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A new Coho on the road (long post)

Old 05-31-09, 09:55 PM
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A new Coho on the road (long post)

150 miles with Mr. Brown


I set out this morning to do a solo dry run of an upcoming 200k Iím leading with the Baltimore Bicycling Club- a ride to Chesapeake Beach. Itís been raining incessantly this month so I was hoping to take advantage of the forecasted weather- cloudy and 60 deg (with a chance of rain). Riding my new bike, a Coho, built for me by Charles Lathe, I left the house late at 7:30AM. Itís about 8 miles from my house to the official ride start at Carroll Park. From there the route heads south to the BWI Airport rail trail, then connects to the B&A trail to Annapolis


Prior to todayís 200k attempt, I had only ridden the bike twice- a little shakedown ride and a 30 miler. Two weeks ago I had loaded my Nova station wagon with parts and headed down to Franklinville, NC. The idea was to meet Charles Lathe, the builder, and his wife and business partner, Nina, then build up the bike, ride it in its native land and drink a beer on the front porch.


Me, left. Charles, the builder, right. and the the new steed.

The plan worked- Charles and Nina were friendly and welcoming, the bike build-up worked just fine and the weather was absolutely stunning. The 1st few cranks of the pedals had put a smile on my face. This was my first experience buying a custom frameset and it certainly felt right. So right, in fact, that I felt confident about making my 3rd ride a long one.



The B&A trail is a rare gem for a Baltimore rider- itís well paved, scenic, protected from vehicles, and 13 miles long. Itís a monday morning and there are few pedestrians. Iím really enjoying hammering up the gentle inclines and powering down the descents. Iím settling into todayís ride and begin thinking of the small stuff: seat could get angled back just a touch, love these Nitto Standard bars, but they could get angled back a bit too, the FD is gonna need some serious tweaking to get it shifting smoother, these shifters really suck, but what do I replace them with?


Coho on B&A trail to Annapolis. Gray cotton bar tape from Velo Orange.

At the end of the trail there are a couple miles of road, a climb up the Severn River bridge and then a descent into Marylandís capital city, Annapolis. I sit outside ďNaval BagelsĒ snarfing an egg and cheese on onion bagel and check out the two jock dudes (probably academy cadets) on their road bikes. Iím trying to banish those snobbish feelings so common when you begin mentally comparing a bike you love with others. But, I canít help it. Their bikes look so fragile, and so... um, ugly. Enough of that Bob, move it- youíve got over a hundred more miles to ride.



The frame on the Coho is stiffer than I had expected. I was looking for a "quick century bikeĒ- a bike that would feel much faster than my other long distance bike: a Kogswell P/R. The Coho definitely delivers in that regard. I believe Charles chose to go with thicker down and top tubes making for a fairly rigid frame. In fact, climbing out of the saddle still feels a bit awkward because Iím so used to flexy steel frames wagging back and forth underneath me. The steering is also quicker than Iím used to, but again, thatís the point- Iím looking for a responsive, racy bike. Mavic Open Pro wheels were built for me by Anthony at Longleaf Cycles. Anthony is a fantastic wheelsmith. Iíve put more than 5,000 miles on Synergys he built for my Kogswell. They are still perfectly true and Iíve never turned a single nipple on them.





Grand Bois tires, a 73 degree seat/head angle, medium length chain stays and an ample and stylish bend to the fork smoothes out the Cohoís ride nicely.



