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Topics - peterharris

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Gear Talk / Frame Saver or T-9?
« on: July 12, 2012, 11:40:32 am »
I've got a fairly new steel-frame bike and have been caught in a couple of torrential downpours. After the first time, I didn't think much about it, wiped the bike down, and put it in the shed until the next ride. The next time I got ready to ride I tilted the bike up for some reason and orange water poured out through the weep holes on the chainstays - maybe as much as a tablespoon for each side. I started asking around for suggestions on how to protect the interior of the frame. I got rained on hard the other day but before putting the bike away I made sure to tilt it up and drain any water out - maybe 1-2 teaspoons each this time.

My LBS initially suggested a product called "Frame Saver" but they're a small biz and don't seem to be able to get their hands on any of the stuff for another month or two. They do have Boeshield T-9 which the mfgr claims is good for "inside frame" as well as for chains, derailleurs, etc: "Solvent Base flushes out old lubricants. Penetrates deeply to thoroughly coat inner pins and rollers. Dries to a clean Paraffin Wax film so it will not pick up dirt. Lubricates and protects for 150 to 200 miles per application."

Thoughts? Opinions? Ideas? I'm not sure I want to use it as a general-purpose lube or chain lube but I may be interested in it as a frame-saver.

(>> I just checked a couple of on-line bike shops and Frame Saver seems to be on back order. I checked Amazon and they don't have it but the first product that popped up when I did a Frame Saver search was ... Boeshield T-9).

Gear Talk / Gear increments
« on: June 19, 2012, 09:40:14 am »
I had a hybrid, that I've since sold, that I bought off-the-rack and that had really smooth and even increments between gears as I shifted. What the bike lacked was a low enough granny gear for the hilly countryside I ride in. I'm getting up there in years and some of the hills in my area are short but pretty steep and I wanted a pretty low gear for doing those. I swapped out the cassette and got the granny gear I wanted but I lost some of the smooth, even increments between the other gears. I suppose the bike manufacturers try to select a chainring-cassette combination that gives those nice, even increments between gears.

I want to swap out the cassette on my new bike to get lower gears but I don't want to sacrifice the even shifting the bike currently has. Is there a formula or algorithm or something that I can use to determine how many teeth need to be on each sprocket of a new cassette so that I can keep those nice, even increments?

Gear Talk / Surly Cross-Check off-the-shelf gearing
« on: January 09, 2012, 08:38:42 pm »
I really like the way the Surly Cross-Check feels and rides. I'm leaning towards it as a light touring and weekend back-roads bike. But I'm not totally thrilled with the gearing and don't know if it can be fixed inexpensively.

I currently ride a hybrid with MTB components. 26-36-48 triple in front and 11-34 or 11-36 9-speed in the back. That gives me a low gear-inch figure of somewhere in the very low 20s, I think. The exact number isn't that important but it's definitely down in granny-gear range. I like it that way. The rural area where I live has some short but nasty hills.

As listed on the Surly website, the Cross-Check has a 36-48 double in front and a 11-32 9-speed in the back. That gets me maybe into the lower to middle 30s for lowest gear-inches, I think. The bar-end shifters are capable of handling a triple (from the Shimano website). The front derailleur (Shimano Sora FD-3403) also appears to be able to handle a 3x9 combination. The technical documents on the website list it as being able to handle 27 gears with a 9 cog cassette so I'm drawing that conclusion. The crankset (Andel RSC6 36/48) appears to be available as a 26/36/48 (Andel website). And when you look at the Andel crankset on the Cross-Check, there are clearly a set of "empty" bolt holes that look like they're intended to hold a third chainring (the 26, I assume).

So ... I don't know much about these types of things but it APPEARS, based on what I'm seeing on a few websites, that I could possibly add a third ring to the crankset and get my 3x9 combination. Is it really that simple or am I deluding myself? The LBS guys said, without any hesitation, that I couldn't do that. Are they right or are they just spouting conventional wisdom? Or maybe they just don't know?

