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  1. #1
    He drop me Grasschopper's Avatar
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    I have been doing some thinking and IMO no one sells what I am looking for. I have looked at hybrids, flat bar roadies and MTBs and none of them is really the right choice, I think I will be headed down the path of a custom frame in the next couple of years but honestly that sort of removes part of what I think this bike should be which is affordable. So here is what I want...what would you do if you could do anything.

    Bike would be a flat bar road bike, I don't go off road other than some smooth dirt paths and gravel alleys at times. 700c by 28-36 with either slicks or a touring tread would be good. Steel would be my material of choice and a CF fork. Here is where it will get a little odd, I would want disc brakes because I will be towing a trailerbike and I like the added braking for safety. For this towing use I would also require a compact frame so that the seatpost clamp has room. Wheel base in the 1000mm-1100mm range (this is for a 55cm-56cm top tube). Clearance for fenders and braze-ons for racks.

    Gearing that fits. My Marin has a triple but I never use the big ring, I am thinking that a compact double with a 48-34 and a rear cassette in the ball park of 13 (or 14) -> 29 (27 or 28 may do but >30 is too many). This could be a 9 speed or 10 speed if I was building this today I would go with Campy Chorus 10sp flat bar stuff and a 13-29 cassette. This gearing would give me plenty of low gears for towing the trailer bike and high enough gears for crusing but elinimate that extra ring and allow for a shorter chain and better chain line.

    Wheels would be something like a 36 hole Mavic Open Pro and the brakes would be Avid mechanical discs.

    So what is out there now? Well the 2005 Specialized Sirrus Comp Disc is close but still needs some modification. Dump the Pave seatpost to get something more robust for towing. and honestly an AL and CF frame seems silly on this bike and I would guess it would drive the price up ($1500 reatil) over steel but maybe I am wrong. Also I am not a fan of ALEX rims due to some things I have read about failures so a new wheel set would be nice. So that drives the price up to around $2k but the dream bike above has to be about $3k doesn't it? IMO a family bike should be $2000-$3000.

    I guess I am dreaming here.
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  2. #2
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    I recently bought a 2005 Jamis Nova (cyclocross bike) to use as my new commuter. It has everything you want except the flat handlebar (you could swap that and the shifters/brake levers) and disc brakes (it has cantilever brakes).
    My bikes --> 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2013 Cannondale CAAD 10 2 (5) "Racing Edition"

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  3. #3
    He drop me Grasschopper's Avatar
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    Um I think you just made my point. Other than the drop bar, the brakes, the gearing and the geometry that bike is perfect.

    I have a Marin Mill Valley that has the right geometry and is a flat bar but the gearing is the same as the one you posted which isn't what I want. It also has cantis which are boarderline on the hills we have here with my son on the trailerbike. If I were able to put discs on my Marin and I changed the drivetrain it would be what I am looking for but the disc mounts aren't there and the Chorus groupo with flatbar shifters is over a grand. Someone needs to make a cassette similar to the Campy 13-29, it would be great for this use IMO.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    Sounds like a Cannondale Bad Boy Ultra would fit the bill: Cannondale Bad Boy Ultra

    Towing is problematic with disc brakes if the hitch attaches to the frame. Towing is a problem with a seat post hitch if you have a rear rack. If you're using a trailercycle, the hitch needs to be all the way to the frame on the seat post.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  5. #5
    seeking simple
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    Well, in the mean time, have you thought about swapping out the fork on your Mill Valley for one with disc mounts? Generally it's not a good idea to have a more powerful brake in front only, but surely you and your son won't both flip over the handlebars. You can always swap out cogs and chainrings.

    Does the Marin fit the bill with tire clearance/rack and fender fittings?