Old Solomons Island road over the South River bridge, R on Muddy Creek, R on Old Sudley, then Sudley, then Nutwell Sudley. The houses get larger and less often. More horses, more grass, I go several miles the wrong way, curse Google Mapsí error, double back and then realize itís my fault. Iíve misread my own cue sheet. Oops. L on Friendship rd, becomes Lake Shore. A glimpse down a private drive reveals open water. Walnut ave, Chesapeake ave and Bayside rd. Then the trees drop away, the sky opens up and the Chesapeake Bay displays itself. Tilghman Island is easily visible through the overcast. Lunch, is at Subway. A veggie sub, a cola and a confused employee when I ask for apple slices clearly shown on their menu. ďDo we have them?Ē, he asks me. After lunch, I take an easy roll through town toward the beach at Bayfront Park. I blow past the correct turn on the cue sheet, stop, then wonder whether itís worth going back. Iíve gotta get pics of the new bike on the beach. U turn. The tide is low and there are several fossil hunters far out from shore. I snap some shots of the bike and the extras- Velo Orange Sugino ďAlpinaĒ crankset, Dura Ace RD (a splurge) and 8-speed cassette.




"Mr. Brown" on the Beach in southern Maryland

Charlesí clean welding, and the stylish lugs of the Coho are lost in the brightness of the beach. Nice rust-red powder coat though. And very nice lines. Itís no surprise Charles is also a boat builder. Time to get back to Baltimore. Only 100k to go. North.



The air today is cool and wet. Iíve brought no extra clothes for the ride so Iím hoping it doesnít get any cooler or wetter. As I get back up to a good pace, climbing away from the Chesapeake shores, I realize how filthy the bike is. ďMr. BrownĒ is officially broken in. Iím pushing harder now. The bike and I are really starting to open up. At the beginning of long rides I often feel very tall on my bikes. As the ride nears its end, I begin thinking that the seat post is somehow getting shorter as the ground seems be getting closer and closer. Now at the 100 mile mark, Mr Brown is still feeling tall and Iím still feeling energetic. The terrain is getting more varied and Iím able to hit curves at higher speeds. This frame tracks very well. Just a little drop to my inside elbow and the Coho falls into the turn without correction. My Kogswell also does this very nicely, but requires a bit more energy to get into the turn. I have not detected the slightest bit of front end shimmy on this bike. I wouldnít consider myself an experienced no-hands rider, but on the very first ride, I was cruising down gentle declines with my hands in my lap. I have since added a handlebar bag and have noticed that this extra weight makes no hands riding a bit more difficult. Nonetheless, the Coho is a very stable downhill ride.



As I roll back into Baltimore and over its rugged, debris-scattered roads I am feeling thankful for the ride. And, glad I picked this bike. I wanted a bike that had most of the comfort qualities of the Kogswell, but that felt fast. There were many bikes that Iíd considered which looked fast and felt fast, but they didnít feel ďeasyĒ. Mr. Brown is all about easy. In his first email to me Charles wrote: ďI suspect that I could build you a bicycle you'd be very happy with.Ē Indeed.




Nice lug details
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Old 06-01-09, 07:49 AM
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Great review, beautiful bike! I'm looking forward to seeing it "in person."
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Old 06-01-09, 08:55 AM
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Beautiful bike and insightful first ride report. Thanks.
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Old 06-01-09, 06:47 PM
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I just discovered last week that Chuck's shop is about 10 miles from my house! I emailed him and am planning on visiting. His frames look to be a good value.
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Old 06-02-09, 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by joelh
I just discovered last week that Chuck's shop is about 10 miles from my house! I emailed him and am planning on visiting. His frames look to be a good value.
A 20 minute drive! Very nice. My visit was only 7 hours away, but well worth it.
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Old 06-02-09, 07:12 AM
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I’m so used to flexy steel frames wagging back and forth underneath me.
Yeah, right.

Just how long is the your Coho bike? What's your idea of a "medium length" chain stay?

The bike pictured looks like its a 108cm wheelbase.
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Old 06-02-09, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Richard Cranium
Just how long is the your Coho bike? What's your idea of a "medium length" chain stay?