I know a lot of you build out your own bikes. I have neither the time, patience, nor money to do that. I'm going to basically buy "off the shelf" and tweak a few things. Many of you make extensive modifications and swap-outs on your bikes. I'm turning to you to enlighten me. If I can make these changes reasonably inexpensively, that would be cool. If I can't, I'm not ruling out the Cross-Check ... it just makes the decision a little more difficult.

The other bike I'm considering is the Salsa Casseroll which I have test-ridden and also like a lot (feels very much like the Cross-Check and the geometries are almost identical, thank you QBS). It already comes in a 3x9 combination but, quite honestly, the color scheme is pretty ugly, IMHO.

Thanks in advance.

Gear Talk / Brifters vs. bar-end from a convenience standpoint
« on: November 04, 2011, 02:34:13 pm »
First off, let me thank all of you who so patiently answer questions from us newcomers, questions that sometimes seem sort of repetitive. I value all the input I've received from you on my previous posts and just generally enjoy reading what you have to say, even if it's not on a topic that is a burning one for me.

I'm the guy who originally thought about "converting" my hybrid bike to a light tourer but who - after much research, reading this forum, and riding bikes my friends own - have started thinking about a "cyclocross" as a distinct possibility for the type of riding I want to do ... light touring, exercise, back-road rides in my rolling Virginia countryside. I want a "do-it-all" bike that doesn't excel in any one thing but does a few things reasonably well and many of the models sold as "cyclocross" (even the venerable Surly Cross-Check) claim that's what their bikes do. I can afford money and space for one bicycle. I don't have the inclination or money to think about buying a frame and then building it out the way I want to (whatever that could end up being). I'm going to buy something off-the-shelf.

I see some bikes I like and they're sort of evenly divided between having brifters and bar-end shifters. My hybrid is easy ... a flat handlebar with rapid-fire shifters right next to the brake levers. And all the other friends' bikes I've ridden have brifters. But as I look at the "cyclocross" bikes, all of which have drop bars, I wonder about the convenience of bar-end shifters as opposed to brifters. I clearly see the pros of the brifters - an all-in-one package that lets me shift regardless of where my hands are. I wonder about moving my hands down off the brake hoods to shift with bar-ends. I intend to test ride a bar-end bike sometime over the next few months but I was wondering what your views are about the relative convenience of bar-ends? I've done a search of this forum for previous bar-end posts but they all seem to be discussions about the durability and maintainability of brifters vs. bar-ends.

One of the bikes on my short list is, in fact, the Surly Cross-Check. It has bar-end shifters. It's currently set up with a compact double but the bar-end shifter that works the front derailleur actually can work a triple. That would allow me to later swap out the double for a triple (maybe 48-36-26) to get to 21 or 22 gear-inches. I think the current set up (48-36 and 11-32) only gets me down to 31 gear-inches. So, from that perspective I see the flexibility to get down to granny-gear range with a relatively inexpensive swap. But that may just be THAT bar-end (Shimano SL-BS77).

So many decisions. I need your help! Once I spend the money, I'm not going to be able to spend even more $$ fixing a bad decision.

Gear Talk / SRAM Apex?
« on: October 29, 2011, 07:01:01 pm »
Well ... I've decided to get rid of my hybrid and not try to "convert" it to a light tourer (for a lot of reasons I won't go into here). I'm now looking at "cyclocross" and full-on touring bicycles instead but am leaning towards "cyclocross" so I can it as an all-purpose bicycle. I haven't decided yet whether to buy a built-out cycle (which would be more affordable) or a frame/fork and build it out myself (more expensive but could pick my own components and I'd have all winter to play with it).

A couple of the built-out cycles I've looked at use many components from the SRAM Apex group. From what I've been able to glean from a little web surfing, it's a relatively new group but clearly not top-end. I don't expect to do much more than occasional credit card and lightly loaded touring until I retire in several more years. Financially, if I build-out my own, I'll need to be judicious about buying components and the Apex components seem to be reasonably affordable. If I buy pre-built, I can probably get an entire bicycle with Apex components (mostly drivetrain) and spend less than if building-out myself but will have to be satisfied with everything else that comes with the cycle.

What have you heard about the Apex group? Anyone have personal experience with that group?

