Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bike paralysis by analysis

This is a complete and total stealing of a blog idea from anniebikes blog. Miss Annie writes about the ideal bicycle out of her stable and I am going to write the same post here instead of blog-jacking her nice site with the sort of nonsense that bounces off my keyboard.

The premise? Can you reduce your bike stable to just one ideal, for you, ride???

Spoiler alert....If you don't want to keep reading....I don't think you can get to one perfect ride.

Now, many of you ride along on the one bike you own and you are perfectly happy with that. I understand. You have a purpose for your riding and your bike fulfills that purpose and all is right with the world. I maybe could use some of that singular pleasure and fulfillment in life. But noooo, I find a need to muddy the waters with choices!

Here we go!
I have three bikes and I actively ride all three. I have one more bike, the 1979 Univega that I rebuilt and gave to one of my boys to ride. He enjoyed it and rode it as a commuter for almost two years. He recently got himself a 29er and the Univega came back home in need of some tune-up help. Not sure what I will do with this bike so it is not included here.

In no particular order:

My touring bike

Pack it on, load it up, does not seem to matter to the bike. The rider (Me!) just has to pedal it.
Close to the ideal bike. It is very comfortable, easy to ride. Steel frame with 38's for tires gives a road absorbing plush ride. Can double as a commuter because I can put one bag on the back rack and bring my workout stuff and lunch for the work day. It has tire size that can handle rolling along pavement or you can get more aggressive with the tred and it will handle dirt, forest service roads. I have this set up with the albatross bars for a very upright touring posture, seat and bars are on the same plane. I really did get this bike to be a bicycle tourist and it has served me well for that purpose. Every summer I have been out somewhere as my vacation time has allowed, tours around Colorado and down into New Mexico along with some simple overnighters. Laying the groundwork for a future in some years ahead that includes retirement and some longer multi-week tours. My idea of an ideal bike has to perform this function This bike is the equivalent to driving a Suburban in the car world.
The downsides???? OK, it is heavy and a bit slow a foot, especially if you are used to a super light road bike. I would not want to attempt any single track on this bike although I am sure it could do it as long as it is not too extreme. Which leads me to bike #2


Not sure what to call this bike yet!

I only have had this bike since August this past summer. It is still growing on me. Why, this bike? I have some friends that do not ride out on the road and I was thinking I sure would like to join them at times. But I am honest with myself and I will never enjoy some real single track crashing around. Smashing around tree roots, rocks, bouncing off trees and bailing out into bushes or the grassy knoll does not really appeal to me. What does appeal to me are rides on forest service or country dirt roads. Gravel grinding is the popular term that is used today. I wanted a ride that can step it up and go beyond the roads that I am comfortable taking LHT on. I did not want to subject LHT to some of the pounding and beat down that can be present on FS roads. Ogre handles this with ease, sorry to say, way easier than this riders off road bike skills. I am the first to admit I have more bike here than I deserve and/or my skills/talents can justify. That said....it sure is nice to have the bike under you when ever the terrain gets tough.
XXL steel frame, Headpost extension with a short stem, (this accommodates my crazy t-rex arms that don't match my overall height!) and Surly open bars to give me an upright touring position. My ultimate goal with this bike is participate in some off pavement touring. The before mentioned FS road tours, rails to trails, and ultimately, a big dream of mine, The Great Divide Route. 29er size rims with 29x2.1 stock tires that came with Surly's complete bike kit. My thinking is, the ideal tour will combine pavement, country gravel, a little single track, just an enjoyment of touring with no road condition limitations. This could be the bike for that!
The versatility of this bike is only contained by your imagination. This bike has so many braze-on attachments for racks, fenders,anything cages.
 If you look at the Ogre build thread on Mountain Bike Forums there is every version you can think of. Guys build them as single speed town bikes, 1x9 bombers, 3x climbers like mine, Roloff hubs for ultimate touring. Guys have them set up with frame bags for super light bikepackers. With trailers for grocery grabbers or set up as kid haulers up and down urban bikepaths.
This is pretty close to the Ultimate do-all ride.
The only drawbacks?????  Like the LHT, it is a heavy ride, a bit clunky on pavement, although more nimble footed than you would expect. It is actually more nimble than LHT as an around town commuter. As I ride this bike more and get to know its ride.....this may move into #1 on my list as the one bike to have if I had to have only one.
That said.....I am agreeing with my bike friend TJ.Comstock. As I ride this bike on pavement I look down at those wide tires and wish for my more pavement friendly 38's on LHT or the 32's on my roadie which leads us to bike #3


