Friday, July 15, 2011

Custom Wheel Build, Sean's Chris King 29er Wheels.

We built these wheels up for Sean Friday.  He came to us looking for a high end, bullet proof mountain bike wheelset.  Sean is a bigger guy who rides fairly aggressively through technical bike trails across the Midwest.  He chose to go with Chris King disc hubs for their reliability, aesthetics, ruggedness, and resale value.

DT's super tough Alpine spokes were our choice for these.  These have a thicker section at the spoke head for durability, but are butted in the center to keep weight down.  They fit very snug in the spoke holes, and build noticeably stiffer wheels than conventional butted spokes.  These are the same type of spoke as Sapim's Force spokes, which I've also used with excellent results.  DT's Prolock brass nipples add another component of durability and serviceability to these wheels.

We shod these wheels with Schwalbe's new Knobby Nic tubeless 29er tires in the 2.35" size.  As with all high end Schwalbe tires the construction on these is top notch.  They are fairly expensive, but the ride reports are very good, and they are a pleasure to set up tubeless. They should be a nice tire for ripping trails such as the Camba systemin northern WI, Cuyuna up north in Crosby MN, and Lebanon Hills locally.

Sean chose to go with a bolt on rear hub using King's Fun Bolts to keep the rear end in line.  While necessitating the carrying of a 8mm wrench for flat changes, they do work very well to provide solid mounting.  No QR also means a bit more aesthetically pleasing rear end as far as I am concerned.

A big King 20mm front will keep the fork tracking very well.  The bearings are also much larger in this hub than a standard King, which will benefit bearing life considerably. This hub is also available in a 15mm thru axle version for Fox compatibility.

The Knobby Nic's are indeed knobby.  The aggressive knobs really look the part, and the sticky rubber feels great under thumb.  I'm excited to hear Sean's ride report on them, but they really look quite good.

These wheels really set the gold standard for tubeless mountain wheels today.  It's hard to find nicer hubs in terms of performance and longevity, and Stan's No Tubes rims are the current standard to which others are judged.  They should provide years of carefree service for Sean, all while looking to die for.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ben's 29er wheels. Affordable go fast upgrade.

People who have spent any time reading this blog know that I'm all about wheels.  A wheel upgrade will make  more of a noticeable difference than any other part on your bike.   Ben bought an entry level 29er from us last fall and was looking to get into some nicer wheels to perk things up.  He rides standard trails at moderate paces.  He was looking for smoother rolling hubs, wider rims for increased tire volume, and in general strength and stiffness upgrades.  Sram's excellent X9 disc hubs laced to Stan's Flow tubeless rims with DT butted spokes fulfilled all of these requests.

Ben's bike uses mechanical disc brakes.  In addition to the wheels, we added a set of Ashima brake rotors to perk up the brake performance.  These rotors sell for under $20, and vastly improve braking with Shimano, Hayes, and Avid mechanical brakes.  They are available and in stock now in White, Red, Black or stainless.  The red looks really good on these wheels, and will look great on Ben's red Fisher.

This is a really great looking set up.  It will be spin up faster, roll easier, and work better than his current set up.  Aesthetically they will really set the bike apart, and functionally they will be a huge improvement.  

This set up as pictured costs right around $400 and offers a great performance value for the dollar.  I know Ben will be quite happy with these.

Happy Friday all.  Have a good one.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fatter Fat Bikes.

By now you're probably hear about this from the Surly Blog or other places.  They are going to introduce a new fat bike this year, as well as a larger 4.5" Larry tire and wider 100mm Clown Shoe rims ala the Rolling Darryl.

From The Surly Blog.

"...Moonlander is designed to work with our new Clown Shoe rims (100mm singlewall!), Big Fat Larry tires (4.5” Larry tread!), and Mr. Whirly Offset Double crank (a whole other story!). The very wide rims and very large tires, as you might expect, make for amazing traction, floatation, and minimal ground impact. The frame’s 28mm offset and the Whirly Offset Double crank allow room for such big rubber without chain rub. You’ll also be pleased to know that the fork (symmetrical blades, no offset) operates using a 135mm hub but unlike the Pug fork will use a front disc caliper adapter. The rear dropouts are the same as the Pug.  And –stay calm-- we’ll have rims strips to fit these rims in a candy cane of colors, including good ol' black...."

