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Initial impressions Specialized AWOL base model

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Initial impressions Specialized AWOL base model

Old 04-08-16, 06:53 AM
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Initial impressions Specialized AWOL base model

I recently got a 2014 Specialized AWOL base model with Sora 3x9 drivetrain and mechanical disc brakes and I've had a chance to ride it a few times now. On two rides the bike was unloaded and the third had a moderate load on the front rack. I'm used to riding with a rear rack as a commuter but have never ridden a bike with a front rack. I swapped out the stock wheels after the first ride because the tires were terrible. I rode off the bike path and when riding back onto the asphalt the tire slid along the edge almost causing me to wreck. I put on a set of Wheel Master Rynolite 26x1.5" wheels with Forte 26x2.1" tires. I also installed a SOMA Porteur front rack, Axiom Streamliner rear rack and a set of metal fenders from my parts bin.
The second ride went much better with the new tires. I took it on some trails around the Marin Watershed. The third ride with a large box of parts for the co-op was interesting. I had never ridden a bike with a front load before and it took some getting used to. My forearms got sore very quickly. I got used to the ride after about 5 miles. The bike just doesn't turn like my Serotta. Overall the bike is comfortable. I like the Specialized Phenom BG seat. The rear brake is a little weak but the bike is used so it may have worn or contaminated pads. I've been happy with Avid BB7's before. The front rack may carry its weight a little too high. I will only carry light stuff on the top part for a while and see how that goes.
I'm planning on taking it to Henry Coe State Park near Morgan Hill for some camping in early May and I'll share my experience afterthat trip.

I'm curious what people think of this bike versus a LHT or Trek 920.
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Old 04-08-16, 07:31 AM
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given that its a 700 bike, didnt putting on 26ers make the bike too low and or handle very differently? Arent you concerned about pedal strike? 26 is 559 and 700 is 622 so 6cm lower, although that number may not be exact depending on the tires on both wheel sets--that detail aside, I would be concerned about how much lower the cranks are to the ground, anywhere near 6cm is a lot, 2.5 is an inch I believe, so a good 2 inches lower.
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Old 04-08-16, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by djb
given that its a 700 bike, didnt putting on 26ers make the bike too low and or handle very differently? Arent you concerned about pedal strike? 26 is 559 and 700 is 622 so 6cm lower, although that number may not be exact depending on the tires on both wheel sets--that detail aside, I would be concerned about how much lower the cranks are to the ground, anywhere near 6cm is a lot, 2.5 is an inch I believe, so a good 2 inches lower.
I think a review of a bike where you use a wheelset that the bike isn't remotely designed for is problematic... The geometry is off, the handling is off, the BB height is off... it's not a base model AWOL, it's a frankenbike.
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Old 04-08-16, 07:35 AM
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Any thoughts about the gearing?

Frankenbike is pretty strong words. But I do see your point. Some things can be adjusted. Others are just outside of WNL within normal limits.
The way it is stock looks like a nice bicycle IMHO.

Last edited by Squeezebox; 04-08-16 at 08:11 AM.
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Old 04-08-16, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by djb
given that its a 700 bike, didnt putting on 26ers make the bike too low and or handle very differently? Arent you concerned about pedal strike? 26 is 559 and 700 is 622 so 6cm lower, although that number may not be exact depending on the tires on both wheel sets--that detail aside, I would be concerned about how much lower the cranks are to the ground, anywhere near 6cm is a lot, 2.5 is an inch I believe, so a good 2 inches lower.
It's 3cm lower isn't it? That 6cm adds to both sides of the circle.
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Old 04-08-16, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by elcruxio
It's 3cm lower isn't it? That 6cm adds to both sides of the circle.
of course, my mistake.
so the diff in rim diameter is 63mm, but then the specific tire circumference will come into play here also, so it may be less or more than 3cm lower--still quite a bit from my experience of having pedal strike once in a while on the road.
I don't know enough about bike geometry to have an opinion on how it changes how the bike handles, being lower at both front and back.
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Old 04-08-16, 08:02 AM
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I would say Frankenbike is far too strong a term for what the OP is done. There isn't that much difference between the geometry of a 26" and a 700c wheel bike. The biggest difference is BB drop and if you use fat 26" tires, it's generally not a problem. It will change the ride of a bike but not in any kind of strange way. Putting 26" wheels and fat tire on a 29'er MTB just makes it ride like a touring bike. Nothing strange, Nothing wonky and well within the normal parameters of bike handling.

