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Topics - tbessie

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Own a piece of history! Handmade in Petaluma, California!

Well, recent history, built by a classic bike builder and innovator, who retired last year and is no longer building bikes. EDIT: I just learned that Bruce died recently, so... definitely no longer building bikes: :-/

I had Bruce Gordon build me this bike - a 2014 "Rock n' Road Tour" touring bike (steel frame, 53cm); used it for one trip of 750 miles, during which it performed beautifully; and have stored it in a closet ever since.

Since then, I decided I would be doing more touring overseas, for which I needed a travel touring bike (with couplers so it can be disassembled and taken on planes easily). So I commissioned a new bike, and had most of the drivetrain from the Bruce Gordon put on it.

What I have left is the following:

1. Bruce Gordon steel frame, 53cm seat tube (center to center); 56cm top tube (center to center; 53.5cm measured end-to-end); effective top tube length not much different, as top tube has little slope

2. Bruce Gordon steel fork

3. Bruce Gordon steel stem (threaded)

4. Shimano XT Bottom Bracket

5. Cane Creek 110 EC30 Classic Headset

6. Handlebars (not sure of the make, but they are good quality alloy bars)

7. Wheels: Mavic A719 touring rims, 700c, 36-spoke; Shimano XT hubs; Shimano XT skewers

8. Shimano Cantilever brakes

9. Front cable hanger, seat tube collar

I am 5'10" with average proportions, and the bike fits me perfectly.

The bare frame cost $1800 when I bought it; I'm selling it with wheels and other parts, so I feel this is a fair price.

For info about Bruce and his bikes, take a look at his (now mostly defunct) web page:

No trades, Price firm; If purchaser does not live locally (San Francisco area), we can arrange shipping method and price at that time.

Contact Info: Please contact me via this site

Gear Talk / 32x650b touring tires, anyone?
« on: March 17, 2018, 05:47:40 pm »
Hey all...

So I'm having my dream touring bike built; I decided to go for 650b wheels, as 1) this is for an S&S coupled bike, so it'll be slightly easier to fit in the case without as much playing with the parts, and 2) it seems like 26" will be slowly dying while 650b will be slowly taking its place.

I'm not sure how true any of the above is, but after lots of discussing of this with people, this was the route I took.

In any case, the frame is being built right now (by Steve Potts, made of titanium), and the wheels will be built by a good local builder (the guy who builds the wheels for Rivendell).

So it was time to look for tires.  I was just going to get some of the good ol' Schwalbe Marathons that I've used in the past on my 700c bike... until I found, they don't make them in that size.  Anything they do for touring in 650b is wider than that.

So I've been looking around, and 32x650b is almost nonexistent... almost nobody makes such a tire.  The few I've found seem to be marketed to mountain-bike-oriented people for that cohort's city bikes... slick tread, "fast" etc... not so much for touring.

Has anyone got some ideas about what I might try?  All I've found after searching the major sites have been these two:

Those might do ok, but they're not as tough as the touring tires I'm used to.

Anyone have any suggestions (besides telling me I made a mistake getting a 650b bike? ;-) ).

- Tim

Gear Talk / Best brakes and wheels for S&S Coupled touring bike?
« on: November 16, 2017, 03:10:17 pm »
Hi all...

So I currently have two touring bikes - one is a Bruce Gordon Rock n' Road Tour; the other is a Surly Long-Haul Trucker that I had chopped into two and S&S couplers put on.

I like them both, but I'm currently attempting to consolidate my road and touring bikes.

For the touring bikes, I decided to get a custom-made titanium frame to cut down on weight, S&S-coupled, and as part of this I want to choose brakes and wheel size to better fit in the S&S case.

I visited the frame-maker last weekend, and discussed options with him. I asked him how he felt about getting 26" wheels and mechanical disc brakes to reduce packed size for the bike in the case. He said that that might work, though he felt that 26" was slowly dying, and that 27.5" (650b) might be a better choice. He also showed me a cantilever brake he thought might also work well (a Paul Racer Medium brake).

If any of you have an S&S coupled bike and have some knowledge in this regard, what do you think would be best for 1) compact size in S&S case and 2) future-proofing (to some extent) the bike?

As it is, my current coupled bike is 700c with cantilever brakes, and the wheels barely fit in the case (and I have to remove the tires), and the brakes poke up and get in the way a bit. I'm not sure if other styles of cantilever brakes, or even mechanical disc brakes, would make it easier, as I haven't tried them yet. Also, the builder commented that sometimes packing in a case could dent the disc rotor, which wouldn't be a fun thing as it could cause uneven brake performance, noise, etc.

I was thinking that caliper brakes would probably be the least bulky, but I've been told that they aren't dependably strong enough when, say, going downhill fast fully loaded.

So - any opinions, thoughts, or suggestions?

- Tim

Long tale of mechanical adventure here to get to my very simple question, so please bear with me. :-)

So I have two touring bikes.  I bought a Bruce Gordon for my 50th birthday present to myself, and have used that to tour around the US.

I also wanted to tour in other countries; specifically the UK, for now (I live in the US).  I wanted to get a bike that had S&S couplers on it, so I could save a bit of money on baggage fees (and also make it easier to get the bike from place to place).