    Good luck.
    Jessica

  6. #6
    He drop me Grasschopper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DieselDan
    Sounds like a Cannondale Bad Boy Ultra would fit the bill: Cannondale Bad Boy Ultra

    Towing is problematic with disc brakes if the hitch attaches to the frame. Towing is a problem with a seat post hitch if you have a rear rack. If you're using a trailercycle, the hitch needs to be all the way to the frame on the seat post.
    You know that is pretty darn close alright, the cassette isn't perfect but at some point I guess you just have to take what you can get. Also I don't think I would need the granny, with that 34 on there the 32 took ring would be plenty low. I hadn't seen that in their 2005 line up or I couldn't find out how to get to it (it was mentioned in the Road Warrior section but no link). We have a Gary Fisher Freeloader which attaches to the seatpost and on my Marin it has plenty of clearance even with a rear rack installed. I will have to put it together and take a picture of it to post. Thanks for the link.
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  7. #7
    He drop me Grasschopper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by schwinnbikelove
    Well, in the mean time, have you thought about swapping out the fork on your Mill Valley for one with disc mounts? Generally it's not a good idea to have a more powerful brake in front only, but surely you and your son won't both flip over the handlebars. You can always swap out cogs and chainrings.

    Does the Marin fit the bill with tire clearance/rack and fender fittings?

    Good luck.
    Jessica
    Yes I have thought about doing just what you say actually, going with a carbon cross fork on the front and a disc brake and modifying the gearing. The marin will hold big tires and already has a rear rack. I guess the best thing to do here is modify the Marin.
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  8. #8
    seeking simple
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    Whatever your decision, best of luck. It can be frustrating, huh?

  9. #9
    Senior Member vincenzosi's Avatar
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    I'd say I would just want a beautiful blue custom built Salsa La Raza and that would be more than enough for me to do anything on; and anything I couldn't do on it wasn't worth doing anyway.

    Can you tell I love your bike and turn green everytime I see a post from you and click the link in your sig?
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  10. #10
    He drop me Grasschopper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vincenzosi
    I'd say I would just want a beautiful blue custom built Salsa La Raza and that would be more than enough for me to do anything on; and anything I couldn't do on it wasn't worth doing anyway.

    Can you tell I love your bike and turn green everytime I see a post from you and click the link in your sig?
    Well thank you very much. The more I ride it the less I think I deserve it but the more I know I will own it for a long long time. I really should take some new photos though as it does have a different stem now and also has had HRM and cyclocomputer mounted as well as the pedals being changed to PD-R600s. It is REALLY a VERY sweet bike. But it can't pull the trailer so...
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  11. #11
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    Have you considered buying a nice, used bike and spending your $$ on the few features you really need? I bought a nice 1990 12-speed Bianchi at a yard sale today for $5. If you start with this little out of pocket, you get lots of money left over for the few parts you need to add (like the new wheels with disc brakes). You can also shop the extra parts you want used at e-Bay.

    My Bianchi is a nice double-butted chro-mo frame with down-tube AND seat-tube mounts for water bottles. I also got a rack (already mounted) and a pair of fenders that I can add on if I want. I also got two helments, two spare tubes, and two frame-mount air pumps. (ALL for the $5). You may say that I got a steal, but this type of deal is available every weekend if you're willing to go shop. One man's trash...

    Just an idea.. Good luck and happy shopping!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grasschopper
    ...So here is what I want...

    Bike would be a flat bar road bike, I don't go off road other than some smooth dirt paths and gravel alleys at times. 700c by 28-36 with either slicks or a touring tread would be good. Steel would be my material of choice and a CF fork. Here is where it will get a little odd, I would want disc brakes because I will be towing a trailerbike and I like the added braking for safety. For this towing use I would also require a compact frame so that the seatpost clamp has room. Wheel base in the 1000mm-1100mm range (this is for a 55cm-56cm top tube). Clearance for fenders and braze-ons for racks.

    Gearing that fits. ....

    I prefer drop bars (albeit placed as high as the saddle) for almost all riding. The only time I would prefer something else is when my daughter was learning to ride and was riding at about 4-5 km/h. Then priest bars (i.e. flat, but with handles pointing towards the rider) would have been better. Apart from that, I agree on your philosophy, but disagree on some actual components. Here is my ideal configuration:

    - Steel (or aluminium). I prefer the look of the more slender tubes one gets with steel, but that's a personal preference. Right now, I feel (rightly or wrongly?) that there are two many unknowns with carbon fiber, problems if you want to put a front rack, etc., so I prefer to avoid it.

