Some advice and a lot of first-hand anecdotes and observations from someone who accidentally had a career in the bike business.
Some well-meaning aunts gave my daughter a NEXT bike. It's funny you mention brakes right off the bat - they are un-tunable to me. I have tried, and will try again, but those brakes are driving me crazy. Maybe I'll just get into the bins and replace 'em altogether.
The brakes are awful. The shifting is never better than approximate. The bike is heavy enough to hold a large ship against a strong gale. The brand is called NEXT because you hope that your NEXT bike is a good one. Either that or NEXT you get your driver's license. The leaden bike has prepared you well for a ridiculously large motor vehicle.
It's a great bike. I mean , if you look at it from about 3 blocks away it screams EXPENSIVE BIKE WITH HIGH KOOLNESS FACTOR.
A local kid let me try one of these the other weekend. I was shocked at how poorly it brakes.
In May of last year it became necessary for me to begin commuting to work by bike. Being naive, and very cheap, I bought the $75 version of this bike and, after three exchanges, and still being cheap, I "upgraded" to the $150 version. Needless to say, at 5'9" and 290lbs, I put a lot of stress on these bikes.The compnents were crap but the frames seemed pretty strong. The wheels seemed to be the worst, they would never stay true.Anyway, they did get me to work, with a lot of hard work, and the weight began to melt away. These cheap rides also fueled my desire for a quality ride and in July of last year I bought a Giant Yukon. Wow, what a difference. (I've now lost more than 60lbs.)I now have a very nice "hybrid" for commuting and have recently, 6 weeks ago, picked up a used Fuji Roubaix for those days when I'm feeling frisky--and strong--and want to go farther, faster.However, the Fuji is not very comfortable. My friendly LBS "expert" tells me he thinks it's a bit too large for me (@ 54cm), but with a proper "fitting" he can make it work. For only $50, and without extra parts and labor, he will measure me and the bike and adjust it to a perfect fit.Cafiend, is he full of crap or what? I've played with saddle position and handlebar angle/tilt quite a bit, but I just can't seem to get it right. I figure I need a stem raiser or adjustable stem, but then we have the issue of cable length and all..I really need some help here, it you're willing.Also, I am very intrigued by the notion of unsupported touring, and would very much like to begin doing some this fall,(it's too hot here in AZ to begin now), with the possibility of a long tour to Colorado next summer--to celebrate my 55th birthday with my daughter.Would it be feasible to adapt the Yukon, since I can't really afford a third bike?All help from you and any others would be greatly appreciated.Sincerly,Bike Obssessed in AZ
Dear Obsessed in AZ:Congrats on being bitten by the bike bug.It's always chancy whether a cheap heavy bike will lead someone to get a better bike or put them off of cycling altogether. I'm glad it worked out the way it did.You haven't said what your hybrid is, but of the three bikes in your fleet the Yukon or the hybrid would be better for touring than the Fuji Roubaix.For load carrying you want a bike with long chainstays to keep the bags behind your heels and the load forward of the rear axle. A relaxed head angle helps keep the bike stable for a more relaxing ride.Many people tour on mountain bikes. Often they will choose higher-pressure smooth tires.Performance road bikes like the Roubaix can be uncomfortable if you're accustomed to something that absorbs more road shock. I notice the difference when I go from my usual commuters to my road bike, and it's not excessively tight or steep.$50 for a fit isn't outrageous, but it's probably not the cheapest. You can pay much more at some of these oo-la-la specialist places. An experienced fitter with simple tools and a good eye can help a lot. Unfortunately, you don't know if your "expert" is a poser until you try the results.Stem risers add a lot of height in a hurry --maybe too much. Steep angled stems change the feel of the bike. Try fiddling with an adjustable stem. You make a good point about cable length. Some things just can't be helped. If you have to change cables, make them plenty long until you settle on a position.Set seat position properly relative to the cranks and adjust everything else to suit. Slightly nose up helps keep you on the wide part where you want to be.Frame size depends as much (or more) on your torso length as your standover height. You need a top tube that puts you in range of a good stem length--ideally 90-110 mm. A larger frame helps you keep the bars high relative to the seat height, too. This is good for touring.Let me know if you want to go into more depth on any of this. With luck your LBS will turn out to be reliable. Fitting is always easier in person. There can be a lot of little tweaks getting it dialed in.
