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Thread: Pick A Project

  1. #1
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Pick A Project

    Introduction

    I see now that it's much easier to decide what bike someone else should get than to make such a decision yourself. Hence I am soliciting opinions. If you feel up to digesting my long-winded post, consider my reasoning and tell me if you see any place that my thinking is misguided, where I am worrying about things I don't need to and where I am ignoring things I should be worrying about. Otherwise, just read the executive summary and toss out a response. If you don't even feel like that, just give me the usual Surly Cross Check response (which is kind of like saying "supply and demand" in response to an economics question you didn't really listen to or think about...you're still likely to be at least partly correct).

    Executive Summary

    My 40th birthday is coming up and as a present, I've got a $500 budget for a bike project. I was thinking I'd get a new frame for one of my bikes. Trouble is, I'm having trouble deciding which frame and for which bike. Of course, there are alternatives. If you don't feel like reading the rest of this epic post, look at the pictures below and (ideally) glance at the purposes of the bike and tell me what you would do with $500.

    My Current Fleet

    2008 Kona Jake, upgraded with mostly Ultegra components (details here)



    Uses: Fair weather commuter, long recreational rides, cyclocross racing

    Strengths: This bike does everything. I've had it professionally fit, and I'm very happy with the results. It's reasonably light (about 22 pounds) and has excellent components. It has braze-ons for a rack and fender eyelets, though I tend not to use those in the summer and fall.

    Weaknesses: It could use better brakes. The fork is steel, though that's not necessarily bad. It's not a road bike, but I'm using it as one.


    2008 Marin Muirwoods 29er, upgraded with mostly XT components (details here)



    Uses: Rain commuter

    Strengths: This bike is a tank. I absolutely love the 29x2.0 Marathon Supreme tires. If I replaced this bike, I'd be looking for another one that could use these tires. Avid BB7 disc brakes are great for the constant rain we get here in falwinterspring.

    Weaknesses: This bike is a tank. With rack and fenders is weighs around 35 pounds. The wheels are crap. It seems to cause a nagging injury to my left knee. I'm constantly wishing it had drop bars, but I crunched the numbers and short of putting a 10mm stem on it, it won't fit with drop bars. If I keep it in use, it will need a pro fit.


    1977 Gitane Gypsy Sport fixed gear conversion (details here)



    Uses: Training bike, all weather commuter, maybe singlespeed cyclocross racing

    Strengths: I built this up from a pile of rust, and I've got a bond with it that is completely disproportionate to it's actual value. The fact that it's essentially worthless makes it a great bike to take places I'd be nervous locking up the other bikes. It actually does ride really well, fits nicely (now that I put the giraffe-like stem on it) and is nearly silent. It currently weighs in around 21 pounds. It has beautiful lug-work. It has lots of tire and fender clearance. It has eyelets for rack and fenders (though no rack braze-ons). The "vintage" brakes work with V-brake pads.

    Weaknesses: This frame spent 30 years rusting in someone's barn before I got it. I'm told that it's generic high-tensile steel, but it doesn't feel bad. The paint wipes off like dry-erase marker from a white board, except that it doesn't leave the faint residue that dry-erase markers do. I find new spots daily where the primer is showing, and I've been just slapping touch-up paint that doesn't quite match on it. It's getting pretty ugly. I can't find new brakes with enough reach to the rims (needs about 80mm reach).


    I'm thinking of getting a new frame and using the parts from one of the bikes above to build it up. I'd probably re-build whichever one got bumped with parts from my part bin, and maybe even sell it.


    Possible Projects

    Voodoo Nakisi

    This would replace the Marin as my rain commuter. I might also use it at a few cyclocross races, as novelty bikes tend to garner crowd support around here.

    Pros: This would take the 29x2.0 Marthon Supremes and/or the 29x21.1 Maxxis Ignitors I've got hanging in the garage. It's more or less designed for a drop-bar type fit, so that should work. I could use an IGH or run it single speed if I ever decided I wanted to. I could use the canti studs to mount inline Travel Agents and use the BB7's I've got instead of sinking money into road BB7's.

