*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Club-Racer to Randonneur/Credit-Card-Touring Hack

The principle behind this set-up is to take the bike that I have, which is a great light steel-framed 2006 Lemond Croix de Fer Triple, and make it useful for the long distance rides that I plan to be doing in Japan.  It has been hard to get a link to the original specifications, because Trek blacklisted Greg LeMond for pointing out the obvious about Trek's advertisement-whore, Armstrong: nobody wins honestly in that field of dopers.  Here is the best link that I could find.

To make it the bike that I can best use here, I took to heart what Bicycle Quarterly wrote about the rides that completed Paris-Brest-Paris, and altered my ride accordingly: add as little weight as possible, get some fenders on, keep luggage as low and centred as possible for the sake of handling, and reduce rotating mass (rims, tires and tubes) but run puncture-resistant tires.

Here is the what and the why of the alterations that I have made, with caveats:
- shellacked bar-tape, because it is gorgeous and indestructible (only leather and palms do not slip, though)
- a titanium Brooks Swallow saddle (extravagant but wonderful)
- the smallest chainring is now 26 teeth, for long climbs
- the largest chainring is now 48 teeth, because I do not juice enough to use 52
- the new middle ring is still 42, and in use 90% of the time
- the cassette is 11-25, but I am going to switch it to 12-27 for more low gear use, without sacrificing any of the middle, and little of the top end
- Shimano PD A600 pedals: high end road pedals with mountain cleats, because you walk like an @$$hat-roadie in road cleats
- Sheldon Fender Nuts, because I once used them to attach racks (but may replace them because I now do not)
- Maxxis Detonator 700x28 tires, which are really 25mm

The removable bits are as follows:
- Planet Bike SpeedEZ road fenders (a third one behind the seat tube!) with road mudflaps attached by me (to lengthen them, and quieten them against the frame), and another flap off the fork brake bolt (it folds out of the way when packed in a 輪行袋).  I'd run full fenders if I had the clearance...
- an MEC frame bag (no longer sold), which holds a great Topeak Morph high-pressure pump and sundries, which I wanted to replace with a Jandd triangle frame bag to allow me room for my second bottle on the down tube.  I discovered all I had to do was slide the MEC bag back...
- a toolkit in the bottom cage, or one of the bags, the contents of which I detail here
- a pair of Klean Kanteen water bottles, because plastic tastes like cancer (never use plastic cages: they break in the cold)
- an MEC handlebar bag, minus all of the hardware and stiffeners (it sits against the frame better, and is lighter, without them)
- a Montbell top tube bag
- an MEC waterproof stuff-sack/summit-bag (no longer sold) on the rear
- a Viva Saddle Bag Support, which is one third the weight of any other rear rack (and half the price in Japan)
- a Garmin Oregon 450 GPS, chosen because it takes AA batteries, which I can replace easily (an iPhone might have been a better choice, as I carry my cell anyway)
- I want to add a pair of Mountain Feed Bags

My lighting is not randonneuring-standard, but a mix of what is practical, affordable and what I owned from hiking:
- I usually use rechargeables, but can use standard batteries on tour, or lithium for long or cold weather rides.
- Planet Bike Superflash taillight (to be upgraded to the blinding Superflash Turbo, bright enough for daytime use)
- Planet Bike Sport Spot headlight (because I can also use it as a headlamp: both Pl-B lights run AAA)
- I have a rebuilt Petzl Duo helmet lamp that puts out 350 lumens off four AA!  The battery pack can be kept warm inside a jacket or jersey.  I do not buy the argument of putting the brightest front light on the bike, because I think that angle casts too much shadow, making a road look worse than it is; and I like that the lamp shines right where I am looking, such as into a driver's face to get his witless attention.

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