This is well come news for all of us fat bikers.  Whether or not you are in the market for these wider tires/rims, or even a newer, fatter Surly, this means more choice.  More choice means more acceptance, acceptance means more innovation, innovations means more products, more price points, and likely more people on fat bikes.  

For those of us who have been around long enough to see the development, standardization, and acceptance of 29ers by the general riding public, this all sounds familiar.  

I will be following this story and these products as closely as I can, and I'll update here with any additional information I can.  With a Pugsley in stock, 6 Mukluks in various configurations on the way, and of course Moonlanders when they are available, this is going to be a hell of a year for fat bikes here at Milltown.

I can't wait. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Custom Bicycle Build: Mark's Pofahl Single Speed Road Bike

We finished up Mark's gorgeous single speed road bike last Saturday.  We fit Mark for the bike here and designed the geometry to suit his needs.  Mike Pofahl followed through with gorgeous construction and appropriate tubing choices.


This bike started with the idea of a classically designed steel single speed road bike.  It would have traditional performance road geometry, clearance for 28c road tires, and it was to be painted school bus yellow to match my 1988 vintage Pofahl drop bar mountain bike. After fitting Mark to his current road bike, we used that as a basis for this built.  All designed and plugged in to Bike CAD, here's what we ended up with.

The bike features a slightly sloping top tube, fairly short chain stays, and a slightly lower bottom bracket to match the larger 28c tires.  All in all it's a pretty standard road bike with a few retro twists.  The frame, fork, and custom stem were all going to be fillet brazed. 

Here's the finished product.  The stem is flipped to the positive on the real bike, but the rest is just as pictured above.  The fit and finish are spot on, as is the original design.  To quote Mark when he came back from a 20 minute test ride, "It's perfect."  Hard to sum it up better than that.

Build Kit

The parts used for this build are a mix of new and used parts.  The foundation of the build lies in the White Industry hubs and freewheel.  Especially on a single speed, these are critical components.  We laced White Eno single speed hubs to Hed Belgium rims with standard butted spokes and brass nipples.  Along with their classic look, these wheels should provide years of untouched good service.

The rear drop outs are from Paul Components.  These feature built in, finger operated chain tensioners.  They are classically designed, and functionally perfect.  I love the length of adjustment these provide as well as the ease of chain tensioning.  They are a perfect choice for this build.

Up front the bike wears a Pofahl stem to match the gorgeous fillet brazed, unicrown fork.  The headset is a subtle Cane Creek 100 in black.  It's one of my favorites, the no logo look matches well with the clean classic build.  Really clean fillets and head tube enforcing lugs round out the front end of the bike. The fork is cut long for fine tuning of fit.  It will be cut a second time once Mark arrives at a happy spot.

On of the key components of this bike is the tire selection.  These are Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tires in 28c.  These are impressive tires to say the least.  They are among the highest performance road tires made, and are really, really light.  Mounted on Hed rims these measure out to be an actual 31mm at 90psi!  It's hard to fully describe how big these are.  I love them.  They are enough to make a guy consider new road bike possibilities for sure.  As light as they are, and as high quality as they are, imagine what these would ride like on a pair of Hed Ardennes or a similar really light set up!

The tires really fill up the fork and brake nicely.  More than a little gunsmithing was required to modify these brakes to clear the tires.  A set of vintage single pivot Campagnolo or Suntour brakes with non aero levers would look superb on this set up while providing perfect clearance for the tires. The adjusting barrel on the brake is tightened all the way up to prevent the bike from rolling for these pictures.

The hourglass seat stays are one of the finer points of Mike's construction of this bike.  They just flow to the drop outs.  Super clean, the thin tubing further accentuates the considerable girth of the big Schwalbes.  

I love the profile of this bike.  It's one of those that definitely just look right.  It is poised and composed as a modern bike, but elegantly constructed with classic looking parts.  I think we really achieved exactly what we set out to with this build.

We wish Mark many happy miles on his new bike.  It was a pleasure to work on this from start to finish.  I couldn't be happier with the result.