Poor Man’s Touring Bike

It seems as if every few months the Sloth and I decide to exchange our discarded parts bins.  We ooh and ahh and come away feeling guilty because we somehow took advantage of each other’s kindness.  This time, I’m pretty sure I got the better end of the deal, because the Trucker is now sporting a perfectly fine pair of Blackburn lowriders.  I know that he’ll see this and grouse that they were just taking up space in his basement, but the truth is that the bike side of my S240 equation is now complete.  At some point, we’re going to have to shame Scott into posting updates of his LHT, which is sporting some nice looking kit these days like a pair of anodized VO fenders.

LHT Fall 09 002

In addition to the lowriders, I mounted a $9.99 venerable Nashbar front rack.  I know that Nashbar is a dirty word for many, but every so often they fill a need at prices you just can’t walk away from.  I needed some tools, was also looking at front loader racks, and the decision made itself.

LHT Fall 09 003

As for first impressions, I think the NB rack serves it’s purpose.  It will hold a bag or allow for strapping down a stuff sack while not interfering with whatever panniers I have mounted on the forks.  As you can see, the Cyo is mounted up front and the wiring routed with zip ties and electrical tape.  It looks kind of vulnerable up there compared to how it was mounted back on the fender, but the choices are limited; and this appears to be how most do it.

I’m not crazy about having a rack mount on the brake bosses.  I’d much rather have braces going down to the fork mounts, but it seems the choices are limited to Nitto, which is out of my range; or an Axiom front rack, which looks like it is currently out of production.

LHT Fall 09 005

I took a ride around the neighborhood with the grocery panniers loaded up and I really liked the feel of the ride.  With the weight down low the bike felt very stable, and I didn’t sense any adverse effect on the steering.  Obviously some more test rides are in order, but I’m cautiously optimistic that my front loaded approach is going to work.  There is a slight rattle/creaking with the Nashbar that I haven’t been able to isolate.  I’ll keep playing around, but it may come down to it being just a cheap aluminum rack.  If anything, it will work fine for now and confirm my inclination towards a Jandd Extreme front rack in the future.

Within an hour of taking these pictures, they were outdated.  One of the tools I picked up was a $7.00 Octalink-compatible crank extractor.  This is the first time I pulled a crank, so it was a little unnerving when I reached the point where the wrench got real tight and it was either “it needs a little more muscle” or “I’m going to strip something that will put my bike out of commission and cost a lot of money to fix.”  Fortunately, the little bit of muscle eased the crank off the spline and it slid out perfectly.

LHT Fall 09 007

All of this was so I could lower the gearing up front.  Pedal Pushers had a 22 tooth granny that I changed out with the 26t, and I swapped the 48t outer ring with the 44t ring off of the X bike.  I think the 22 is a bit of overkill.  At 22/34, I was able to spin out at a whopping 4 mph.  I’d have to be hauling quite a bit up a blistering grade to grind that much, but I suppose a little insurance is not a bad thing.  Perhaps a 24t would have been a better choice.

LHT Fall 09 009

The jumpstop makes throwing down into the granny a non-issue, but I did notice that upshifting from 22 to 36 is a little more finnicky.  It might just be a matter of practice.  The 44 looks really small, but I somehow doubt that I’ll ever spin out at 44/11.  Again, some test rides will help.

So now I need to stop writing about bikes and stop wrenching about bikes; and start actually riding bikes.  Fall baseball will be over in a week, our church construction project is almost complete, and if we ever see a weekend without rain again, I might just get out on the road.

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