The bike

I love my bike. I love everything about it, and this page is all about it. I mainly made this page for people interested in touring that happen upon my blog. If you’re not up for geeking out about bikes, then this should be a good read when you’re getting ready for bed. But if you’re a cyclist who gets how a bike could be an extension of the person who rides it, then read on and learn about me.

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This is what is going to be under me as I pedal my way across the continent. It started as a stock 2015 Novara Randonnee, but I’ve pretty much changed everything but the drivetrain. Let’s do the rundown, starting with the frame. 

It’s a size “L”, and I’m 5’10”. Fits me perfectly. Reynolds 520 tubes, incredibly comfortable geometry for all-day riding, and it soaks up bumps in the road wonderfully. I really couldn’t be happier with it. Part of the reason I wanted to go Randonnee over Surly’s ubiquitous Long Haul Trucker is that I kinda like sloping top tubes, which the Randonnee has and the LHT doesn’t. Plus the color works for me on practical and aesthetic levels – I don’t like flashy in general, and the green blends in with the trees when I’m camping. But I’ve made it my own:

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This was originally KMFDM frontman Sascha Konietzko’s autograph that I got him to put on after a show in Cincinnati in August 2015. I completely messed it up with clear coat trying to preserve it, so now I keep it as a meditation on imperfection (half joke). I got a sticker from that show on the seat tube too:

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I like to put stickers from concerts I ride to on my bike. Hence this one from Pearl Jam’s 4/26/2016 show in Lexington:

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There’s only one head badge that could grace this ride, and it’s right there under a mala I got when I saw the Dalai Lama speak in Indianapolis in 2009. It used to hang from my rearview mirror, but that’s part of a car I don’t have anymore:

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Oh yeah, I use a Cane Creek Forty headset. But the Grateful Dead bike references aren’t done there:

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I read an article about Bob Weir and mountain biking, and he talked about the bicycle being a servant of man. I had a friend who entered into my life in my early touring days leave the mark.

How do I ride the frame? On a Brooks B17 I got at Urbane Cyclist in Toronto for $75 Canadian in 2005. I broke it in the Sheldon Brown way way back when and it’s been perfect ever since.

On to the wheels:

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I built the wheels myself. I roll on DT Swiss TK540 rims, which I find to be bombproof and sturdy as the day is long. I laced those rims up with DT Swiss Competition spokes, 2.0mm butted down to 1.8mm. I removed the branding as much as I could from these things because I don’t like branding and I want the bike to look boring to those ne’er do wells when it’s locked up and I’m not around. I ride on Schwalbe Marathon tires, 700×35. I adore them. I never worry about flats and they roll smooth. In the back I have a Hope Mono RS  hub (I like cartridge bearing hubs and DT is moving away from rim brake hubs in favor of those damn disc brakes apparently). In the front, I have a Shutter Precision PV-8 dynamo hub, and it’s awfully red:

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There’s a long story why it’s not black like the rest of my components, and if you really, really want to know, you can email and ask me. Anyway… why did I go dynamo? so I can use my Sinewave Revolution to charge anything I please, as long as whatever I please charges with a USB cord:

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BAD. ASS. So how do I stop those wheels?

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With Paul Mini Motos. They’re the most recent addition to the bike, and even though the initial setup is annoying, they’re the best linear pull brakes I’ve ever used and adjusting them is a piece of cake as long as you have a 15mm box wrench. I’ll need that stopping power fully loaded. And how do I actuate those brakes?

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With Gevenalle GX brake levers/shifters (mounted to a Velo Orange Grand Cru Chris’s Rando Handlebar, with plenty of flare to match those deep bends in the drops). I can’t tell you how much I love these brifters. The Gevenalle crowd mounted bar-end shifters on brake levers, and it’s glorious. I set them up with friction shifting in the front and the back. No more indexed shifting. Friction shifting with a ten speed cassette is a dream. One clean sweep of the shifter through all the gears. And here are those gears:

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Shimano Deore crankset, 48t/36t/26t; 175mm crank length (when I wear through this one I’ll probably go down to 172.5), Shimano HG62 10spd cassette, 11-34. I’ve got every gear I need here. I almost never wish there were something lower or higher, loaded or otherwise.

Shimano Deore LX front derailleur, Shimano XT rear derailleur. I’m just fine with Shimano’s Deore line for touring. Anything fancier would kind of be wasted on me I think. In the future if I ever get a swankier frame I’d probably just stick with Deore for the drivetrain.

I also use Power Grips pedals. Absolutely love, love, LOVE them. I was a hardcore clipless pedal guy for years but opted for Power Grips when I started touring as I wanted something to keep me connected to the pedals but with the flexibility of wearing whatever non-cycling shoe I wanted. They keep me so secure I now doubt I’d ever want to switch back to clipless. The combo of Adidas Sambas and Power Grips beats Sidi cycling shoes and SPD any day.

Let’s talk accouterments. Here’s how I hold my water:

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I got these water bottle cages when I was 16 because Marco Pantani had them on his Bianchi. I also absolutely love this Arundel Looney Bin cage, which I use to hold my Nalgene (from Miguel’s Pizza in Red River Gorge… the best pizza anywhere, I don’t care what anyone says).

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I use an Abus Bordo lock, but this YWS frame lock is wonderful for me. the shackle drops through the rear wheel and locks there, rendering the bike immobile. It’s great for quick trips into a convenient store or something brief. When the bike is locked up longer, it works as additional theft deterrent. I first saw these on a ton of Dutch bikes when I was in Amsterdam and eventually found one for sale online and snatched it up. I wish these locks were easier to get Stateside:

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And lastly, I use Topeak’s RideCase on my iPhone and it slides right in here on the stem, and I have a cool headset spacer where I mount my bell.

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Want to read about what’s going to be hanging from this bike across the country? Go for it.