welcome to my world of bicycle touring, touring bikes, and touring and camping gear...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tour journal relocation completed...

Well, I've now relocated both my tour journals and my articles. You can find links to them on the sidebar.

I'd have to say I'm delighted with the way the relocation has worked out - it was relatively painless and not particularly time-consuming. And the look and feel is far superior to the way they look previously. No doubt they'll evolve a little more but for the moment I'm very satisfied with them.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

New location for my tour journals...

In recent months I have become weary of the biased and tiresome rants posted by the moderator of the site where my tour journals have long been published. And I wanted them to have a more flexible organisation and a more contemporary presentation than the rigid, monochromatic, hobbyist look constrained by the original location.

But where else could I put them? It is difficult to find somewhere, some way to present them as a journal, chapter by chapter rather than in the strict chronological format used for blogs. I spent hours, days - searching through countless blog and web site templates looking for one with the right structure.

And after a lot of searching I found the answer was right under my nose - there is a Blogger help page that gives detailed guidance about how to format a blog and edit the template for presentation as a book.

So I have deleted my journals In Tasmania and Chasing the Long White Cloud from their former location, and I'm in the process of publishing them on Blogger. You will now find a Tour Journals section on the sidebar, which will eventually have links to all my journals. For now they remain a work in progress and don't yet have the final journal structure that I want, but stay tuned, they will be done soon.

I have also deleted my articles Approaches to Brisbane and Getting Started with Clipless Pedals, and published them in the Pages section on the sidebar. I hope you find them useful.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Van Nicholas Pioneer project...

The Pioneer has to live up to the very high standard set by my Sabbath Silk Route, the bike I rode yesterday and which I used last year in New Zealand. And judging by this morning's relative short (around 32km) ride it's certainly going to achieve that standard.

Despite my good intentions, I didn't actually get up until 6am and set out about 20 minutes later on the River Loop. It's a very popular Brisbane cycling route with a mix of flat and undulating terrain and a decent hill thrown in for good measure. The bike felt immediately comfortable, so my choice of frame size and stem length seem to have been good. I made a brief stop after about 20 minutes to raise the palm rests on the Ergon grips a little, but otherwise the riding position seems comfortable and natural.

Without a computer fitted I don't know how the road speed compared, but my impression is that it is slower than the Sabbath. That can probably be put down the rolling resistance the 26 x 2.0 inch Schwalbe Marathon Dureme tyres I have fitted. This afternoon I'm going to fit a set of Marathon Supremes - the tyre used on the Sabbath, lighter and far more suited to road riding than the Duremes.

It's probably going to take a few decent rides to get used to the slightly wider gear spacing of the Rohloff hub, and I need to master the technique for downshifting on hills. But it seems likely that the 39 x 16 gearing combination I've selected will allow 11th gear (1:1 ratio) to be frequently used on the flats. And descending Highgate Hill in 14th gear I didn't spin out, even thought my speed was probably around 50 kph. The one thing that surprised me about the hub is how noisy it is in the lower gears. I had been warned to expect this, but it's likely the titanium frame transmits and maybe amplifies the sound so it seems rather loud. Some users report that the hub becomes quieter with use, I hope they are right. 

Handling wise I had been expecting the steering to be slow with the long chain stays and wider bars, but it is actually quite agile and seems to turn just as hard as I can lay it over. But it's also very stable and shows no signs of any tendency to shimmy at high speed.

When I arrived at the Coffee Garage at Southbank, the only touring bike amongst maybe 100 or more road bikes, I was very surprised when a bunch of roadies showed a lot of interest and even asked if they could take photos. Wonders will never cease...

Overall I'd have to say I'm delighted with the result. The ride and handling live right up to my expectations. The fit is as good or better than any bike I've owned. It looks and feels fantastic. It's probably a little slower than the Sabbath, but that is to be expected since it is heavier and has wider tyres. I think we are going to be very happy together.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Van Nicholas Pioneer project...

Well - the bike is pretty much finished now except for the lights and wiring. Tomorrow will be its first real outing.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Van Nicholas Pioneer project...

Last night I installed the v-brakes, and this afternoon I got home early from the office Melbourne Cup function and ran the brake cables. So I just got back from my first ride, just a short one in the dark - about 5 kilometers. Except for a little brake squeal (the pads need some toe-in) everything performed flawlessly, and on first impressions the bike is going to be a real pleasure to ride. With luck I'll have the fenders, racks and lights installed by the weekend and get a good long ride in. But I think I'm going to exchange this hard new saddle for the almost broken in one on the Sabbath first.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Van Nicholas Pioneer project...