 Yes, this is the Jim version of a road bike. Why this bike?? Well, After having the LHT I found a desire to get involved in riding some of the charity rides that were one day events of different lengths. I belonged to a little online group of bike riders and there was an appeal to ride with them in events like the Santa Fe Century ride. This called for some type of road ride that was a bit lighter and more nimble than LHT. I found this bike from an old friend who had bought it in the XL frame but he found it too big, so he gave me a wonderful price on a bike that had about 100 miles on it. It is an aluminum frame. I modified it to get it to a more comfortable upright ride that I liked. Headset extension and shorted stem like my other bikes. Triple chainring, I ride mostly in the mountains so the gearing is important. All my bikes have triples. Brooks Imperial saddle. I run a handlebar bag on this bike.....I know, added weight but the tourer in me likes having my stuff with me for every possibility that may occur. I will never be a super fast rider that a super light, wonder road machine would pay dividends. If this bike had not fallen into my lap, I would probably be riding a steel version of a road bike. I just like the ride that a steel frame gives me. I just upgraded the tires on this bike from the 25's that came with it, to 32's. I am glad that there is room for the 32's to fit in the frame. This really smoothed out the ride for me....it is pretty nice! Slower??? Probably, but like I said, I'll never be fast, so I might as well be comfortable. The whole idea of this bike was have a road machine that I can sit on for a century....eight hours on the saddle for me folks at my pace....and I have achieved it!
This is my go to bike when I want to put in some miles on a ride. Whether I am getting ready to ride a road ride event or I am getting ready for a tour, this is the bike I put miles in on. It is fun to ride and very comfortable even when the miles and hours pile up. Yet, this would be the last choice if I had to just pick one to have forever. I need that versatility of packing my stuff on the bike and heading out on a tour. I love the daily commute and the just riding and putzing around town on bikes but I always have a tour in the back of my mind that I am pointing towards.

Those are my three rides. Are they the best or most expensive bikes out there??? Not even close. But they are set up to fit me and I am very happy with how they all work for my riding and purpose.

To add on to this post, I got the real first ride of 2014 in this last Saturday. My truck had to go to the dealership in Loveland for some warranty work where they had to keep it. It was a pretty nice day for us so I decided to pack the bike and just ride back up the mountain.
 Lets Go! Get this year going!

Back up there where the wind monsters reside. Obligatory Longs Peak picture!
A nice cruise back through neighborhood streets in Loveland. I rolled through old town Lovland and stopped for second breakfast. I was down to just one layer and no beanie under the helmet. Luxury riding!!

Made my way back to the narrows of Big Thompson canyon and....oh yeah...it might still be winter.
Traffic was surprisingly a bit heavy. I guess people still want to be looky-loos to see flood damage. Kiewit is still working cleaning up piles of tree and flood debris and they had one lane closed for a section. The super nice flag girls let me ride through by myself!
Most of the canyon you had to pay attention and not wander off the shoulder too far!!
All in all a good first ride. A bit ambitious but that is how one gets ready for Santa Fe!!

Is there one ultimate ride??? Yes, for many of you there is. For me?? I am so lucky to have found the bikes that I own and thus I don't have to make that choice. My choice is; what bike do I ride today!!