    Cons: Near as I can tell, this bike doesn't actually exist. Hopefully that will change soon. I'm concerned about the practicality of track fork ends with disc brakes and fenders. The geometry looks a little odd. The frames all seem short and long. I don't like the decals. What would it look like with the cantilever/V-brake studs removed?


    Surly Karate Monkey

    This would replace the Marin as my rain commuter.

    Pros: It's called Karate Monkey. I love the "chum bucket red" color. I think the top tube is short enough to make it work with drop bars. This would take the 29x2.0 Marthon Supremes and/or the 29x21.1 Maxxis Ignitors I've got hanging in the garage. I could use an IGH or run it single speed if I ever decided I wanted to. I could use the canti studs to mount inline Travel Agents and use the BB7's I've got instead of sinking money into road BB7's.

    Cons: It's not really designed for drop bars. I'm concerned about the practicality of track fork ends with disc brakes and fenders. The small size, which I think I would need, looks from the numbers like it has a very steep top tube slope. What would it look like with the cantilever/V-brake studs removed? Wide bottom bracket makes it harder to fix the Q-factor problem that I suspect is behind the knee problem I have with the Marin.


    Kona Major One

    I'd use this for cyclocross racing. In the off-season, it would replace the Gitane as my fixed gear bike.

    Pros: Of all the frames I'm considering, this is the one that would probably excite me the most. It's very light. It would be great for cyclocross.

    Cons: It's not terribly pracitcal. It wouldn't easily accept rack or fenders. I'd have to stretch the budget.


    Surly Cross Check

    I'd build this up as a fixed gear bike, and it would replace the Gitane as my fixed gear/all weather commuter/training bike. It would also be a natural for single speed cyclocross.

    Pros: It's very versatile. I like the horizontal drop outs. I could run it geared if I wanted to. I could use V-brakes for commuting. I could use an IGH or run it single speed if I ever decided I wanted to. I could see this becoming my main commuter year round. It's well within budget, even with a nice new headset.

    Cons: I'm not certain that it's a better frame than the Gitane. It's heavy. I'm not sure the 120mm spaced wheels I have could be made to work with the wide rear drops, even with spacers. I really dislike the bosses on the downtube. They bother me more than seems reasonable. I'm not thrilled with either gray or black.


    Salsa Casseroll

    I'd build this up as a fixed gear bike, and it would replace the Gitane as my fixed gear/all weather commuter/training bike.

    Pros: It seems reasonably light on paper. It's a true road bike, which is something I don't really have right now (unless you count the Gitane). I like the horizontal drop outs. I could run it geared if I wanted to. I could use an IGH or run it single speed if I ever decided I wanted to.

    Cons: It's still plain-old chromoly. I hate the current color options. I really dislike the bosses on the downtube. They bother me more than seems reasonable.


    Salsa Fargo

    This would replace the Marin as my rain commuter.

    Pros: This would take the 29x2.0 Marthon Supremes and/or the 29x21.1 Maxxis Ignitors I've got hanging in the garage. It's more or less designed for a drop-bar type fit, so that should work. Disc brake mounts inside the rear triangle. I like the absurdity of all the water bottle mounts.

    Cons: I'd have to stretch the budget. I don't like how much the top tube slopes. The current color is ugly.


    Salsa La Cruz

    This would replace the Marin as my rain commuter.

    Pros: This is the kind of geometry I really want. It would essentially be like my Kona Jake but with disc. Could easily become my year-round commuter, and I could arguably sell my Jake and get a road bike.

    Cons: This would hit the top end of my budget without leaving room for a lot of the parts I'd need. No braze-on for rear rack. Tire clearance isn't enough to keep my beloved 29x2.0 Marathon Supremes.


    Soma Double Cross DC

    This would replace the Marin as my rain commuter.

    Pros: This is the kind of geometry I really want. It would essentially be like my Kona Jake but with disc. Could easily become my year-round commuter, and I could arguably sell my Jake and get a road bike. I had a dream that I was riding a Double Cross and it was amazingly comfortable.

    Cons: Tire clearance isn't enough to keep my beloved 29x2.0 Marathon Supremes. It seems like the La Cruz has better steel.


