May 14, 2009

Patience, Karma, and Head Tubes

Over the last 4 weeks I've been putting out some major karmic waves of patience waiting for my first custom bike frame to arrive.  During this struggle I've had plenty of time to daydream about what this bike will look like, feel like, ride like, smell like.  


Now, while I'm taller than average rider (probably in the 99th percentile of the bell curve of height), I give up 4 inches to the NBA legend Bill Walton pictured above (lengthy side note--Bill Walton, the big redhead, is not only an avid cyclist but a lover of the grateful dead.  A member of the Hall of Fame, and now a well known broadcaster, I'm struck by how, in so many ways, he is the antithesis of the present  day tattood-on-parole NBA).  Some of you may have seen this photo floating aroung bike blogs last fall.  While I anticipate an unusually long head tube (most definitely in the 99th percentile of the head tube height bell curve), I don't think it will be as long as that pictured above.  Given my concern about head tube length, it is interesting that the bike I've ordered is a Seven, given recent lampooning of Seven frames by BSNYC for just this tendency.  Of course I don't really care what the bike looks like so long as it performs the way I'm hoping, but having spent my life with a conspicuity of height, it would be nice to have the bike "blend in" with the norm a little more.

So yes, for those at all interested in bicycles, it is a Seven.  A Seven Muse made with straight-gauge Ti tubing.  The idea behind this particular bike is to build something I can use for touring and commuting.  The Ti is lighter so it will be a little faster and "zippy" for long commutes, while still being strong enough to handle loaded touring.  

Going custom made sense because of my size (plus I felt it my duty as a citizen/comrade to stimulate the economy while I still can.  Yet another lengthy side note--I've been getting interesting email from various companies asking for me to buy stuff simply because they've fallen on hard economic times--Xtracycle being one of them.  One company went so far as to ask for a donation.  This is a troubling new trend in marketing).  While my inseam allows me to fit a stock rear triangle, my torso length has never fit any bicycle.  In fact, my current road bike top tube length is 62 cm (an XXL Specialized Allez with a 14 cm stem) compared to 67 cm on the new frame (with a 13 cm stem).  That's a pretty big difference.  It will hopefully relieve the low back pain and hand neuropathy I get after 40 miles.


So this is sort of what it will look like (at lease this is the picture Seven provides on their site, which is pretty thin on photos).  I opted for no paint (to save weight, haha).  I did want the option for disc brakes though I initially plan on running canti brakes.  I've really come to appreciate the power of the discs on my Stumpjumper and the Big Dummy, and figure they'd be great on a loaded tourer as well.  I spent about 4 hours with Steve down at Two Wheel Transit discussing all these things and, with his insistence, got Seven to put the braze ons for the rear disc on the chainstay rather than the seat stay in order to allow the rack to set lower.  

The fork was also a bit of an issue.  Initially Steve recommended a Waterford steel fork that would have the right trail and rake with adequate clearance for fenders and a variety of tire sizes.  Weight was a factor here and he eventually tracked down a Vicious carbon fork with similar dimensions but no braze ons for a front rack.  I picture using the carbon fork for day to day commuting and riding, swapping it out for the Waterford for loaded touring (which, unfortunately, probably won't occur as often as I'd like).

The other new thing for me will be 180 mm cranks--longer for my long legs (all my other bikes have 175 mm cranks).  Again, finding a triple with the right chainring sizes and 180 mm cranks was an issue.  Steve again came through with a solution, recommending using a Surly "Mr. Whirly" crankset, which is kind of the swedish modular furniture of cranksets (plus you can't buy direct from Surly, so if they hit hard times I probably won't see an email asking for a contribution).


I'll be interested to see how the longer length affects leverage and power as well as cadence.  I wonder how much difference 5 mm can really make.

So I was excited to receive an email from Seven earlier this week saying they anticipated delivery next week, as soon as the fork arrives.  I'm feeling a little giddy, fingers crossed hoping those karmic waves float back to me in the form of a perfect ride.

1 comment:

  1. My original crankset on my road bike was a 180. Given our relatively similar mechanical build, I'm betting you'll appreciate the additional leverage. Watch that saddle height, though. I initially put mine too high and messed with my knee.