The AWOL has a 70cm BB drop and the OP put 55mm 26" tires on it. That comes out to an approximate BB height of 26.8cm, which isn't all that low. I think some of the endurance gravel bikes being advocated by folks like Jan Heine & Ravn Cycles have lower BB's.

I've put 26" x 55mm tires on my Karate Monkey and it didn't give it the handling characteristics of a Troll (BB is too low) but it was probably similar to a 26" Long Haul Trucker, in the way it rode.

I agree that the OP's post isn't a valid review for someone wanting a stock AWOL but it is a nice post of some out of the box thinking and experimenting with what is generally considered a very good bike.
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Old 04-08-16, 08:08 AM
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I'm having an AWOL built up for me.
Will be ready end of next week, I think.

I wouldnt dream of putting 26" wheels on it. But if it works for you..... The bike can take 2" tires on the stock 700c wheels, I think.
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Old 04-08-16, 08:45 AM
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It can actually take up to 29x2.35 Big Apples, but only without the Sora 3x9 front derailleur which will interfere with anything much wider than 700x47 (29x1.7 or so) tires. There have been pics of 650B conversions floating around, but I haven't seen pics of a 26er conversion.

The 2014 base model did not come with a pizza rack, which is a type of porteur rack, but if you look at the 2015 X Polar AWOL which had one, you can see that many loads have two bags on the sides of the lower parts of the rack, in an arrangement close to low rider positioning, getting the weight low. Light but bulky items then go on the wide top. The bike's designer, Erik Nohlin adds a bikepacking saddlebag to a loadout like that. Maybe OP has too much weight up high if his front rack does not have attachment points for bags in under either side od the top platform.
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Old 04-08-16, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by corwin1968
... generally considered a very good bike.
I'm not sure why an informed person would consider the AWOL "a very good bike".

AWOL has massive chainstays (CS), made from large diameter tubing to ensure adequate frame rigidity for use with Gates belt drive. This was supposedly an issue in reliability of Gate's first generation belt drive. Since Gate's revised design to Centertrack it apparently works better, but I suspect problems were more due to Gate's original belt/pulley design rather than CS rigidity.

All models of AWOL bikes have the big CS, but except for some 2014 versions none of them have the rocker dropout required to tension a chain/belt necessary with an IGH (Shimano, Rohloff). This feature is missing on complete AWOL bikes, made superfluous by their derailleur drives, but the frame still has oversized CS which probably add only weight and a rigid ride. It would have been smarter to put normal-sized CS on AWOLs sold as bicycles, but they were apparently left on so that the AWOL Expert frameset (which DOES include rocker dropouts) could be economically manufactured. Oversized CSs may be useful for the minority of AWOLs sold as framesets, but they're just weird on most AWOLs which are sold as derailleur-drive complete bicycles.

AWOL Expert framesets were originally billed as IGH compatible, which to many people meant Rohloff-capable. Turns out AWOL was Shimano IGH capable only, because the original rocker dropout failed to correctly implement Rohloff OEM2 dropout capability (without it you could fit Speedhub only with the ugly torque arm). Specialized promised a fix in 2015, but delayed until 2016 (presumably, I have no confirmation it's sorted out even now). If Rohloff OEM2 dropouts are now correct on the Expert, then you have a $700 Rohloff IGH/Gates belt drive capable touring frameset, which seems pretty good.

Probably to avoid toe-overlap on a full-fendered big-tire 700c-wheeled frame, AWOLs in all sizes have long top tubes and long reach (for a frame intended to be built with drop handlebars). Because they're so long, Specialized has to equip short stems on the complete bikes to get them to actually fit bicyclists - 45mm on S, 70mm on M, 80mm on L. This long reach is cause for concern for informed bicycle shoppers. Proper fit is very important.

BB height is not ideal strictly for touring purposes. AWOL's 70mm BB drop is more of a road/cyclocross BB height. Extra ground clearance is not usually needed for touring, but lower center of gravity for good control with pannier loads is desirable, which is why touring bikes normally have BB drop closer to 80mm for 700c frames.