    - Bike geometry.
    To attach a Trail-a-bike, you need about 8-10 cm of seatpost exposed. Nowadays, with the trend of fitting people on smallish bikes, this would not be considered by many sales people as a compact frame. Generally speaking, you will have a more stable bike when you sit on the saddle if the frame is larger and there is less seatpost showing.
    Besides, if you tow a Trail-a-bike with a 64-cm bike, there will be room on top of a rear rack to pack a tent. If you tow it with a 49-cm bike, you might even have problems to clear a fender! (ok, these are extreme examples).
    Another factor: To tow a trailercycle (Trail-a-Bike or Piccolo), you will get a more stable ride if your bike has beefier seatstays.
    To attach a trailer, beefier seatstays help -- a bit. But try to get a bike with an even cross section, otherwise the clamp with slide. Although if you use the trailer a lot, plan on getting one that hitches around or through the axle: more stable and less interferences with your feet.

    - Brakes.
    As others have said, disc brakes don't work well with racks and panniers. I think Old Man MOuntain is the only one that manufactures a disk-brake-compatible rack... and that doesn't mean your favourite pannier will fit readily. Disc brakes are great in mud (no sand to abrade your rims) and have a similar performance in rain, but offer no advantage in dry weather. As for snow, many (most?) people find that discs work well in snow or ice, but a significant minority have serious problems with them.
    And even in rain, a good set of Kool Stop Salmon pads (or even their regular ones) will put you miles ahead
    of what you get with regular pads.
    The only on-road or even on-trail situation where rim brakes aren't sufficient is if you do long heavily-loaded descents. And then, I would recommend either an Arai drum brake or a disc brake plus the two rim brakes.

    - Gears
    You definitely need low gears to pull a loaded trailer or a trailercycle. BUt if you want to use your bike by itself, then you will want somewhat higher gears. And even with a trailercycle, you can ride very fast with it on the flats.
    My touring bike has 44-34-22 on an XT crankset, with a custom 9-speed cassette: 12-14-15-16-17-19-21-25-32. That way, I get plenty of relatively close gears to ride on flat terrain, but also good low climbing gears.

    - Tires
    Your selection of 28-32 mm wide slick tires is good, unless you have very bumpy roads. However, when I used my single bike for loaded touring with a child, I replaced the rear tire by a 700x37. IOW, for more flexibility, make sure the fork and stays allow for wider tires.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  13. #13
    A New Creation! Ritz's Avatar
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    Here's what mine looks like: http://www.tourdepants.com I want to move up to a Gold Rush one day, but this one is very cool for now!
    "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the de@d , you will be saved." Romans 10:9 NIV

    VIVA LA PANTS!

  14. #14
    He drop me Grasschopper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Gagnon
    I prefer drop bars (albeit placed as high as the saddle) for almost all riding. The only time I would prefer something else is when my daughter was learning to ride and was riding at about 4-5 km/h. Then priest bars (i.e. flat, but with handles pointing towards the rider) would have been better.
    Honestly I have never ridden anything other than drop bars and flat bars. Of those two for the added stability of the wider bars I would choose the flat bars but I do also have a set of bar ends which gives me an added hand position.


    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Gagnon
    - Steel (or aluminium). I prefer the look of the more slender tubes one gets with steel, but that's a personal preference. Right now, I feel (rightly or wrongly?) that there are two many unknowns with carbon fiber, problems if you want to put a front rack, etc., so I prefer to avoid it.
    Like I said I want steel but IMO the CF (I assume we are talking about the fork) isn't an issue. There are plenty of CF forks with rack mounts and to be honest I am not going to do a fronk rack just a front fender. Front disc mount is more important to me here as I have seen only 2 CF forks for 700c with disc mounts. I do believe Surley makes a steel fork with a disc mount and that will probably be fine.