The bike pictured looks like its a 108cm wheelbase.
Wheelbase is about 106cm with chain stay length of 45cm
I suppose that would likely be considered long by many.
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Old 06-02-09, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by greaterbrown
A 20 minute drive! Very nice. My visit was only 7 hours away, but well worth it.
But Sabatino's is only a short drive for you
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Old 06-03-09, 05:26 PM
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Nice bike, nice write-up. I can't believe you can put in more than 20 minutes at a time on a saddle tilted that far downward.
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Old 06-03-09, 09:02 PM
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Haha. Many riders tell me that. A lot of it is the shape of Koobi saddles, but I do like my tilt.
I've nosed it up before but it always feels uncomfortable and comes right back down.
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Old 06-04-09, 05:44 PM
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Don't your arms get tired?
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Old 06-04-09, 10:23 PM
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Six jours,

Look at pic #4 above. The camera is level with the top of the saddle. You can see that the center of the saddle is nearly flat. Only the back and nose slant forward.
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Old 06-05-09, 05:45 AM
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Originally Posted by greaterbrown
Six jours,

Look at pic #4 above. The camera is level with the top of the saddle. You can see that the center of the saddle is nearly flat. Only the back and nose slant forward.
That one looks to me like the front half of the saddle is pointing just a bit downward relative to the top tube, and the rear much more downward. I'd feel like I was falling toward the front with that adjustment.
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Old 06-05-09, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Road Fan
I'd feel like I was falling toward the front with that adjustment.
You might be. With bars at that height, I'm not.

It's all about compromise. On my Kogswell with bars much higher, the saddle is much more level. Why? Because in a more upright position, my hips are rotated further back. On the Coho, with much lower bars and riding in the drops, my back is flat, hips rotated forward and probably at about the same angle to the plane of the saddle as on your bike.

The force of pedaling is roughly from the BB to your hips- up and back. I've never quite understood the "I'm sliding forward off my saddle" effect for most saddle tilts. Unless I'm sitting upright no-handing down a hill.
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Old 06-05-09, 08:01 AM
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Thanks for posting, great report.
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Old 06-05-09, 11:44 AM
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cohos are top notch elegant (the components selection is classy: i would grab a matching seatpost though, say a nitto)
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Old 06-06-09, 02:07 PM
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Schveeet! I assume the absence of fenders is only temporary. ;-)

SP
Bend, OR
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Old 06-09-09, 07:20 AM
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Just back from a wonderful ride to/from Cirque du Cyclisme. Very fun time.


Originally Posted by mdiluca
i would grab a matching seatpost though, say a nitto)
I'd have to agree. Currently, I've got a Bontrager SP on there. I had to black out the lettering to save face.

Originally Posted by bobbycorno
Schveeet! I assume the absence of fenders is only temporary. ;-)
No. I'll likely leave this bike fender free. I've got eyelets and vertical dropouts if I change my mind.
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Old 10-13-09, 06:36 PM
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Sorry for the "resurrection" of a dead post. Is that based off the Paisano frame?

I do love the Coho bikes and once I get to a point where a custom bike is a feasibility for me, I think I'm going with it.
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Old 10-14-09, 12:02 PM
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Not a dead post to me. Got several thousand miles on my frame and still loving it.

Coho's are one of the best deals out there. When I spec'ed my bike, I didn't even consider cost. Everything on it is exactly what I what I wanted and the whole shebang was less than $2500
This bike is roughly based on the Paisano- similar geometry. I've got some extra braze-ons and vertical dropouts though.
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Old 10-14-09, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by greaterbrown
Not a dead post to me. Got several thousand miles on my frame and still loving it.

Coho's are one of the best deals out there. When I spec'ed my bike, I didn't even consider cost. Everything on it is exactly what I what I wanted and the whole shebang was less than $2500
This bike is roughly based on the Paisano- similar geometry. I've got some extra braze-ons and vertical dropouts though.
I'm pleased the post is alive too--I've been curious about this builder and wondered about cost. Now I know. Sort of. Do you have a sense of what a frame/fork would be? If not, no big deal.

Thanks for all the info.

Christian
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