The rocker dropouts on the Expert frameset have a rack mount point ~5cm higher and ~3cm forward of the axle center, which will locate rack and bags higher and closer to heel-strike zone. This isn't terrible, but certainly not good either, as it effectively reduces the 455mm CS length of the AWOL to ~425mm, before using any of the 12mm of rocker dropout rear adjustment for chain/belt tensioning.

Salsa frames with Alternator rocker-style dropouts have the same issue to greater extent, where the rack mount point is 8cm higher and ~1.5cm forward of the axle center, forcing Salsa to design custom short-leg racks to fit the Vaya, Marrakesh and Fargo. I think it is a mistake to force customers to use an oddball rack that will fit only the Salsa. Conventional rear racks will have a 5-7cm gap above the fender on an Alternator-dropout Salsa bike, which looks odd and raises the rear load, compromising handling.

If Surly would swap an eccentric bottom bracket into the Disc Trucker and sell it for $700, I think they'd have an extremely popular bike. I'd prefer they also reduce TT/reach by 1cm and increase stack/head tube length 2cm, which would yield a DT geometrically much like a Salsa Vaya, except available with 26" wheels.

WRT OP, the first time you pedal through a leaned turn you might get pedal strike, as you are in the mid-260s BB height-wise - especially if you're using platform pedals. You certainly cannot swap smaller tires onto those 26" wheels. 650B wheels with big tires would be a better compromise for BB-height and trail. The only reason 26" wheels even work in this case is that the AWOL has a 296mm BB height with apparently a 29x2.1-2.2" design wheel circumference (296+70)x2 + 70=732mm circumference).

PS - Having written too much already, I just discovered the AWOL Expert frameset has been discontinued for 2016, sizes S and M only still available for order. So they never got around to making it Rohloff capable. Specialized just revised the AWOL page, which has been inaccessible for several days.
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Old 04-08-16, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by seeker333
I'm not sure why an informed person would consider the AWOL "a very good bike".
My comment was based on the vast majority of the comments I've seen on the AWOL being positive, rather than first-hand knowledge. I've seen a lot of excitement about the AWOL and the OP was providing some additional information for people interested in the bike. That's the extent of what I was saying.
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Old 04-08-16, 02:21 PM
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I test rode the bike a few times, and that why I'm buying it.

I'm not super savvy on frame building, but I've been at this biking thing for a long time with a wide variety of experiences. So I have a good sense of what works for me.

Of course, nothing compares to putting a few hundred miles on the bikes. I'll present my report then.
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Old 04-08-16, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by seeker333
I'm not sure why an informed person would consider the AWOL "a very good bike".

AWOL has massive chainstays (CS), made from large diameter tubing to ensure adequate frame rigidity for use with Gates belt drive. This was supposedly an issue in reliability of Gate's first generation belt drive. Since Gate's revised design to Centertrack it apparently works better, but I suspect problems were more due to Gate's original belt/pulley design rather than CS rigidity.

All models of AWOL bikes have the big CS, but except for some 2014 versions none of them have the rocker dropout required to tension a chain/belt necessary with an IGH (Shimano, Rohloff). This feature is missing on complete AWOL bikes, made superfluous by their derailleur drives, but the frame still has oversized CS which probably add only weight and a rigid ride. It would have been smarter to put normal-sized CS on AWOLs sold as bicycles, but they were apparently left on so that the AWOL Expert frameset (which DOES include rocker dropouts) could be economically manufactured. Oversized CSs may be useful for the minority of AWOLs sold as framesets, but they're just weird on most AWOLs which are sold as derailleur-drive complete bicycles.

AWOL Expert framesets were originally billed as IGH compatible, which to many people meant Rohloff-capable. Turns out AWOL was Shimano IGH capable only, because the original rocker dropout failed to correctly implement Rohloff OEM2 dropout capability (without it you could fit Speedhub only with the ugly torque arm). Specialized promised a fix in 2015, but delayed until 2016 (presumably, I have no confirmation it's sorted out even now). If Rohloff OEM2 dropouts are now correct on the Expert, then you have a $700 Rohloff IGH/Gates belt drive capable touring frameset, which seems pretty good.

