Sunday, October 14, 2007

New from Surly!

The blog at Surly Bikes recently announced several new products or updates on the status of some that had passed several release dates. Among these is the Traveler's Check, a Cross Check frame with S&S couplings. (Scroll down to the October 9 entry.)

Two years ago I wished I had a fixed gear frame with these couplings, which allow a traveler to break a bike frame down into small enough pieces to check as normal baggage, avoiding the punishing fees most airlines charge to carry bicycles.

I would use a fixed gear as a travel bike because it has the fewest parts to be damaged in transit and would be the easiest to slap into riding condition in an airport. The Cross Check has rack bosses, making it a better travel choice with any number of speeds. I was becoming more and more convinced my next fixed gear would be built on the Cross Check platform. This just about nails it. The only problem is that I was going to move my 2000 Cross Check to fixed gear status so I could build my tourer/commuter/explorer on the new Cross Check frame, which takes a 4-point rear rack.

The other problem with buying something new and lovable for a fixed gear is that it robs the bike of one of its invulnerabilities. When I built fixed gears originally, it was from found materials and less than top quality frames, so that theft would be an annoyance, not a heartbreak. I didn't want to give to the thieving community anything really desirable.

Time turns Trashimos into classics. I managed to hold onto the Super Course long enough to develop a relationship with it. If it had gone in the first year or five, I would have been pissed, but I would have simply gone to the scrap heap and gotten a new frame.

I do have a stockpile of frames with long dropouts in my basement. They're mostly a tad on the small side or distinctly on the big side. They're all old, possibly rusty inside, and I detect that last summer's visiting cat left his mark on them.

The stockpile

Scuzzy frames are fine for the urban scene. If the frame fails, take public transportation or walk. But here, where I have to ride a good ways just to get to the nearest town, I need something a little more reliable and comfortable for the longer haul.

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