Routes / GAP Trail tunnel detour?
« on: October 05, 2011, 07:15:01 am »
I'm planning a short trip up-and-back on the Great Allegheny Passage Trail the few days before Thanksgiving (probably Nov 21-23). I'm going north from Cumberland to Rockwood then returning a couple of days later - that part of the trail has me going through the Big Savage Tunnel. In reading the website and maps put out by the trail organization, I see conflicting information about the annual closing of that tunnel (due to weather, I presume).

Their web-based maps say the tunnel is closed from late November through early April and that there is NO easy detour. But their annual TrailBook says the tunnel is closed from early December to early April and that there’s a seasonal detour. I e-mailed the trail org a few weeks ago about the conflicting information but haven't heard back from them.

Does anyone have any experience/information about this? I'm less concerned about exactly when the tunnel closes (although early December would be better) than I am about knowing what the seasonal detour is. I've searched their website and the TrailBook high and low and can find no information about the "seasonal detour." Not being familiar with the area, I'm reluctant to guess at what a detour might be.

Gear Talk / Could a cyclo-cross bike do?
« on: September 26, 2011, 09:50:51 am »
I'm not a "serious" tourer ... yet. I'm building up to it via weekend trips and eventually week-long trips. When I retire in a few years I want to start doing longer trips. I have too many other "distractions" right now - hiking, backpacking, kayaking, running, along with cycling. And with those activities comes gear and I'm starting to overrun with gear and run out of storage space - or at least that's what my wife thinks and if she thinks that then I pay attention. Peace in the household is a wonderful thing.

I have one bicycle - a Trek 7.5 FX hybrid - that I'm making do with for now. I am not going to be able to get away with another bike - one is all SHE can tolerate and all I really have room for - but I want something a little more suitable for the type of touring I'm doing now and expect to do over the next few years. An experienced cycling friend of mine has suggested a steel frame cyclo-cross bike as a compromise that might be appropriate for some touring and that would still be okay for the type of fitness and general riding I want to do, too (I have no aspirations to be a pedal-to-the-metal roadie, BTW). I really want a bike that does everything but I know there's no such thing ... I'll have to settle for something that does a few things pretty well but doesn't excel in any one thing. Budget is a consideration, too - can't afford a custom bike. I am okay with compromise.

I do value your opinions and thoughts on this, particularly since it's probably repetitive. You all seem to be genuinely interested in getting the less experienced of us out on the road more often to enjoy touring. I appreciate the variety of opinions - even though many of you take distinctly different views on a subject - but that presents options and alternatives to me I probably wouldn't have thought of on my own. I almost always go away from this Forum with the kind of information I need to make an informed decision. So, I'll thank you in advance for helping me out!

Gear Talk / "Converting" a hybrid bike
« on: May 16, 2011, 08:21:28 pm »
I bought a hybrid (Trek 7.5FX) a year and half ago, thinking that was the type of riding I'd want to do ... general fitness, bike paths, and that sort of stuff. Then I went on my first credit card tour with friends about 7 months ago and loved it. I now want to give touring a more serious try, starting with a few long weekend trips - solo or with friends if I can find any to go along. I'm not inclined to buy a true touring rig unless I discover I really am serious about it. My budget can't cover the cost of another bike so I'm considering trying to upgrade what I have for now.

I have a rear rack and panniers. The bike has a carbon fork but I've found a front rack that will work - OMM Cold Spring or Ultimate Lowrider. After doing a lot of reading on this forum and elsewhere, it appears the biggest issue with the bike is the funky, trendy spokes on the wheels - 20 spokes front and rear, unconventional pattern - fine for a general fitness bike on a bike path I guess but definitely nowhere near the 32-36 conventionally arranged spokes I probably need to have for a (mechanically) successful long-weekend tour.

So ... new wheels. I'm going to give my LBS a try but - as much I love the guys - they're into mountain biking and cyclo-cross but not so much into touring. I can probably swing $200-$300 for a new wheelset, maybe a smidge more. I am overwhelmed by the choices though so I'd like you out there to provide some advice (which I've valued very highly so far!). When I look on-line, the common components I tend to see in a wheelset in this price range tend to be Shimano Deore or Tiagra hubs, Mavic or Velocity Dyad rims, and 36 DT (?) spokes. The principal thing that means to me is that some combination of those components from a range of on-line sellers yields a wheelset in the price range I can afford. Beyond that ... I am clueless.

