A "utility" bike

Chris's blog entry about his ideal winter bike struck a chord, as I was thinking along somewhat similar lines myself while out riding yesterday. There are things I can't or won't do with Son of Plastic Fantastic. I won't tow my trailer, or take it to the shops. I can't fit fenders (or mud guards, as I used to call them back in the Old Country), or big tires. I won't ride it in actual falling rain (although we don't get that much round here), and I'm loth to ford running water.

I already have a titanium cyclocross frame, which is built up with a Dura Ace triple group. The frame has eyelets that would allow fenders to be fitted, and sufficient clearance for big tires. Unfortunately, the frame has a 135 mm rear spacing (mountain bike standard), but the gits who sold it to me supplied a 130 mm rear wheel (modern road bike standard). I recently bought what will be the third fork to be fitted to this frame, it's a Nashbar (in other words, anonymous Chinese manufacturer's) Cyclocross fork with disk tab. If I were to get a new pair of wheels built, using mountain bike hubs, I could get an Avid mechanical disk brake with the road-specific cable pull, put a disk on the front wheel, and leave the cantilever brakes on the back (since the frame doesn't have a disk tab). Then I'd have wheels which fit with nice big tires, a disk brake for those winter floods, and a bike which would still be light enough to not be a chore to get up hills.

I'd also like to fit lights, because one of these days I'm going to do a double-century, even if it takes me 17 hours. Since riding after dark is not a regular thing for me, I'd stick with a battery-powered system, rather than a generator. Oh, and I'll take a Fizik Aliante for the saddle.

I'd really like to get this going, since there are a number of jeep trails I'd like to explore, and I find them a bit sketchy with my 700x23c tires. One thing we have lots of here is sand, and wider tires roll over loose surfaces better.

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Comments:

Terry, A cycling question, What are your thoughts about a 'metro' bike with 2-3" of variable suspension, employing fulcrum 'pucks', to maintain pedaling efficiency? Chris questioned a 'metro' bike as too expensive. Your commentary would be appreciated!

Posted by William R. Walling on July 09, 2005 at 04:52 AM PDT #

Personally I don't see the value of suspension for a bike which is going to be used on the road. One year, I did the California AIDS ride on my mountain bike, because my road bike was in the shop, and I spent about 5 minutes thinking "wow, suspension soaked up that viabration nicely", and about 50 hours wishing I had a lighter bike, or more than one hand position to choose from, or a less upright position. Of course, your mileage may vary.

Posted by Terry Heatlie on July 11, 2005 at 02:30 AM PDT #

Terry, After observing a fellow cyclist 'fracture' his front wheel on these quality roads a truly l-i-g-h-t-w-e-i-g-h-t, variable (dialed in or out) suspension may be desirable. I use multiple 'handlebar' (1.5"R AL + 4" ends) heights which are fine for daily rides.

Posted by William R. Walling on July 11, 2005 at 03:51 AM PDT #

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