Commuting, the right bike?
Wednesday, November 29, 2006 12.00am
Just finished building up my new commuter special, itâs based around the Surly Steamroller â a big
Just finished building up my new commuter special, itâs based around the Surly Steamroller â a big lug of a frame designed as a road fixie and tough and heavy enough to take almost anything, its come about from firstly my main road bike being just a bit too special to be used in all weathers, that and my mountain bikes drivetrain getting trashed from the 20+ miles a day of dirty riding (my winter commute is all towpath based), - my pockets not being deep enough to cope with the regular replacements, my initial thoughts for a winter commuter was a fixie, but a borrow of the test model Kona Paddywagon helped change my thoughts, donât get me wrong riding fixed on the flattish route was great until meeting someone coming the other way on the tight bits under bridges where it became a game of complete chance and having the balls enough to keep plundering on, not ideal and somewhat antisocial! Back to the Paddywagon, itâs a great bike, supremely comfortable like swinging a leg over a big comfy couch (it also gave me a bit of an awakening to the fixed thing, Iâd tried them before but the hilly terrain of Wiltshire and Somerset not being ideal for them put me off, but the idea of taking it with me when I visit my parents and my sister in law â all up in the flat bit of Lincolnshire would be great, and as Iâd seen an fallen in love with Bianchiâs all chrome Pista at Cycle 2006 (so much so I grabbed my chequebook and ordered one on the spot)) So the Surly project was born, the frameset is adorned with a set of wheels which our workshop manager has lent me until I can get my own built (they originally came from his Specialized Langster) the cranks came from El Motoâs (Dep Ed Paul V) huge assortment of track components (heâs quite into his track riding) and are from Miche, Brakes are some old Bianchi units from my wifeâs bike (she had upgraded to Campag) The stem is a circa 1990 Control Tech 1â unit from an old mountain bike from the depths of my garage, bars are the superb Nitto chromo track bars from On-One, levers are two old Dia Compe levers again from the depths of the garage junk I had lying around, bizarrely both are right hand though you canât really tell once theyâre on. Bar tape is from Deda and Celeste blue (the Bianchi colour), which complements the brown of the frameset well. Tyres I thought would be a problem as all I possess are basically various 23mm race slicks but over a Friday lunchtime meeting (read pint down the pub with guys from the office) Robin Coomber (What Mountain Bike â Art editor) suggested that for my route the 28mm Schwalbe Stelvios he used in the Paris â Roubaix sportive this year would be perfect, so another donation (It did cost a couple of beers though) and the bikes complete, yet not finished. Thatâs because my original idea was for as simple as possible a bike which would keep down maintenance, fixed wasnât an option for the purpose but I did want to run with just the one brake at the front - therefore a coaster brake had to be the way (for those who donât know a coaster brake is the kind youâd find on old cruiser type bikes where pedalling backwards operates a clutch brake in the hub), a few google searches didnât give me much hope all I could find were BMX axle widths â which could be spaced out with various shonky means, but a conversation with Paul Smith and Shaun Moulton (of Moulton bicycles in Bradford on Avon) led to them recalling Velotech a Czech company who produce (in limited numbers) a road width coaster hub, so thatâs what Iâm heading for now one brake up front and a coaster out back built up on some tough rims and straight gauge spokes so then Iâll not only have my own comfy low maintenance commuter but Iâll have one thatâs a demon for skids too! Iâll post some pics up here tomorrow
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