Friday, October 8, 2010

I went soft

As you may have read, I built a rigid single speed for the sswc10.
What I may not have mentioned was that I had been researching turning my Mojo SL in to a single speed. Well, a week or so after the rigid was built all the parts I needed had arrived and the Mojo was converted.
I had read about YESS tensioners and it didn't take me long to decide that if I wanted to turn my fully in to an ss I could do it properly. Then the MRP Lopes chain guide turned up. I didn't want to take any chances and I wanted a chain guide for after the SSWC when I turned the bike in to a 1x9.
I stripped the shifters, chain rings, grips and the cassette off and proceeded to put all the new bits on. Even for an average bike put-togetherer everything was simple to install and once I had decided on the chain length and adjusted the tensioner accordingly I was ready to go.
The first test ride was awesome. I rode the grand loop of Makara Peak, including Ridgeline. I wanted it bumpy. The ride up was a bit harder than I expected. Running a 32:16 probably was a good place to start, however, my fitness level soon told me a higher gear was in order. I certainly got around okay, but I want it to be a bit more fun.
I ran slightly less sag on the rear but that turned out to be unnecessary. The bike rode like a dream. Subsequent rides have been just as much fun.
This week the 17 and 18 tooth sprockets arrived and when I get some time I'll fit the 18 and give it a whirl. There's only 2 weeks to go until the event so I need to get out and have a few more test rides.
And will I keep the frame, forks and other bits off the hardtail? Hard to say just yet, I just can't imagine ever wanting to ride it. But I don't like selling bike stuff..... I only like buying it.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Is It Hard Going Rigid?

A few weeks ago I noticed that there were still entries available for the SSWC10. Karen and I had booked time off to go up and watch and I thought since I was going up I might as well ride.

So I spent a brief amount of time online and found a frame and wheels. I then purchased a single speed kit, "borrowed" Karen's cranks and brakes, borrowed Josh's bars, bought a seat post and forks and with a few bits and pieces lying around I had put a bike together.
At first, the tensioner didn't tension enough and the half link didn't hold and during the bike's first outing I found myself half way up Aratihi with no chain. I pushed to the top of Makara Peak and no chained it to Lazy Fern and down to the car park.
Now, I hadn't been having fun up to that stage anyway. I was used to very plush full suspension bikes. I hadn't ridden a rigid mountain bike for a number of years and somehow the memories I had of those early days on a non suspension bike all seemed to be of fun times.

What the hell went wrong? My memories had played a nasty trick on me and was laughing all the way to the car park. I moaned and bitched. I told people that that ride sucked. I treatened to sell said bike. And then I fixed it and rode it again.

What happened next is I hardened up. The ride wasn't great but it wasn't that bad either. There were times I wanted at least front suspension but it wasn't for long. I'm going to ride the bike again, soon. I want to get used to it, I want to tame it, I want to feel like I can smile when I ride it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Single girls get dirty

Ok, so they may not all be single, but my good friends and riding buddies Rachel, Marjolein, Ashley, and their friend Natasha did get down and dirty (well, muddy really) on their singlespeeds at the Wainui 6 hour race a couple of weekends ago. Of course, Ashley couldn't let them just ride around; there had to be a dress-up involved, and the results were pretty attention grabbing. Pity I wasn't there to see it first hand, but the pictures tell a story, as does Rachel, who penned the following. Enjoy. (Brett)

Brett once told me about a couple of blogs that I ought to check out. This was one of them. That was back when I first started to ride a bike with one option of gearing, and there has been no new posts here since! So I suggested to Brett that I could write some words.

These words are about last weekend when Marj, Ash, Natasha and I went to ride around at the Wainuiomata Winter Weekender 6hr Worldz. Our team was sufficiently niche enough; female and on SS's. (We would have been niche with gears). Our original plan was to find a generator and a TV so we could attach Ash's X Box and play 'Rockband' the game. Three of us would be ripping it up vocally, drum padding and windmilling the power chords. The rider would tag team one of the band out. Disorganisation got the better of that idea. So we did the next best thing by dressing up as roller derby girls.

