Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Experiments and a new bike for yours truly

I got a call from the folks at SRAM today asking if I wanted some free parts to try out a new BB/crank interface system they've come up with (I'll post lots more details about that at a later date when I have the stuff in hand, but suffice to say that I think it's argueably a near-ideal combination of the best attributes of many of the existing systems that are out there). This made me think a bit about my bike project for the new year (a new singlespeed to replace the one that I sold to my friend Chris) and how much experimenting I want to do.

Experimenting on myself is great because I get to see how the product works all the way from production (building the frame) to application in the real world (riding it). And since I'm a pretty huge snob, as well as theoretically not a slouch in the bike riding department, I can get a pretty good idea of how something works and whether it's worth using on frames for customers.

It's also fun to mess with new stuff and write about it on the blog, of course, and I don't want to be that grumpy (too late) bearded (still ok on that one) weirdo (crud, 2/3...) who will only build the same old thing over and over. Not everything new is good, there's lots of hype out there, but there are also legitimate cool new things that are worth doing. Bikes get better every year, and the cream does rise to the top. Hype can only take you so far.

The downside, of course, is that if I build something for myself that isn't to my liking, I'm stuck with it, and if it really sucks, I can't even sell the darn thing, at least not with a clear conscience (generally speaking, my philosophy is that if I wouldn't ride it, I have no business selling it to anyone). I don't enjoy doing hours of work to make unrideable yard art (yes, it has happened), and in the case of the new "Pressfit 30" BB system, there's also the chance that it won't catch on and I'll be stuck with an obsolete and unsupported bottom bracket, which is pretty much guaranteed to be lawn art once the bearings (or cranks) die.

But I think I'll probably do it. Here's the list of things I've considered for the new rig and how I'm leaning right now. Feel free to chime in on the comments if you think there's some crazy new tech I need to be trying out.

-Direct mount front derailleur: Meh, it's a singlespeed. Plus I'm already testing that on Sarah.
-Pressfit 30 BB: Leaning toward yes.
-Belt drive capability: I think the whole belt drive thing is pretty dumb for non-townie bikes, but it's easy to make the frame compatible with the new Paragon stuff, so maybe?
-Radically offset seat tube/super short chainstays: I'm torn on this. I've done a bunch of <430mm chainstay 29ers for smaller folks, but I really like my chainstays fairly long. Might do something in the 425 range with sliders so I can have some adjustability?
-953/stainless: Nah. I've had it with that crap.
-Tapered steerer: No. It'll probably be rigid it's whole life. I think the tapered steerers are a neat idea in general, though.
-15 or 20mm through axle. Once again, I'm torn. Probably pointless with a rigid fork for someone my size, but if I *were* to go to a suspension fork at some point, I know I'd want a through axle. Then again, I've got plenty of QR wheels, so I'd need a new wheel anyway.
-Stupid huge tire clearance. Leaning no. I have ridden the Dissent and Kodiak and they're both ridiculously dumb and slow (IMO) on a hardtail. I can't see myself running bigger than a 2.2 or so in the rear no matter what.

I'm tempted to make myself a near-carbon-copy of my previous bike, because I really liked it, but that would be kind of boring...


steve-o said...

whats the difference between pressfit 30 and bb30?

Walt said...

Hey Steve-O -

I'll post some details in mid-January. Nothing to say right now, I don't have the parts in hand yet. The big difference is that the pressfit30 won't require post-joinery machining of the BB shell.

Andrew Brautigam said...

are you going to run an XX crank with a single 39t ring?

I hear since you're pro and skinny you are going to run a 39 x 16.

Walt said...

Dude, I hear that 39x16 is for sissies. 39x11 is faster.

Feldy said...

Here's 2 "new" things to try:

1) Suspension
2) Gears

'sides that, what about that 29" rear, 26" front, full suspension, belt drive, Rohloff, 2x10, dual disk braked, suspension stem & seatpost, aero bike we talked about last time we rode?

Major silliness aside, I found it a bit funny that you started your post with saying you're getting some free parts, then pontificate on all the things you're *not* going to do, with the possible exception of the free parts you're getting. If you do a 20mm wheel, I'd say at least try out a maxle. It probably goes without saying that you'll use s-bends CS's this time; you should try to make something you don't instantly scrape the paint off of. I don't think you should mess with your geo too much.

But do a truss fork. Definitely do a truss forl.

the technIAn said...

Walt, I love the bikes you build as well as your insight. I am very interested to hear about the Pressfit BB30 setup. After Shimano came out with BB90, Trek with their own BB86 , and Specialized with BB91 all to be compatible with non-BB30 style external spindles, I'd be interested to hear about it's versatility. I just hope one of these standards catches on.

As far as geometry, I'm short at 5'7" and wouldn't ride a 29er with under 430mm chainstays. I think 430-445mm is that happy medium of shortish wheelbase (depending on front center setup), and nice tucked rear end. Anything shorter just feels too short.