Sorry, thought I made that clear. I have "hybridized" my Yukon: Kenda commuter tires, Slime tubes (there is so much crap on the road here in Phoenix and the 'burbs), a Topeak rear rack, Axiom panniers, Nashbar bar ends and trunk bag, and Shimano clipless SPD pedals.I have some good lights for night riding: Blackburn Quad headlight and Mars 3.0 red flasher.For touring, based on my research, I'm pretty sure I would need to change the gearing and replace the fork. These would be big jobs for me, but I wouldn't mind trying if some experts were to tell me it was worth it. (I've spent days on kenkifer.com, reading his advice.)By the way, thoroughly enjoy the blog, except for all the winter sport stuff, though I understand why you do it. I used to live in Colorado and only skied a bit. Winter here is definitely riding weather.Thanx
Oh, got ya.Fork changes are much simpler with a threadless headset as long as you can swap the crown race from the old fork to the new one. Leave the steerer long so you can fiddle with front end height.If you do your own work a lot more things are economical. It's all pretty straightforward.The gearing on the Yukon should have covered a pretty wide range. What would you change?
Just to clarify; you're suggesting an adjustable stem over a stem raiser, correct? (Like the Delta raiser?)As for the fork; how about a Surly 1x1 rigid w/disc and V configuration? I love my disk brakes, which is the main reason for adapting the Yukon. If I do make it to Colorado next summer, I could run into some heavy rains and I trust disks more than rim brakes.How simple would it be to slip out the suspension fork and slide in the Surly?The stock gearing on the Yukon is this: 42-32-22 chainrings, 12-13-14-16-18-21-24-30 cogs.Using gear calculators I found online, I realized I have many repeat gears. Plus there seem to be what I call "holes" in the gearing, places where I feel like I need another cog, especially in the middle gears, which is where I spend most of my time.I'm thinking I need to replace the cassette with something more road worthy, like: 11-13-15-17-20-23-26-30. Ken Kifer recommends no more than a 12% jump between cogs for 8 speeds, and 10% for 9's. (Would changing to a nine be possible?)I might also want to change the middle and large chainrings.These are some of the things I've been considering.I don't believe I would need to make any more radical changes to the Yukon after doing these.Your thoughts?
I put a 1x1 fork on my Gary Fisher when I changed it to a threadless headset. I would have suggested it if you hadn't already selected it. Cool.With a new fork, leave the steerer uncut and add headset spacers to put the stem as high as you can. Then try the stem at different heights in the stack to dial in the final position.In case we're mixing bikes here and the stem height issue is on the Roubaix I favor the adjustable stem for its incremental variability rather than the stem raiser that moves you up a bunch even at its lowest setting. There are a lot of nuances in road bike fit that only reveal themselves over time. The perfect fit today might not be the perfect fit next month. Acclimating to the road position might find you wanting to get lower than you anticipated or some other issue might encourage you to sit up more. That's why I like to be there for fit clients and be available in person thereafter.A rider's relationship to a bike is a long-term one. In the course of it things can evolve.For gearing, does the Yukon have separately replaceable chainrings? If so, can you get the sizes you want in the bolt pattern you have?It's reasonable to change the steps in the cassette. Unfortunately, you can't go to 9-speed without changing your shifters as well. That can get pricey unless you go to friction shifters, in which case you can run whatever you like. If you have integrated brake-shift levers of any kind, converting away from them will be initially more expensive than if you have separate shifter units.This explains my fondness for fixed-gears and friction shifting. Easy care and very adaptable.However many speeds you have, get cassettes that you can knock apart into individual cogs so you can mix-n-match to create cassettes that suit your particular needs. Shimano advertised that as an advantage in 1980 when they first graced us with the "cassette freehub." It's harder to do now that they don't support the concept with the cog selection, but you can salvage and scavenge.
I really appreciate all of this. I really had no right to expect so much individualized help but, it is very nice of you. Maybe this is why I've been enjoying your blog so much.The YukonCrankset: TruVativ ISO Flow 3.0, 22/32/42Cassette: SRAM PG 830 11/32, 8-speedBB: TruVativ PowersplineShifters: Shimano AlivioFork: RockShox Dart 1, 100mmOK, with all of this info, and if you're willing, what can you suggest to make this baby more of a road worthy ride, and to help me get over my fear of doing major work on a bike for the first time in my life.Again, thank you in advance for all your help and suggestions.
My replies will slow down now due to things getting hectic at work, and the increasing complexity of the detail you need to proceed. Don't be intimidated by it. Bikes are way easier than cars. Indexed shifting makes everything harder. So do issues with available chainring sizes, front derailleur compatibility w/ big ring, intervals between gears, and more.After all the compatibility bullshit, the actual work is the easy part.Late for work! Gotta go!
I really appreciate all the help you've given me already. I figured you'd be too busy this month to keep writing instructions for me. :-)Just wanted to let you know--I GOT THAT 1X1 FORK--for $40 on eBay ($51 w/shipping). The best price I could find on the internet was $67 plus shipping. I got a hell of a deal, didn't I?In a week, I may ask you for help again.Have a great weekend!
Installed the 1x1 fork yesterday and rode it to work this morning...SWEET.
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