Probably to avoid toe-overlap on a full-fendered big-tire 700c-wheeled frame, AWOLs in all sizes have long top tubes and long reach (for a frame intended to be built with drop handlebars). Because they're so long, Specialized has to equip short stems on the complete bikes to get them to actually fit bicyclists - 45mm on S, 70mm on M, 80mm on L. This long reach is cause for concern for informed bicycle shoppers. Proper fit is very important.

BB height is not ideal strictly for touring purposes. AWOL's 70mm BB drop is more of a road/cyclocross BB height. Extra ground clearance is not usually needed for touring, but lower center of gravity for good control with pannier loads is desirable, which is why touring bikes normally have BB drop closer to 80mm for 700c frames.

The rocker dropouts on the Expert frameset have a rack mount point ~5cm higher and ~3cm forward of the axle center, which will locate rack and bags higher and closer to heel-strike zone. This isn't terrible, but certainly not good either, as it effectively reduces the 455mm CS length of the AWOL to ~425mm, before using any of the 12mm of rocker dropout rear adjustment for chain/belt tensioning.

Salsa frames with Alternator rocker-style dropouts have the same issue to greater extent, where the rack mount point is 8cm higher and ~1.5cm forward of the axle center, forcing Salsa to design custom short-leg racks to fit the Vaya, Marrakesh and Fargo. I think it is a mistake to force customers to use an oddball rack that will fit only the Salsa. Conventional rear racks will have a 5-7cm gap above the fender on an Alternator-dropout Salsa bike, which looks odd and raises the rear load, compromising handling.

If Surly would swap an eccentric bottom bracket into the Disc Trucker and sell it for $700, I think they'd have an extremely popular bike. I'd prefer they also reduce TT/reach by 1cm and increase stack/head tube length 2cm, which would yield a DT geometrically much like a Salsa Vaya, except available with 26" wheels.

WRT OP, the first time you pedal through a leaned turn you might get pedal strike, as you are in the mid-260s BB height-wise - especially if you're using platform pedals. You certainly cannot swap smaller tires onto those 26" wheels. 650B wheels with big tires would be a better compromise for BB-height and trail. The only reason 26" wheels even work in this case is that the AWOL has a 296mm BB height with apparently a 29x2.1-2.2" design wheel circumference (296+70)x2 + 70=732mm circumference).

PS - Having written too much already, I just discovered the AWOL Expert frameset has been discontinued for 2016, sizes S and M only still available for order. So they never got around to making it Rohloff capable. Specialized just revised the AWOL page, which has been inaccessible for several days.

Super informative post. Thanks for that.
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Old 04-08-16, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by djb
given that its a 700 bike, didnt putting on 26ers make the bike too low and or handle very differently? Arent you concerned about pedal strike? 26 is 559 and 700 is 622 so 6cm lower, although that number may not be exact depending on the tires on both wheel sets--that detail aside, I would be concerned about how much lower the cranks are to the ground, anywhere near 6cm is a lot, 2.5 is an inch I believe, so a good 2 inches lower.
One of the things that attracted me to the AWOL was that several of the reviewers said you could use a variety of wheels including 26", 650B, 700 and 29". You can see it reflected in this quote from a review posted at this link Specialized Awol Comp Custom | Cycle/Naturel We choose the Awol from Specialized because it suited best what we are looking for in a touring bike. You can put either a 26 inches wheel or 700c. You can use “narrow” 32c tires or “beefy” 29X2.1 ones. It’s versatility charmed us a travellers as you won’t be stuck somewhere because of a faulty part, or in the worst case scenario, you can replace it with anything else.

The main reason I put the 26" wheels on the bike was because I had them on hand. I also intend to use this bike for bike camping so I wanted an aggresive off road tire.

I've had a pedal strike before and I agree this is a concern but the tires I used on the 26" had a lot of side wall. I set the fenders up with the 26" mountain bike wheels on the bike and when I swapped the 700C wheels back in to check clearance the stock wheels are actually a bit shorter. I don't have the bike with me but I will measure the distance from the pedal to the ground with both wheelsets and report what I find.

Originally Posted by mdilthey
I think a review of a bike where you use a wheelset that the bike isn't remotely designed for is problematic... The geometry is off, the handling is off, the BB height is off... it's not a base model AWOL, it's a frankenbike.
Really frankenbike?

Originally Posted by elcruxio
It's 3cm lower isn't it? That 6cm adds to both sides of the circle.
Good catch but let's remember that's the diameter of the rim not the tire

Originally Posted by PDKL45
It can actually take up to 29x2.35 Big Apples, but only without the Sora 3x9 front derailleur which will interfere with anything much wider than 700x47 (29x1.7 or so) tires. There have been pics of 650B conversions floating around, but I haven't seen pics of a 26er conversion.

The 2014 base model did not come with a pizza rack, which is a type of porteur rack, but if you look at the 2015 X Polar AWOL which had one, you can see that many loads have two bags on the sides of the lower parts of the rack, in an arrangement close to low rider positioning, getting the weight low. Light but bulky items then go on the wide top. The bike's designer, Erik Nohlin adds a bikepacking saddlebag to a loadout like that. Maybe OP has too much weight up high if his front rack does not have attachment points for bags in under either side od the top platform.
The SOMA Porteur rack that I'm using does have mounts for bags on the lower parts of the sides. Here is the pic I have of when I was test fitting the 26" wheels. I can post a more current pictuer of the bike when I go to my place in Marin on Monday.



Compare where the tire meets up with the chain ring in the rear in this picture from the eBay auction and you can see these tires are very close to the same size as the originals

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Old 04-08-16, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Squeezebox
Any thoughts about the gearing?

Frankenbike is pretty strong words. But I do see your point. Some things can be adjusted. Others are just outside of WNL within normal limits.
The way it is stock looks like a nice bicycle IMHO.
The gearing is pretty much the same as on a 90's mountain bike with a little more skew towards speed instead super low geraring with the 50/39/30 triple. It has a 11-32t rear so hills havent been a problem. I haven't had that much weight on the bike yet either though.
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Old 04-08-16, 09:03 PM
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I guess you can simply measure both wheel tire sets to see the diff in circumference of both, and you'll have to see if riding with it lower causes any problems. If not, then who cares. In fact, from a purely visual pt of view, it looks fine with the 26x2.1 on it. doesnt look clownlike at all.

re gearing, those fsa cranks look like one I have on a tricross, and its fairly easy to change out the 30t to a 26t, and that sora fd will probably behave like my 9 speed era tiagra fd and you wont have to touch a thing for it to work perfectly. Personally, having toured on a 50/39/26, a trekking crank like the shimano 48/36/26 would be a much better crank for really touring, as the 39 is a bit tall sometimes, but still, it will work, especially withchanging out the granny to a smaller one. I dont remember if that crankset can go lower than a 26, i forget the bcd info and all that.

be careful of that pump bakc there, lots of crud will go in the opening, and be aware that the little end piece you unscrew to switch shraeder to presta can come loose over time with vibrations. just watch out for it in any case.
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Old 04-08-16, 09:16 PM
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seeker- I dont see the issue with larger chainstays, if anything, I would think that that would help the bike be more secure with a rear load. My old mtn bike has big thick rear sections, and it handles a lopsided load when commuting very well, and with two loaded rear panniers, the burly frame really keeps things in line, ie I dont see a downside--except for the issue you mention of comfort, but this is a steel frame, and watching tire pressures goes a huge way to controlling harshness, in my experience anyway.

the long reach issue, certainly a possible issue for someone who needs to go shorter in stem. but then surly bikes tend to be long in toptube too.

the high rack points certainly could be an issue, I guess its something to be certainly aware of when rack researching. and a real plus for rack models with lower mount tubes, the second set of ones I mean.

bb height--to be honest, Ive never felt a problem using bikes with higher bb, in terms of stability etc. Ive ridden my mtn bike with 1.5 and 2in slicks and its no more unstable than other bikes I have with lower bbs, even at any speed Ive been at, around 70 80kph and going around corners fast. again, just my experience , that it doesnt seem to be a problem.

re this lower bb with 26in wheels, it certainly could be a problem, but I guess like i said , he can make some measurements and compare them to other bikes. and of course, how it rides with the 26 ers is another thing, but we cant ascertain that, only he can, but I agree, putting 1.5s on it may be too low to be safe, but who knows.
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Old 04-08-16, 10:50 PM
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Originally Posted by djb
I guess you can simply measure both wheel tire sets to see the diff in circumference of both, and you'll have to see if riding with it lower causes any problems. If not, then who cares. In fact, from a purely visual pt of view, it looks fine with the 26x2.1 on it. doesnt look clownlike at all.

re gearing, those fsa cranks look like one I have on a tricross, and its fairly easy to change out the 30t to a 26t, and that sora fd will probably behave like my 9 speed era tiagra fd and you wont have to touch a thing for it to work perfectly. Personally, having toured on a 50/39/26, a trekking crank like the shimano 48/36/26 would be a much better crank for really touring, as the 39 is a bit tall sometimes, but still, it will work, especially withchanging out the granny to a smaller one. I dont remember if that crankset can go lower than a 26, i forget the bcd info and all that.

be careful of that pump bakc there, lots of crud will go in the opening, and be aware that the little end piece you unscrew to switch shraeder to presta can come loose over time with vibrations. just watch out for it in any case.
Thanks for the advice on the front crank. The front derailleur has a capacity of 20T which is probably why they're using a 30T chainring instead of a 26T. I may end up swapping to a 46/36/26 set up to get the lower range because this bike will primarily be climbing fire roads around Mount Tamalapias. Also thanks on the pump advice, There is a fender on therear tire now too so it will see less crub but I'll wrap some electrical tape around the valve opening to protect it.
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Old 04-09-16, 01:50 AM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by djb
be careful of that pump back there, lots of crud will go in the opening
That's what they make condoms for isn't it?
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Old 04-09-16, 04:40 AM
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Originally Posted by eastbay71
... on the pump advice, There is a fender on therear tire now too so it will see less crub but I'll wrap some electrical tape around the valve opening to protect it.
On my Toppeak pump, I simply put a small piece of electrical tape over the chuck opening, no need to wrap it around.
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Old 04-09-16, 07:45 AM
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Am I the only one who thinks Frankenbikes are cool? Flexibility is a good thing in my books, and the notion of using other wheels with different tires to realize the same outer diameter has really come of age lately. The WTB 650B Scraper Rim with 27.5x2.8 Trailblazer tire for 29ers is a good example of this. Plus, as OP's photos show, the 26er Wheels with 2.1 tires have virtually the same outer diameter as the original wheels/tires. Incidentally, what is the frame size OP?

I own an AWOL and I think it's a fine bike. The chunky chain stays are coupled with thin seat stays, allowing for some degree of ride comfort. The top tube is long, but that's because the AWOL was never meant to be a traditional road bike. It has a healthy amount of mountain bike DNA and was always designed as an adventure/gravel bike, rather than a traditional touring bike. How is offsetting a long top tube with a short stem a bad thing? Yes, bike fit is important, and that's the reason for the short stem. Had the bike been fitted with a long flat stem there would have been reason to criticize it, but as it is, I think it is fine. There's no toe overlap and I think the short stem makes the steering responsive. Plus, with the long top tube, you can always add a longer stem and flat bars, as others have done with Jones loop bars.

The 30-39-50 crankset is slightly big, but as OP noted, the front derailleur has a total capacity of 20 teeth. I have a Shimano HG400-9 12-36t cassette waiting to be put onto mine, along with an M592 rear derailleur for a lower gear. That will make fire roads a little more friendly. More here: Low Gear Range: Road Shifters & Gears For Easier Hill Climbing - CyclingAbout CyclingAbout
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Old 04-09-16, 08:07 AM
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re front derailleur capacity, I'm sure I looked up the specs on my tiagra fd, but I dont recall those details--but suffice to say that sometimes you can go past conservative capacities with drivetrain stuff and it can be alright. All I know is that when I put the 26 on, I figured the actual distance teh chain would be lower wouldnt be that much, and sure enough, the fd had plenty of room to handle it with no rubbing issues....although this is the tiagra fd, dont know if the shape and whatnot of the sora is the same, I suspect yes, as sora replaced tiagra in the 9 speed dept.

only way to find out is to buy a cheap 26 and put it on. I did however have to put some washers as shims between the crank and the ring, to set it out the proper amount as the original fsa ring was--which had a slight shape to it that set the ring a bit away from the crank, my replacement 26 was perfectly flat, so a bit too much close to teh crank.
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Old 04-09-16, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by PDKL45
Am I the only one who thinks Frankenbikes are cool? Flexibility is a good thing in my books, and the notion of using other wheels with different tires to realize the same outer diameter has really come of age lately. The WTB 650B Scraper Rim with 27.5x2.8 Trailblazer tire for 29ers is a good example of this. Plus, as OP's photos show, the 26er Wheels with 2.1 tires have virtually the same outer diameter as the original wheels/tires. Incidentally, what is the frame size OP?
Thanks @PDKL45, I think Frankenbikes are cool too. I've built several Retro Roadies and drop bar mountain bikes. The AWOL is the bike I wanted my drop bar mountain bikes to be. This bike was sold as a small on eBay but I think it's a medium. I would have to measure to be sure. I usually ride a 52cm road bike and this fits me great.

Sounds like we're on similar upgrade paths. Have you considered the TRP cable actuated hydraulic brakes? I think that will be one of my next upgrades.


Originally Posted by djb
re front derailleur capacity, I'm sure I looked up the specs on my tiagra fd, but I dont recall those details--but suffice to say that sometimes you can go past conservative capacities with drivetrain stuff and it can be alright. All I know is that when I put the 26 on, I figured the actual distance teh chain would be lower wouldnt be that much, and sure enough, the fd had plenty of room to handle it with no rubbing issues....although this is the tiagra fd, dont know if the shape and whatnot of the sora is the same, I suspect yes, as sora replaced tiagra in the 9 speed dept.
Shimano Sora FD-3503 and Tiagra FD-4503 have all the same specs but I would be interested in trying the 26 just to see if it would work. Like you said Shimano's specs are conservative
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Old 04-09-16, 10:03 PM
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Maybe the seller sold it as a small because he was obviously too big for it. No one has mentioned his Ebay photo, but the stem riser and wildly extended seatpost seem to tell that story.

At the moment there are about 5 different directions I want to go in with my bike, so I have told myself to take a deep breath and be calm for now. First will be rear cassette and derailleur and then maybe an MTB triple with a shiftmate 7 for the STI levers. Fatter rubber in the form of 29x2.1 thickslicks or 29x2.35 big apples may follow.

That said, I am really liking the stock fenders at the moment as they keep the bike so clean, and your 26er wheel conversion really looks like it has maintained the bottom bracket height to within a few cm of the original. 26er wheels with 26x2.35 Schwalbe big apples would fit with room for the fenders. I will keep the BB7s for now, I am enjoying the simplicity of cable disc brakes after my old Magura Louise hydraulics. The TRP brakes are cool, though.
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Old 04-09-16, 11:48 PM
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Love my AWOL. I bought a 2016 Elite early last year when they first became available. It's easily one of the best "off the shelf" commuters one can buy. I added a dynamo hub and lights and switched to Armadillo tires. I even like the Phenom saddle. How many people can say they like their OEM saddle? Racks and fenders are absolute top quality. Wheelset not so much, but they gotta make their money somewhere. Getting bags on the front rack can be challenging because the rack has a flat top which overhangs the sides.

The fit is excellent. Long top tube, short stem is something I'd like to stick with. Having done both, I'd rather run a long top tube with an 80mm stem than a short top tube with a 120mm stem. The stack is really high so you feel "in the bike." I don't like my bars too high, so I flipped the stem downward and pulled a spacer. I'm a Clyde, so when I'm fully loaded I exceed the weight limit but the bike rides nice and stable with no discernible noodling. Also, wider tires are the way to go -- fatties at lower pressure make for a smoooooth ride. I'm not fast. Never was. I've come to terms with it and have decided to be comfortable instead. I've nailed it.

IMO, the AWOL may be one of the best "do it all" bikes around -- as long as "all" doesn't include racing. Gravel, touring, commuting? I've done them all on my AWOL and been very happy. I plan on keeping this one for a long, long time.


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