The Stronglight crankset is installed with the Bushnell eccentric bottom bracket housing and Shimano UN54 bottom bracket. With the chain and shift cables added it's now a rideable (but not yet stoppable) bike. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how easy it was to install and adjust the Bushnell EBB. Fitting the shifter revealed that Rohloff have changed to a new twist shifter with a round rather than triangular grip, and slightly different cable entry.

A couple of minor irrits were encountered along the way. The inner chainguard fouled the chainstay and had to be removed. I could have saved $10 and ordered the single chainguard version. And the chain - the singlespeed chain I ordered was too wide for the sprockets, so a quick trip to the lbs was required to get the right one.

 During the assembly I discovered that the Stronglight crankset is manufactured by Sugino, and it has XD2 forging marks on the back.

 During the assembly I discovered that the Stronglight crankset is manufactured by Sugino, and it has XD2 forging marks on the back.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Van Nicholas Pioneer project...

I didn't make much progress with the build last weekend - I'd forgotten to buy a crown race installer. But Wiggle came to the rescue and had one to me in 4 days. Interestingly, the bargain-priced work stand I ordered from Torpedo 7 the day before still hasn't arrived. It would have been handy this weekend. Torpedo 7 today sent an customer satisfaction email asking for my feedback about the purchasing experience, and whilst I'm not (yet) particularly put out by the non-arrival of the stand, I will be making the comparison with the service provided by a merchant on the other side of the world.

First task is to install the headset cups. Notice the reflections of the lovely view from my 16th floor balcony. That is Mt Coot-Tha you see in the background.

Then install the crown race, and using the cutting guide, cut the steerer to length.

Finally, assemble the steerer, add handlebars, wheels, seatpost and saddle, and suddenly it's a bike.

Titanium is chosen for its strength and light weight. The rationale is I'm here for a good time - not a long time. Another 10 years will see out my cycle touring career, and I want it to be as pleasant as possible. I've heard all the arguments, but have enough personal experience at bushwalking and high-altitude trekking to understand that I have no need or desire for an indestructible battle tank.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Van Nicholas Pioneer project...

Assembling a bicycle is quite easy really. There aren't that many parts - just the frame, wheels, handlebars seatpost and saddle. Then there are the brakes, stem, cranks...hmmmm, actually there are a lot of parts - all of these in fact.

Frameset: Van Nicholas Pioneer Rohloff Hand Brushed Titanium Large 55cm
Fork: Van Nicholas VNT TRX Alloy Expedition/Touring
Headset: Chris King NoThreadSet Devolution Silver
Saddle: Brooks B17 Special Honey
Handlebar: Van Nicholas 31.8mm OS 3AL/2.5V Titanium
Stem: Van Nicholas Titanium 100mm
Grips: Ergon GC3 Series Rohloff Large
Seat Post: Van Nicholas Titanium 300mm, 27.2mm zero setback
Chainset: Stronglight Impact Rohloff 170mm 39T (Double Guard)
Bottom Bracket: Bushnell Eccentric, Shimano UN54 68x118mm, Problem Solvers Left Aluminum Cup Silver
Chain: SRAM PC 7X Nickel Single Speed
Pedals: Shimano PD-M785 SPD Deore XT Trail
Gear Shift: Rohloff Twist Shifter and cables
Brake Levers: Avid Speed Dial SL Silver
Brakes: Avid Single Digit SL Silver
Brake Pads: Swissstop Blue for Ceramic & Carbide CSS Rims
Tyres: Schwalbe Marathon Dureme 26 x 2.0 Folding Black Reflective
Front Hub: Schmidt SON 28 Dynamo Hub Silver
Rear Hub: Rohloff Speedhub 500/14 CC OEM2 Silver
Rims: Rigida Andra 30 26" MTB CSS Black 32 Hole (with Rohloff Drilling for rear)
Spokes: 14/16g Sapim Race Stainless Steel Butted
Skewers: Hope Quick Release Stainless Steel MTB
Front Rack: Tubus Nova Lowrider Stainless Steel
Rear Rack: Tubus Cosmo Stainless Steel
Front Light: Supernova E3 Pro Terraflux
Rear Light: Supernova E3 Luggage Carrier Mount
Charging System: Biologic ReeCharge Power Pack
Fenders: Velo-Orange Stainless 60mm 26" ATB
Bottle Cages: Salsa Nickless, BBB Fuel Tank XL
Handlebar Bag Bracket: Rixen Kaul Klickfix, Rixen Kaul Extender
Sidestand: Pletscher Comp Zoom

Get them all together and they look like this.