Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Summer of Color Coordination

Retiring the Super Course feels good. It went from beater to classic the way 1970s automobiles went from junkers to junkers with antique status. The Super Course had better structural integrity from the get-go.

None of my stashed frames seemed quite right. Then I remembered The Twenty-Dollar Touring Bike. I built a commuter on a silver 1970s (maybe EARLY '80s) Univega touring frame before I bought the Cross Check. It's incredibly heavy. The basic bike weighed at least 30 pounds with an empty rack. But it handled dirt with aplomb. I couldn't hold it back anyway, so I let it rip. Its mass and laid-back geometry rumbled over dirt and gravel without a wobble. It was too laid back for traffic, which made the Cross Check the perfect upgrade. But now its time has come again.

The Silver Bird will be a dedicated foul weather bike. I can run the Traveler's Check for days with a mere forecast of showers. For winter's glop or any season's full-on downpour, the Silver Bird will have full fenders, which also happen to be silver. These are left over from my old city commuter. I never installed them on a bike up here because I wanted to be able to strip fenders off to reduce wind resistance on early-season rides on those cold, dry, windy days. But now I have the TC.

After riding with open wheels in crappy weather, full fenders feel like coming indoors. They come around the wheels far enough to deflect all but the worst sock-soaking sluice off the front tire. With the little extra flap, they'll probably stop even that. Anyone who has not tried full fenders can't believe how they help keep the rider dry. It makes perfect sense. Water no longer comes at you from below as well as above. Your protective clothing works better when the water comes from only one direction.

It's a quirky frame. The bottom bracket shell is about 70 millimeters wide, but not Italian thread or diameter. To fit a Shimano sealed BB to it I have to use a 73 adapter on a 68 cartridge, and make sure the adapter has no lip, so it can go as deep as it needs to. On the plus side, to adjust the chain line in I could probably face a couple of millimeters off the shell on the right. Maybe later.

The best part is that it was basically plug and play. The frame still had a headset and seat post. Fixed gears having the fewest possible moving parts, those parts transfer quickly. The longest part will be mounting the fenders and rack.

Rain is forecast for tomorrow. Hmmm. Less writin'. More wrenchin'.

No comments: