So, I was out trying bicycles for fun. I rode a Bike Friday Tikit. I rode a Surly Long Haul Trucker. Two of the bikes that have piqued my curiosity lately. I might go out and test ride some others – filling out the ticket, if I can find them in my size, a Salsa Casseroll, a Novara Randonee, or a Jamis Aurora.
The Tikit is a very slick bike for what it is, but I really don’t think I have enough of a call for a travel bike, and the 16″ wheels are not ideal for every day riding. It came off feeling very sketchy at low speeds and I’m not sure how much better it would have gotten at high speeds. I was also worried every time I came to a crack or pothole that it would grab that tiny tire and make me eat gravel. The frame didn’t feel loose or flexy in the slightest though, it’s an engineering marvel. Perhaps when I’m older and awesomer, I’ll look at something like a New World Tourist, for biking on vacations.
The Long Haul Trucker, however, is just a very well thought out bike. It’s surprisingly quick for as “heavy” as it is (it’s heavy only by racey standards, I think it’s probably lighter than my IRO commuter, despite having gears and derailleurs), and it is a remarkably well engineered machine. It is, in a word, solid. You could take one out of the box and probably do a nation-spanning tour on it without thinking twice about the machine itself. The barend shifters are simplicity itself (so good, in fact, I bought a set just now on eBay) and the handling is superb. It goes where you want it to go without steering resistance or whippiness. It was almost good enough to make me buy it on the spot, and were I not such a bike nerd bitch tinkering doofus, I probably would have.
But I am, so I bought something else instead…
Yep, I decided that instead of buying one of the best thought out, most solid bicycles I have ever put between my thighs, I should buy a 30 year old basketcase from a company with a record of fucked up threading, made during an era where quality control was a joke.
Because, quite clearly, I am a genius. (The 95% lower price helped swing the scales, as did the idea of doing some fangly bike stuff)
Anyways, the pictures there show it in my old Formula/CXP22 fixed gear wheels (which I bought for my first fixed gear, ironically, also a Raleigh from this era), and I’ve stripped off the Raleigh-branded Suntour derailleurs and stem-shifters (blech). It’s got the Worlds Nastiest Brooks on there, for the time being. I need to source a new seatpost (I guess it’s 25.4, there’s no markings on the post itself, other than the Sturmey branding) and a new saddle, really. Look at this thing.
It’s the inverse of comfort and quality. It’s the vinyl manifestation of Raleigh of Nottingham’s pride being drawn and quartered.
Anyhow, I am trying to decide what to do with it. For now, I think I’ll clean it up, upgrade the seat, put my old fixed wheels on there, and ride it around for a bit. Probably put some nice cartridge brake pads on the front centerpull, yank the back one off (for now), and use it as a fair weather rig. I will definitely be taking the stupid turkeywings off, and the very poor quality levers with them. I might be installing a set of riser bars for the time being, just to see how I like it, but I have some other drop levers I can install on these bars (they’re not terrible) if need be.
In the long run, I kind of want to set this up as the road-ier bike. Skinnier tires (28’s maybe), higher gearing (I’m thinking about a Sturmey Archer 8-speed internal gear hub). I’m thinking about taking the Nitto Randonneur bars off the IRO and putting them onto this bike, and putting the riser bars onto the IRO, which could have some coolness. Maybe I’ll pick up some Mary bars for it. Hmmm.
Short shopping list, a new lockring, another set of ATAC pedals, some nice brake pads, probably a new chain.
Long shopping list, a new set of cranks, a 1/8 chainring, an internal gear hub… the list goes on.