There is a lot of crossover in outfits between cyclists and skaters, so we blended in seamlessly. Marj got us off to the greatest start imaginable, she hurtled in for a smooth transition and saw us waving goodbye and good luck to Ashley on her trusty 1 full inch of travel, V-braked beauty. Natasha, or 'Naughtasha' to those who get it (Marj), caught me in idle and in the need of a hunt through the tent for necessary equipment.

The course was beautiful. Just the right amount of ups and downs and gaps in-between. The amount of cleaning to be done was substantial, but a whole lot less than what would've been necessary with a fully geared and suspended bike.

Winter is definitely a time for singlespeeds to shine. Brett's even talking of getting his one back from a garage somewhere in Aussie and I spied Marj eyeing up potentials on TradeMe (but not in work time).


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ross gets Rad in SSWC

Scared Shiftless's old mate Rad Ross Schnell has taken the win and the ink at the SSWC in Durango.

Ross could be heading down here for a road trip next year for SPOKE mag, and now he may have to make a second journey to RotoVegas to defend his title.

That's right, the 2010 SSWC will be held right here, well there, in Rotorua.

Nice work Ross, nice work NZ!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Big Si's big wheel bling

Simon from On Yer Bike's Kapiti store has been stomping it up on his Stumpjumper 29er, which he ripped the gears off and added a dash of pain to his repertoire. It's a sweet looking bike, which should be even sweeter if he takes my advice and runs his XTR cranks on it too. Do it Simon, DO IT! Oh, and dude, shorten those cables!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mid-Winter Ride Report: To Makara and back

Nevermind how I came to be in possession of the singlespeed I'm riding at the moment. Let's just say that it's the inevitable outcome of both my mountain bikes lying dormant and unused in our workshop for too long while I've been pretending to be a road cyclist, combined with my well-documented predisposition to endlessly swap parts on, modify, and excessively faff around with my bikes (which happens a great deal less when they're actually being used). Anyway, just before selling out and spending a solid month road riding I got in a few rides on a rigid steel singlespeed that the magazine was reviewing and had a really great time on it; I guess that got the ball rolling. And now that it's complete and has seen some use (it being my Specialized Stumpjumper Carbon hardtail with a Reba fork) I'm remembering all of the things that I loved about the ride of my old (2006/7) Stumpjumper singlespeed (alloy frame, set up with a Reba as well).

Today was its second outing. The first took place last Sunday, when I found myself mixed up in a Bushlove group ride. That ride was great - apart from finishing it without being violated by Ricky Pincott, the weather was awesome and the bike handled great. I attribute a lot of that to the fact that Stumpjumper frames generally ride well anyway, but the 710mm wide Salsa ProMoto bar that I fitted is one of the best things I've come across lately, and now believe you'd have to be mental to want to use a singlespeed with anything narrower than that. The only thing that got changed for today was lowering the gear slightly from 32x16 to 32x17; the trails were steep and greasy in places, and staying on top of the 2:1 gear was pretty tough at times.

Karl Ratahi met me at my place just after 8 for an early start. I almost pulled the pin after having an exceptionally shit night that was almost devoid of sleep, but figured a spin with Ratas while the weather was still good would beat the hell out of moping around at home trying to encourage some extra sleep that more than likely wouldn't come anyway. Karl turned up on his Avanti KISS 29er, a fully rigid steel beast that he picked up a few weeks ago. I figured that since this is maybe the first ever ride report on this blog where everyone involved was singlespeeding (Brett will no doubt correct me if I'm wrong), I should embellish it with photos. Unfortunately my photograpy skills are mediocre and aren't assisted at all by the fact that the camera used was the fail low-res one that is in my cellphone, so don't go expecting wonders.

First up was a ride up the goldmine s-bends, which is normally a pretty tricky exercise in steep switchback technique, and pretty much a nightmare on a singlespeed. Here's Karl finishing off the incomplete assembly job on his bike at the fenceline section, proving that Brett is possibly the last person on earth that you should ask to build your bike:

Here's mine, propped up nearby on the fence:

And here's where we were about to head:

Although fortunately we would be riding up a second set of switchbacks rather than straight up the monstrous fenceline climb. These were much more manageable than the goldmine ones, and though steep and awkward in parts I cleaned most of it - the lowered gearing definitely helped. This is the view from the top:

From here we rode across the top of Wright's Hill and on to Deliverance. This was in surprisingly good shape, and we both cleaned it top to bottom with the exception of the awkward, rooty step-up partway down. Here's an awful photo of Ratas entering the chute on his big wheeled bike:

Me refilling my drink bottle at the Makara car park:

And looking on while Karl rides round and round in circles, no doubt still coming to terms with the unnatural handling of 29ers:

From here it was decided that we should slog up to the summit and take a look at Ridgeline. Here's a pointless shot of the entrance to missing link:

It's impossible to tell from the low-quality photo, but a lot of the trails were in pretty dry condition given how wet everything was on the weekend. Sections of upper Ridgeline were a bit marginal, but were nothing compared to the filthy mudpit that Salvation has become. Having enjoyed an awesome descent back to the carpark, Salvation took us back up to the Wright's Hill carpark, and although in better shape than it was on Sunday, it still left our bikes covered in this by the time we reached the top:

We figured that a ride over Hawkins Hill would be a good way finish our legs off, since Karl had a midday deadline to meet. We rode past the parade ground and along the fenceline, then jumped the fence at the clearing to come out on the Long Gully access road. Here's Ratas smashing it up to the road...

...only to be faced with more climbing on the seal:

We decided on the Tip Track to get back down to Happy Valley road. Here's a shot of where we would be heading:

Karl preparing himself for the descent:

He claimed at some point around this time to be enjoying the ride a great deal, although that expression seems to tell another story.

The Tip Track descent was fast and sketchy at the top. I forgot how off-camber most of those top corners are, and narrowly missed some dodgy crashes. The bottom half is way better, with some huge berms on the corners that let you carry heaps of speed through them. At the bottom gate we parted company; Karl had to get going, and we were both feeling pretty rooted at this point anyway. We timed the ride well; at that point, the wind was rising but my ride back up Happy Valley rode wasn't the grovel into the northerly that I was expecting. As I type this the gusts are getting worse and are meant to hit gale force around this evening; fortunately for me, all riding for the day is done and dusted... and I'm too trashed to mess around with my bikes. A beer sounds like a much better idea.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Should I or shouldn't I??

Last week, for some unknown reason, I was reminded of an ad I saw many months ago in a reputable mtb magazine for Vicious Cycles. It was the leopard skin singlespeed photo that really took my fancy. I knew nothing about who these guys were (or guy as it turned out) or what they were about. Anyway, I googled it and came up with their web site and then I googled "vicious cycles buy" and came up with this.........
on ebay. Hmmmmm I thought to myself. How bad to you want a fairly light, hand made, steel singlespeed? From America? When the exchange rate is crap? And you don't really have any money? And you kind of promised your wife "no more bikes until we buy a house with a garage"? Hmmmmm?
Immediately I thought "quite badly". So I signed up to ebay and watched the auction. With only three days to go until the end date I found myself getting nervously excited and spending an absurd amount of time staring at the screen ogling the photos like it was REAL porn not just bike porn.
Then the day arrived. By my figuring, we were 16 hours ahead. I was wrong. I think? In fact, I still can't work it out, but then I now start work at 6:30am so I am usually to tired to sort this kind of shit out. But I still managed to get up at 2am for the final 20 minutes of the auction and place a bid.
According to the description of the bike, a frame alone can go for $1800 U.S. and he was asking about half that for a whole bike. So there I was, my bid of $870 was the highest and it still hadn't reached reserve. What do I do?
I wait.
The auction ends.
I go to bed.
What the f**k? Now What? I had no idea what had just gone on. I wound myself up into a frenzy and then bailed on it at the last minute (just like me attempting to ride something I should be able to clean). Which one of the four very sensible reasons for not buying the bike had won out?
No money? That's always a good one. But that's never stopped me before.
The exchange rate? Naaaa. Who cares.
Freight from America? No, Ashley said she would bring it back with her when she goes over in a few weeks.
I promised I wouldn't? Maybe. Although I did say I would sell my road bike to cover the cost of the ss.
God knows. But I checked ebay today and the bike has been re listed.
It's gonna be a long week.