production touring bikes have chain stays no longer than 18” (460 mm) or so (for comparison, a competition bike’s chain stays tend to be about 16” (406 mm) or a little shorter).

The longer stays on a touring bike allow the panniers to be mounted far enough behind the rider to provide clearance between the rider’s heels and a loaded pannier while pedaling without forcing the weight of the load too far behind the rear axle. It is possible to mount a rack and panniers on a bike with short stays in a manner that allows the rider to pedal without kicking the luggage on every stroke, but a load cantilevered out in space behind the bike tends to pick up the front wheel. This messes with the weight distribution, which results in vague, unstable, and/or wobbly steering. At best, this change in handling is something the rider has to get used to; at worst, it is downright dangerous. I would theorize that the tendency for Americans to try to tour on bikes with short chain stays had a lot to do with the shift in fashion from rear loads to front loads.

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The 21” (535 mm) chain stays on this frame place the center of a loaded pannier about an inch in front of the rear axle. There is almost no change in handling when a 50 lb. load is placed in the bags.  The stout Tubus rack also contributes to this loaded stability.

I went for a classic British three-speed aesthetic.  Most made it to the US in black, though several other colors were available. A steel VO stem and a steel Campagnolo Sport crank (manufactured briefly in the early 1970’s) fit in with the “all steel bike” theme, as do the SPD pedals styled to look like rubber pedals. The road handlebars spoil the look somewhat.

The bike hit the road in August, 2014, and it has been in regular use as a commuter/utility bike since. I have ridden it regularly on weekend excursions and two camping trips.  I am very happy with the design and, for the most part, the components.

More details than anybody cares about will follow.

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Campi Sport Crank with Fyxo ring

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