    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Gagnon
    - Bike geometry.
    To attach a Trail-a-bike, you need about 8-10 cm of seatpost exposed. Nowadays, with the trend of fitting people on smallish bikes, this would not be considered by many sales people as a compact frame. Generally speaking, you will have a more stable bike when you sit on the saddle if the frame is larger and there is less seatpost showing.
    Besides, if you tow a Trail-a-bike with a 64-cm bike, there will be room on top of a rear rack to pack a tent. If you tow it with a 49-cm bike, you might even have problems to clear a fender! (ok, these are extreme examples).
    Another factor: To tow a trailercycle (Trail-a-Bike or Piccolo), you will get a more stable ride if your bike has beefier seatstays.
    To attach a trailer, beefier seatstays help -- a bit. But try to get a bike with an even cross section, otherwise the clamp with slide. Although if you use the trailer a lot, plan on getting one that hitches around or through the axle: more stable and less interferences with your feet.
    I currently have the 2 bikes in my signature. The Salsa La Raza is my fast roadie and is a 56cm frame which fits me pretty well. There isn't enough room on the seat post to mount the hitch for our trailerbike which lead me to the purchase of the Marin Mill Valley. The Marin has a sloping geometry and is pretty much perfect with the exception that it doesn't have disc mounts (and I assume the rear drops would have to be 135mm to get a rear disc anyway and it is 130mm).


    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Gagnon
    - Brakes.
    As others have said, disc brakes don't work well with racks and panniers. I think Old Man MOuntain is the only one that manufactures a disk-brake-compatible rack... and that doesn't mean your favourite pannier will fit readily. Disc brakes are great in mud (no sand to abrade your rims) and have a similar performance in rain, but offer no advantage in dry weather. As for snow, many (most?) people find that discs work well in snow or ice, but a significant minority have serious problems with them.
    And even in rain, a good set of Kool Stop Salmon pads (or even their regular ones) will put you miles ahead
    of what you get with regular pads.
    The only on-road or even on-trail situation where rim brakes aren't sufficient is if you do long heavily-loaded descents. And then, I would recommend either an Arai drum brake or a disc brake plus the two rim brakes.
    I have to TOTALLY disagree with you here. My wife's bike is a Specialized Sirrus Sport Disc (thus has discs) and I can ride her bike as well albiet a bit cramped for length of TT. When we first got the trailerbike we didn't have my Marin so her bike was used for the trailerbike and I rode it several times. There is a SIGNIFICANT difference between the braking power of her discs and my cantis. I agree that on a normal bike the difference doesn't really show but when we are talking about an added 75 lbs (child and trailerbike currently and will go up as the child grows) being towed it is evident that the discs have MUCH more braking power.

    The more I look at it the more I think my Marin is a good frame to go from with the only real issue for me being I wish it could take disc brakes. My current thinking is to use it and build on it like this:

    #1 it needs new wheels - Xero XR-3s are not everyday wheels and IMO they are pointless. Too heavy to be used for racing and not durable enough for everyday commuting/family use. But hey the low spoke count looks cool... So I am planning on getting a set of wheels with something like a deore front disc hub and a 105 rear hub (if I win the lottery or something maybe I get Chris King hubs or similar but for now we are on a budget). Mount to them a rim like the Mavic MA3 or A719 in a 36 spoke configuration for everyday strength.

    #2 I want at least a front disc - most of the braking comes from the front anyway so why not put a disc on the front and get what advantage I can. Plus going this route I can simply buy the wheels above and a fork from Winwood or Nashbar plus the brake and I am there.

    #3 Improve the gearing - still waffeling on the best way to do this. I would like to switch to a double as I NEVER use the big ring and would prefer a simpler drivetrain. So a compact double or simply remove a ring fromt my current setup and then a new cassette in the back. Sheldon Brown has a couple that seem to be good choices, the Century Special may be the right one for this bike.

    Other than that all I need is fenders as I already have a rear rack and I probably will have fenders before any of the other items.

