The Oregon Manifest is a competition to build the best utility bike. You can check it out here:
This event has been criticized as being an event for rando bikes with a rear rack, and if that is the case for the new competition, I probably won't enter. What I am hoping to do is enter a mixte city bike with a Rohloff hub, a front basket, and a rear rack. The bike will have battery operated LED lights integrated to the stem, racks, and fenders. Once they publish the judging criteria for 2011 I can know for sure if such a bike stands a chance of winning. Dale Saso will build the frame and I will make the racks and do all the machine work and assembly.
Right off the start, there are three issues that I can't answer and would like to know if more knowledgeable people could provide some helpful input:
1. I have been told that the latest triple chainring cranksets and deraileur systems are so good that a Rohloff hub would be unnecessary. Not having much experience with the latest hardware, I set my wife out on a new comfort bike and found she immediately had trouble with it. Have you found that beginners still have trouble with the latest triple chainring hardware? This is the primary reason for choosing a Rohloff hub.
2. We need to use easy rolling wide diameter tires. The best tires I have seen are the 650B sized 41 mm Grand Bois Hetre tires. Are there any similar tires made for the 26" wheel size? I hate to go with 650B, but I will if I can't find an equivalent 26" tire.
3. We have the same wheel size issues with the fenders. I can find great looking hammered aluminum fenders in 650B, but not 26".
Perhaps these questions should be put somewhere other than the frame builder's forum, but all of these issues really come down to designing the frame around the best hardware available so a frame builder's input is the most valued.
Thanks in advance for your input.