    New paint and frame straigntening for the Gitane

    Pros: The Gitane would stop being so damned ugly.

    Cons: To paraphase Charlie Chan from "Murder By Death", "Very interesting idea, but you overlook one small detail....is stupid! Is stupidest idea I ever heard!" I've really probably sunk way too much money into this frame already.


    Various upgrades

    I could keep the frames I have and use the money to tweak them here and there. Lighter wheels for the Marin, maybe a new crankset. New brakes and handlebars for my Jake. Maybe do the drop bar conversion for the Marin in spite of the problems noted above. New saddle and maybe a new crank for the Gitane.

    Pros: My wife can't say, "But you just got a new bike." All the bikes get better, not just one.

    Cons: Doesn't really fix existing problems. I'd still probably want to do one of the above. I could do this over time without the one-time big budget.


    So what do you think? What would you do?

  2. #2
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Did I finally manage to write a post so long that nobody even wants to offer an opinion?

  3. #3
    Senior Member MNBikeguy's Avatar
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    Sorry.. Your post is rather adversus solem ne loquitor.
    In other words, you've asked for opinions but provided no possible outlets.
    Who could possibly add anything to it?
    BTW... Do you write project proposals for a living? Your executive summary kind of gives it away...
    "I thought of that while riding my bike."
    - Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity

  4. #4
    member. heh. lambo_vt's Avatar
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    You've got a lot of options but few real complaints about what you've already got. Do you want to solve a cycling-related problem or just change something for the heck of it?

    All that said, sounds like your best bet is somehow replacing/changing your 29er which bothers you so much.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    +1 on doing something with the 29er. >It seems to cause a nagging injury to my left knee. = bad.

  6. #6
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNBikeguy View Post
    Sorry.. Your post is rather adversus solem ne loquitor.
    In other words, you've asked for opinions but provided no possible outlets.
    Who could possibly add anything to it?
    It's multiple choice!

    But I suppose I did overanalyze it to the point that no one else needed to.

  7. #7
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lambo_vt View Post
    You've got a lot of options but few real complaints about what you've already got. Do you want to solve a cycling-related problem or just change something for the heck of it?
    Ah, too much information obscured the problems I'd like to solve.

    1. Yes, it is primarily about getting a shiny new toy.

    but...

    2. I'd like a bike that can take the wide tires from the 29er but can also be set up with drop bars and ridden in a road-like position. And if it doesn't hurt my knee that'd be a nice bonus.

    3. As much as I love it, I think the frame on the fixie is kind of crap.

    4. I wanted to hear people tell me why they love their favorite bike if it's among my options.

  8. #8
    Dirty old man in training
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    The first thing I would do is get matching water bottle cages and replace the bar tape on the Jake

    Our bike fleets are very similar. I have a 2007 Novara Randonee drop bar touring bike that I use as my primary commuter, a 2007 Novara Buzz (flat bar, fully rigid, 26" wheels, disc brakes, all black) I use as a tow vehicle and sometimes as a rain bike, a 1991 Raleigh Olympian road bike converted to single speed, and a 1988 Nishiki Ariel fully rigid MTB.

    I am not sure what to tell you but here are some random thoughts:

    Figure out what about the Marin is bothering your knee before doing anything (I read your other thread about that)

    Put better cantis on the Jake

    Painting the Gitane would be a good excuse to get a air compressor and spray ***, assuming you have someplace you can paint the frame

    If you are just bored you could try to build up another bike on the cheap. There is a cool "townie" thread in the fixed/SS forum that got me thinking about turning my old Nishiki MTB into a townie: replace the stem and bars with chrome ones and put some Wald paper boy baskets on the back.

    Get a decent work stand and/or truing stand if you don't already have one

  9. #9
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Gitane to townie ("Gitownie"?): North Road bars, a sprung Brooks, and a wire basket for a stylish grocery getter and around the neighborhood bike.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  10. #10
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    Gitane to townie ("Gitownie"?)
    You know, I don't like townies at all, but just the idea of the name "Gitownie" is almost enough to make me do it.

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