    Thanks to everyone for their comments, it has been helpful.
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  15. #15
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    Grasschopper, thanks for your reply. A few points/clarifications:

    Priest bars. They are basically what you see on a 1950 or 1960 bicycle, and probably on British 3-speed bicycles until 1975. They are flat like MTB straight bars, but the handles are pointing towards the rider, which allows for a more natural wrist position. I had 2-3 bicycles like that before my first 10-speed bicycle (shows my age, I'm 46), and there are quite a few in use around where I live. Still, as I said, my personal preference is with road bars.

    Bike Geometry. I see your point. It's just that in many shops around here, when you talk about "compact geometry" or "compact frame", they fit you on a bike with 200-300 mm of seatpost showing, even on a road bike.

    Brakes. As far as disk mounts being automatically on 135-mm hubs, I am not so sure. I think that there currently are some on 130-mm hubs.
    However, in terms of your cantis not being "powerful enough", there might be a problem in how they are set up. It is possible to have cantis installed in such a way that they can be activated with the little finger, just like v-brakes are. Ideal set up is more easily done with a U-bridge and a straddle cable than with the fixed link now supplied with most brakes. One of the beauties of cantilever brakes is that you can make them as soft – or as hard – as you like. But their pitfall is that they are oftentimes not set up optimally.

    Like rim brakes, disc brakes may overheat; then they warp. I think you need more heat (i.e. a longer or steeper hill) before dammage occurs, and a warp disc is not catastrophic like a front-tire blow out!

    I also have to admit my bias. I have used a few bicycles with disc brakes (including in rain), but my own bikes have v-brakes and cantilevers with Kool Stop pads. I have towed two kids (one in the trailercycle and the second one in the child trailer, plus food or other gear) without problems and done self-contained loaded touring with one child. Once or twice did I wish for a third brake, not because I didn't have enough power, but because rims came hot. A good case is descending Côte-des-Neiges and Atwater streets: 3 km, 5 to 8%, with a horrible surface that requires me to limit my speed to 15-20 km/h.
    On the tandem, I got the Arai drum brake as a third brake, essentially because I want to do loaded touring with both kids and I don't like to play daredevil when riding downhill.

    As for disc brake on the front. I think that's the ideal in principle. In practice, a disc brake may be installed on a MTB-style fork without major redesign, but on a road bike, it requires a more rigid fork. If I correctly remember what Bill McCrady (of Santana) said, designing a front fork for a disc brake adds 300-400 grammes to the bicycle. And the bulkier fork would not look as sexy with many bike designers and purchasers.

    Other issues
    If you want or plan to use a lot the trailercycle, I would suggest that you invest in a Burley Piccolo rather than a "traditional" Trail-a-Bike. The Piccolo attaches to the adult bike via a special rack (one is supplied with the trailercycle) and is much more stable than the Trail-a-Bike. I had a Trail-a-Bike and worn out the universal joint in about 1 year and 1800 km [1]; I now have a Piccolo, had done 5000 km with it and the joint is as stable as new.

    [1]. The bolt is still well attached and safe (cf. current recall). The problem was that with mileage, the holes expanded a bit so the trail-a-bike may now wobble from side to side by about 5-10 degrees.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  16. #16
    He drop me Grasschopper's Avatar
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    Michel - Thanks for the comments, clearly you have some expierence in this area. I will look into the canti setup to see how I can optimize it a bit better. See the photo for how my bike sits currently, we already own a Gary Fisher Freeloader so the Burley isn't in the cards at the moment maybe when we wear this one out.

    There are currently 2 forks that I have seen for disc application to a road frame. The cheaper option is this Nashbar unit and for a bit more money this Winwood unit. I have also heard that Surly will do a custom crosscheck fork with disc tabs but I am not sure on that. So the parts are there in a limited fasson, plus this bike looks a bit like a pig anyway so looks aren't all that important.
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  17. #17
    He drop me Grasschopper's Avatar
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    Well I could pick a hole but you are right that bike would be pretty good. But at this point I guess I have decided it will be cheaper or at least easier to get past the wife if I upgrade my current bike rather than buy another bike.
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  18. #18
    'Bent Brian
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    In my humble opinion a good 'bent is the way to go. To see what I ride go to www.ransbikes.com and check out the Tailwind. For touring check out the Stratus.

    'bent Brian

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