Suitability? Durability? Decent components? Best place to buy?

Newbie needs help!

Routes / Tidewater Potomac Route options?
« on: April 21, 2011, 10:55:29 am »
I'm considering a long-weekend bike trip with a few friends in the next few months and am looking around for possibilities. We all live in the Washington, DC area and don't want to do the obvious, which is the C&O Canal path. It appears we could shorten the Tidewater Potomac Route by crossing the Potomac River on the Rt 301 bridge near Newburg, MD. The fact that that bridge is a two-lane bridge with no bike or pedestrian lane is a little worrisome. The rest of Rt 301 on either side of the bridge is a four-lane divided highway so is less problematic. I have no hard data but am guessing a shortcut like this could reduce a normally 378-mile, 6-7 day ride down to a do-able long-weekend ride.

Has anyone attempted a shortcut like this? If so, would you be willing to share your experience with the shortcut, the Rt 301 bridge, and possible back roads that would enable us to re-join the regular ACA route east of Fredericksburg?


Gear Talk / Front rack on a carbon fork?
« on: March 13, 2011, 09:04:51 pm »
A year and a half ago, I bought the first bike I've had since college. I assumed I'd just be interested in using it for fitness and general riding around so I got an aluminum-frame hybrid with carbon forks. I joined a bunch of friends last October for a weekend-long "credit-card" tour - bought a rear rack and smaller panniers for that trip. I had a fabulous time and I think I'm hooked. I want to do my first solo trip this summer (4-5 days) and I'll need a front rack and larger panniers for the rear as well. The panniers are no problem, it's the rack that I have questions about.

Should I really be using a proper touring bike that can easily accept front racks? Probably, but it's not in the budget. I can swing a new front rack and rear panniers but a whole new (or used) bike is out of the question right now. I've done some reading and have asked the place where I bought the rear rack so I sort of know the "official" answer but I'm hopeful I have options - is it at all possible to somehow adapt a front rack to work with carbon forks? I've seen adapters and clamps that help a front rack fit front forks that either don't have fittings for mounting or don't have them in the right place. But in every case there's a warning that says NOT to use them on carbon forks. I do understand that over-tightening clamps could crush the carbon forks. But is there no way at all I can make this work?

I'd appreciate your advice and help. Thanks!

GPS & Digital Data Discussion / Good multi-sport GPS unit?
« on: December 09, 2010, 09:30:10 am »
I'm planning ahead and looking forward to my REI dividend and 20% discount next spring!

I need a good multi-sport GPS unit - biking, kayaking, hiking, backpacking. I have an older, bottom-of-the-line Magellan that no longer works. I'm looking for something I can use for all these outdoor activities and have a basic list of wants:

Screen you can read in daylight
Detailed maps (downloadable or on cards) that include coastal/navigation and trails
Runs on AA batteries
Can operate with gloves on (nice but maybe not mandatory)
Rapid signal acquisition
Color screen

Beyond that, I'm not sure what else I'm looking for but am totally open to suggestions. I'd like to try to limit the cost to $300-$400 maximum retail price. I was never very pleased with the way the Magellan operated and am sort of leaning towards a Garmin this time. The Oregon 450t looks like it has all the stuff I'm looking for but it's a little pricey (for me). It may be that I'm expecting too many features for the price I want to pay.

What have your experiences been? What manufacturers/models do you like and not like?

General Discussion / "Off-season" training
« on: November 26, 2010, 08:49:05 am »
As much as the weather will permit (I live in the D.C. area) I plan on riding through the winter. However, there will be those times when it's too cold, rainy, snowy, icy, whatever, and I just won't want to go out. I just bought a trainer and it came with a racing-oriented training video. That's a nice bonus, I suppose, for someone who wants to race but it's not what I think I want to use. But I also don't want to be staring at the blank basement wall for 30 minutes to an hour while I get a good indoor "ride." Using this trainer in the upstairs where the TV is located is a non-starter with my wife so I may have to buy a second TV or use a spare laptop I have lying around (not ideal but it may have to do for a while). And I have an iPod for music but that sometimes gets old.