Safe rides and tailwinds everybody!!
Thanks for reading!@


  1. There is no such thing as too many bikes! Each of yours has a definite purpose, and therefore becomes a necessary part of the bike stable, one you'd miss greatly if it wasn't there. If I had the Ogre ..... I'd call it an expedition bike. Capable of anything. Look at changing out the tires to Bruce Gordon Rock and Road 43's. I think you'll like the bike even more and won't reduce the mountain-bike-ability of it.
    I'd say you have a severe case of cabin fever! I am in a dilemma over my mountain bike right now. It's a good ride, and the time I've spent on it made me appreciate it's comfort and component quality ...... with one exception. The Cannondale headshok front suspension. It went out for the third time (five years, but only about 1700 miles) and left me stranded with a flat, again ... (suspension is air) ... $150 to fix each time. Cannondale has discontinued this and wants me to replace it with a Rockshox (4 1/2 pounds) and I'm not sure I want to do that. I'm still considering rigid, but don't really want to mess up the geometry of the bike either. On the other hand .... I'd really miss the bike, I do already. So, you see, it's hard to do without one after you've had it.
    Hang in there Jim .... Spring will be here before you know it!

    1. You are right...spring will be here at some point. I am just looking for the nicer winter days to get some miles piled up! We need to get past the single digit temps and big winds!
      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. It was a pleasure reading this post Jim. 3 bikes, must be enough for the purposes you mentioned above: you're a cyclist, not a racer. I've got 3 bikes too: one for shopping and city rides, one for the road and one spare. Thinking of buying a new one for the road.

    1. Thank you Henk, and thanks for stopping by. Do you live in a city or a small town environment? I know your country is so much better set up for cyclists.

  3. Jim nice breakdown. While I can see the one bike to rule them all side of things I have long since gone over to the N+1 equation of how many bikes do you need? where N is the number of bikes you currently have. Someday I dream of having the space to build the bike equivalent of a motorized tie rack,, Hmm what I am feeling like today? the simplicity of a single speed? maybe some 'cross? a fully lugged go fast? So many bikes so little time. Love the Ogre btw that looks like one fun ride!

  4. It is a fun ride. I am going to do a 5 day ride on the Katy trail on this bike in June. Looking forward to it!
    Thanks for stopping in.

  5. Nice bikes, Jim. Thanks for the thoughtful comments on my blog.

    Don't worry, you didn't steal the one-bike-fits-all post from me. It wasn't an original idea --I got it from another blog. But it does get one to thinking...

  6. Hi Jim

    Further to conversation we were having on my blog, I posted my response to THIS blog post of yours, then realised I should have put that HERE. :)

    I fall in the "No One Bike for Everything" camp. Although... I did read somewhere that if you have a custom frame built, you should aim for it to satisfy the BULK of your riding needs. That's what I did. If I could only have one bike, that would be the one. But I also need: a tough, less flashy/expensive bike I can leave looked up in town for hours at a time (hence the Cross Check) and something that can go on the trains during peak travel times aka rush hour (hence the Brompton).

    So... three bikes. Like you. :)

    Having read this post, I totally sympathise with you on your fit issues! As you know, all Surly bikes tend to run a little on the long end of the scale as to reach. It seems your LHT and Ogre work for you because you're using bars and/or stems that shorten the reach much more than the stock set-up.

    On my blog, you asked about my Pacer, mentioning you're thinking of getting a steel road bike. I don't know how you'd work things out with a Pacer. I've achieved the shortest reach possible while still using drop bars (compact bars w/ 75mm reach; 60mm stem with 35degree rise; uncut steerer with maximum spacers). I don't know the Pacer's proportions in the larger frame sizes but suspect you'd need to take a similar approach. Even that may not be enough, given that owning light road bike is usually for the purpose of longer distance rides (with longer periods in the saddle), where comfort is even more crucial than it is on a commuter or even a tourer (where you tend to stop more often).

    Just my two pennies' worth but maybe something to be especially aware of if you're considering the Pacer.

    Cheers and Happy Pedalling!