My dream bike would have been a Co-Motion Americano, but I couldn't afford that.  So last year I bought a Surly Long Haul trucker, brought it to Rex Cycles in Sacramento, and had him put couplers on it.  Then I had it repainted and put back together.

This is the bike I took with me to bike from Cornwall to Edinburgh last year.

This year I'm going back to do a tour of Scotland.

One thing I wanted to do was to upgrade it a bit, since it has some cheaper parts on it (along with some more expensive ones).  It looked like this:

  • Off-brand cranks (triple)
  • Off-brand cassette and chain (10 speed)
  • Shimano Deore XT rear derailleur (10 speed)
  • Shimano Sora front derailleur
  • Microshift bar-end shifters

What I wanted to do was move to a dual-mode rear shifter (flip between friction and indexed), as last year the bike got out of tune for shifting within a few days of riding it.  Luckily, I passed through a town with a really excellent bike shop with a great mechanic (I think it was The Bike Shed, Barnstaple, Devon), and the guy spent an hour tweaking everything (he said many things were out of whack) and only wanted to charge me like 5 pounds for it (I gave him more anyway ;-) ).

I'd like to avoid that kind of situation in the much more remote regions I'm going to this year, thus the dual-mode shifters.

I had already gotten a 10-speed Shimano Deore XT chain and cassette as part of the upgrade.  It turns out that they didn't make the dual-mode shifters for 10-speeds anymore.  Luckily, I found some new old stock online and ordered it (they're officially Dura-Ace shifters, they haven't made them in about 7 years or so).  I did this because I wanted to stick with 10-speed, as it is newer, and also the 9-speed's largest cog is slightly smaller than the 10-speed's.

The shop put them on, and then found that the rear derailleur didn't work well with those shifters.

Around this time, the guy who was working on my bike (who had done a lot of touring) quit, so I was left with my bike in a half-completed state.  Luckily, the place I originally got the bike are very experienced, so I brought it to them.  The owner has also done a lot of touring, and he realized that these shifters needed a different rear derailleur; there was another XT that would work, but the cable routing was wrong for the Long Haul Trucker, so we had to go down a level to a regular Deore.  He also found that the front derailleur (Sora) didn't work very well with the new shifters, so he experimented a bit and found that a Ultegra front derailleur worked very well.

So now I had:

All fine, everything works well.  However, my question is - did I do myself a disservice doing all this, since I had to "downgrade" somewhat from XT to plain Deore rear derailleur?  Has anyone found it made a big difference in their shifting, to go between those two?

- Tim

Gear Talk / Anyone here use Rok Straps?
« on: March 22, 2016, 12:49:33 am »
I was searching on another forum about the best bungies to use, and someone mentioned using RokStraps:

I got some of them and used them on my last tour - quite useful, indeed! Better than regular bungies, more dependable, easier to use, etc.

Anyone else discovered the Joy of RokStraps?

(I don't work for them, just a convert, that's all ;-) )

- Tim

General Discussion / How many bags do you carry on your bike?
« on: March 22, 2016, 12:46:51 am »
I tend to like things tidy, and for some reason I just HATE handlebar bags (the way they look, having something sitting right in front of me like that, etc).

On my last tour, I just used Ortlieb front/back rollers, and bungied my tent and sleepbag, etc. to the top of my rack.  I ran into a couple that were on a long-distance tour (more than a year around the States), and they had the same setup, except they put their tent, sleeping bag, etc. into an Ortlieb Rack-Pack and had THAT on the top of the rack.  I've since gotten one of those, and will use that in my next tour.

I don't understand why people don't mind having more than 5 bags on their bike; the handlebar bags, piles and piles of extra stuff on top of the wrack, triangle frame bags, etc. seem somehow like overkill to me (and I'm far from a minimalist).

If you're someone who puts on more than those 5 basic bags - why do you do it?

- Tim

General Discussion / Flying with bike racks...?
« on: March 21, 2016, 04:25:49 pm »
Hi all...

So I'm having a Surly Long Haul Trucker outfitted with S&S couplers (sadly they stopped making the LHT Deluxe, which already had them), and am going to take it with me to the UK for a several-week tour.

I was trying to decide if I should buy racks there instead of bringing them with me.  I get 2 checked bags and a carry-on, and the bike is one of the bags.  That would mean I would need to have almost everything else in the other bag, including racks.

Has anyone found racks fit in a checked bag along with other travel essentials?  If I would have to check 3 bags, the cost would go up.

- Tim

Gear Talk / Single pair of shoes, or bike AND walking shoes?
« on: May 20, 2015, 05:49:31 pm »
Hi again...

So I was hoping to be able to eliminate my walking shoes on my tour, since they take up quite a bit of room; I don't want to get Keen sandals as so many do, as I'm doing the Pacific Coast route and it might not be warm enough for sandals all the time.  So I bought a pair of dual-duty mountain-biking shoes (I'll be putting SPD cleats on them) - recessed area for the cleat and grippy sole, the cleat doesn't touch the ground when walking.