Have any of you used training videos you would recommend - more oriented to just helping me stay bicycle-fit during the "off-season"? I run and kayak year-around but I want to stay on my bike as much as possible, too.

General Discussion / "Emergency" saddle adjustment?
« on: October 20, 2010, 09:54:33 am »
I'm doing my first mini-tour - a 65 mile long-weekend credit-card ride from DC to Harpers Ferry; one day up and another day back - about 9 days from now. It will be rail-trail and local backroads up then C&O towpath back ... nothing particularly strenuous from a miles and hills perspective. I routinely do relatively fast 30+/- mile rides on those trails but did my first 40+ mile ride a week ago. I never had such saddle sore ... it set in after about 35 miles and was VERY uncomfortable. I could adjust the way I sat in the saddle to relieve some of the pressure on my perineum but am at a loss for what to do for a permanent fix given that I have only 9 days before beginning the trip.

I'm going to my LBS this afternoon to ask their advice but as an "emergency" fix I wonder if it makes sense to cut up my existing saddle? I ask only because I mentioned this to a friend while backpacking this past weekend and she said she knew a guy who cut a long, thin strip out from his saddle right where the perineum is and it worked for him. He liked it so much he patched it up with duct tape and is still riding that way. It may not be pretty but it works for him. The saddle I have on my Trek bike is the stock Bontrager "H2 Flex Form" which I can't even find on their website but it most closely resembles their "Nebula Plus" saddle which is MSRP at $60. I am willing to pay considerably more for comfort but don't have time to really test-ride any saddles. Bontrager has an "Unconditional Comfort Guarantee" which is something and my LBS sells those so I suppose I could try one of those for the trip.

In the meantime, what do you think of the emergency fix? Is it likely to make things better or worse? Is there some other saddle adjustment I should try first? Change the tilt? It's pretty much dead-level now. Move it forward or backward? I did notice if I slide myself to the very back edge of the seat it took pressure off the perineum but it also felt like my legs were reaching further for comfortable "normal" pedaling. I seem to have little or no problem with pain or discomfort on my sit bones.

I want to - and think I can - totally enjoy this trip. I view it as a prelude to longer tours in the future.

General Discussion / Newbie has pannier capacity question
« on: September 09, 2010, 08:21:47 am »
I am embarking on my first ever tour at the end of October with several friends. It's a "credit card" tour over a weekend ... one day to ride to the destination (staying in a rented house), one day at the destination, then a day to return. I have NO touring gear and am totally undecided on what size panniers I should buy.

I "test packed" the things I think I'd need - clothes, toiletries, first aid kit, tool kit, and not much else - in a paper grocery bag so it would be easy to measure. I didn't tightly pack anything so I know I could squeeze in a little more but the total volume came to about 1,550 cu in. I do some hiking and backpacking so I know how to pack efficiently and I lean towards a pannier with compression straps, like my backpacks. I'm not necessarily ready to buy high-capacity panniers on the chance I may not ever want to do any long-distance touring but I realize if I buy panniers with a capacity more suited to a credit-card tour then I might have to buy additional panniers later if I do decide to do some long-distance touring.

So ... what should I do?  :) I could buy lower-capacity panniers in the 1,700-1,800 cu. in. range to allow room for error and with compression straps I could snug down a smaller load. Or I could buy a pair that is in the 2,500-2,800 cu. in. range, only use one of them for this trip, and have the option to use the other later, if that makes sense. If I were made of money, the decision would be easy!

I know I'll probably get a different opinion with every response to this post but I'm sort of in a quandary since this is all new to me. I value everyone's input and suggestions and I do have a few weeks before I must buy something. The retail cycling stores in my area carry practically nothing in the way of panniers so they're not much help. BTW, I think this touring business will resonate strongly with me (similar to my affinity for backpacking and kayaking trips) so I am totally willing to buy SOMETHING rather than borrowing someone else's gear. Plus, the friends I'm going with only have enough gear for their own use so that's not an option.

Thanks in advance for your help!


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