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

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Faux-Randonnuer: final set-up?

Ther first rule of set-ups is: there is no 'final set-up'. Now that I have all summer in too much heat to run, I need to put the miles on this machine it deserves.

There are three older posts which trace the development of my road bike, a 2006 Lemond Croix de Fer Triple, into a working randonneuring/credit-card-touring machine.  It's not the ideal machine for either, but I've worked within its limitations, because I don't have the coin to replace it, and when I leave Japan I can keep it at the in-laws so I have it here to ride on visits.  These are the three posts I draw from: 'Road Bike: Randonneuring Bike', 'Choosing a road, randonneur or touring bike', 'Club-Racer to Randonneur/Credit-Card-Touring Hack'.  What follows is the final version.

The principle behind this set-up is to take the bike that I have, which is a great light road 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.

The carbon fork has caused me no end of headache, but in the end I came up with many solutions:
- no racks, but a better/lower way to hold a handlebar bag (explained below)
- strap-on fenders
- put the O-ring mounted Gemini Olympia right on the fork, sideways.  With a bit of a bump built up with electrical tape it doesn't slide down past it.

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, and bought at half-price)
- the smallest chainring is still 30 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 has been altered to 12-28 (12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 22, 25, 28) for a deep low end, without sacrificing the middle or top
- Shimano PD A600 pedals: high end road pedals with mountain cleats, because you walk like an @$$hat-roadie in road cleats
- 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 (both ends of the fender, also to quieten them against the frame).  I'd run full fenders if I had the clearance...
- a pair of Klean Kanteen water bottles, because plastic tastes like cancer (never use plastic cages: they break in the cold)
- Arundel Stainless Cages in the usual spot, which besides looking sweet, are also silent on stainless bottles - which took some finding!  I have a basic Planet Bike Button Cage cage hose-clamped under the down tube as low as I can, and offset to the non-drive side, so it does not interfere with the derailleur, or front fender.  It can take a short bottle, but usually holds my tool kit.
- the toolkit I detail: here 
- I have an old version of a Topeak Road Morph pump: no point having a pump that won't take your tires to the pressure you ride'em.  It has a q/r clip, but is also taped to the top tube (I hate rattle!)
- a Revelate Designs 'Viscacha' Saddle Bag.  It's the shit!
- an MEC handlebar bag, attached to a Thorn Accessory Bar rather than the handlebar, to keep it lower and more to the centre of the steering axis.  Ghetto, but works.
- a Montbell top tube bag
- a Garmin Oregon 450 GPS, chosen because it takes AA batteries, which I can replace easily (an iPhone mount might have been a better choice, as I carry my cell anyway...)
- a bell on the accessory bar, to wake-up doddering Japanese pedestrians in the wrong place

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.
- Superflash Turbo, rear bright enough for daytime use
- and the back-up is a regular 'Superflash'
- 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 like that the lamp shines right where I am looking, such as into a driver's face to get his witless attention.
- Just bought the Gemini Olympia system, 6-cell.  Bright!  "3 x CREE XM-L U2 LED emitters", 1700 lumens-bright.  I got it in an introductory sale for $200, which is a steal.  Remember halogen?  A fraction of the light for a multiple of that cost, and weight.

A lot of these items can and will be switched from bike to bike, or to other sports.  I do not believe in the perfect randonneuring machine, as Bicycle Quarterly would have you do, because roads differ as does weather.  However, this bike stays in Japan.  The bike that will replace it will be like one of these, unless I decide I am not doing long-distance road cycling in Canada, because the drivers cannot be trusted.

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