Anyone do that? Any negatives to that that you've found?

- Tim

Gear Talk / Touring without fenders - big mistake?
« on: May 19, 2015, 08:52:45 pm »
I never had fenders installed on my touring bike, and don't really like them.  In my years of riding - and days of touring in heavy rain - it didn't seem so horrible not to have fenders.

What do y'all think of foregoing them?

- Tim

Gear Talk / How heavy is your touring bike (unloaded)?
« on: May 18, 2015, 07:16:05 pm »
I bought a Bruce Gordon Rock n' Road Tour last year for my birthday, and am finally using it for touring this year.

I bought it because of Bruce's reputation, and I always wanted one of his bikes.

One thing I'm finding, though, is that even with just racks and nothing else on it, it's super-heavy.  I know it's designed to take anything you can throw at it, and to be able to carry a ton of gear while riding over bumpy roads and such.  But it still seems a bit of overkill.

What's the range of weight-to-amount-you-can-carry of bikes out there, do you suppose?  Is your bike heavy, or just average weight for a road-style bike, say?

Riding the Bruce Gordon fully loaded feels a bit like driving a tank down the road, tho' it *is* very stable.

- Tim

Gear Talk / Touring Shoes - High Cuff or Low Cuff?
« on: May 07, 2015, 07:10:22 pm »
For road cycling, I generally get a pair of low-cuff Shimano SPD-SL compatible shoes (and have SPD-SL cleats on them).

I have a couple of pairs of mountain bike shoes with Shimano SPD cleats on them; one (ancient) pair is leather, high-cuffed; it feels more secure and comfortable for long rides to me.

I was looking around for a modern equivalent, but most shoes for cleats seem to be low-cuffed these days.

Just curious, but for those of you who use SPD cleats, do you prefer a very light shoe with a low cuff, or a heavier show with a higher cuff?

I have weak ankles, so the higher cuff feels better in some circumstances (biking, hiking, etc).

- Tim

Gear Talk / Waterproof Panniers vs Non-Waterproof + Dry Bags...?
« on: May 06, 2015, 12:16:35 am »
Hi all...

The couple of times I've toured before, I've used a pair of Ortlieb Back Roller Classic panniers, and it worked fine.  I liked the "One big waterproof pocket" idea, so I didn't have to worry much about water getting inside, or of making sure individual items were protected.

I bought a Bruce Gordon touring bike last summer, and am going to use it for the first time quite soon.  When I bought the bike, Bruce asked me if I wanted to buy some of the panniers he had commissioned that fit perfectly on his racks.  I wanted to give him business, and liked the idea of panniers he designed, so I bought them too (front and rear).  Also, when I was buying them, he made an argument for not needing waterproof panniers (he thought it was just fine to put dry sacks in the panniers for anything that needed to be protected - Bruce is famous for being rather opinionated :-) ).

In any case, I have his panniers, and I'd like to use them, so I went out and bought a bunch of different-sized dry bags from REI.  I'm sure this system will work fine, but I *am* a bit concerned that it won't be as easy or simple as when I used the Ortliebs.

This is probably a much-debated topic around here, so I hope it's not wrong for me to ask - what do you think of waterproof panniers vs non-waterproof plus internal waterproof bags?  Is there a great advantage to one over the other? Several advantages either way?  The panniers I bought don't have any external pockets, so I don't get that advantage with them.

I'd also thought of getting some waterproof pannier covers, but some experienced tourers I spoke with told me that when they've tried that, if they went through a significant downpour, water would either eventually seep onto/into the bags anyway, or would get in when they removed the covers, so I took their advice and didn't go that route.

- Tim

Hi all!

New here, just signed up for a membership, all in advance of a 2-week trip from San Francisco, CA to Portland, OR, which will be the maiden voyage for my new Bruce Gordon! :-)

My father lives in France (southwest, not too far from Bordeaux), and the last two years, when visiting him, I've been using a bike I bought there and left with him to take a weeklong tour.  This has been reasonably light credit-card touring, just rear Ortlieb panniers pretty much; I pick a set of towns I want to stop at based on interest and mileage, make reservations at B&Bs or hotels, and set out.  I plan my route generally, and when on the road use a combination of paper maps and Google Maps on my phone, as well as simply following a general directional path based on compass points and road signs, to get to my destinations.  There's always 3 or 4 or more different ways to get to the same place usually, as the French countryside is crisscrossed by a lattice of tiny farm roads (paved and unpaved), tracks through fields, minor highways, bike paths, etc.  It's pretty wonderful in that way.

In about 3 weeks I'm going to start up the coast from San Francisco to Portland, and I am wondering how different of an experience I can expect from touring in Europe.  I'm expecting far fewer ways to get to the same place, a lot more cars on the roads, more empty spaces/fewer towns along the way, etc.  I'm hoping I can mostly camp in hiker/biker campgrounds or stay in inexpensive motels along the way, but am wondering what kind of planning I might need to do for accommodation.

For those of you who have done both touring in Europe and touring in the US, what kinds of differences have you noticed that it might be good for me to be aware of?  All suggestions welcome, thanks!

- Tim

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