Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Waiting for my Ebisu

The last time I talked to Iimura-san at Jitensha Studio was close a month ago. At that time he told me my ebisu should arrive in early March. Since then I have built up two 650b bikes--a Rawland Sogn for my friend and a Kogswell P/R for myself. Even though my impluse tells me to pick up the phone and get yet another update from Jitensha Studio with an outside chance that the frameset arrives early, I decided to resist the urge and just wait for another week. I believe I have all the parts ready, except for a set of fenders.

People who have been following the update of my parts list know what I have. I have now decided to go with the friction shifters at the downtube to reduce cable housings in the front. I intend to use the Grand Bois Hetres, even though Iimura-san does not recommend it for fender-line issue. I hope that the VO Zepelin fenders (52mm) will work out, even if the fender lines cannot be perfect. I have a few brevet events, a couple of hard centuries, and several challenging casual rides lined up, and I am really looking forward to building the Ebisu up and start riding it.

Hopefully the next time I ride about the Ebisu project will be about the process of building it up, instead of waiting for it.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Kogswell P/R first ride

I made sure I finish the build yesterday so I can go on a ride today with the P/R. This morning we got off to a pretty early start and were out of the door by 6:30AM. We ascend the Berkeley Hills via a route that goes on Oxford (and a few smaller side street) and Michigan and ends up near the top of Spruce. With 36T in the front and 32T as my lowest gear in the back, I was able to climb up the last stretch of Michigan Ave--20% grade--with the usual struggle. Once we were on Wildcat Canyon Road--a relatively flat rolling road--I tested to see if i can ride with no hand easily. Even with bumpy pavement, riding no-handed was pretty simple.

Descending on the other side of Wildcat Canyon was a treat, as the wide tires really do their part to grab on to the road at corners, although i noticed that the p/r doesn't go nearly as fast as my Romulus on descent.

Pump House grade is next, which is a long steady climb; M. disappeared out of sight fairly soon. I dropped down to the lowest gear and spun up; even though the bike is heavier than my romulus and has bigger tires, it edges me forward and seemed to require a little less effort. Happy Valley Road is a steeper climb, again, M. left me soon on the climb, and I felt that the P/R is an inferior climber to my Romulus on these steeper climb. The other side of Happy Valley is a long decline into Lafayette, which the P/R handled with ease and provide tons of fun.

The next section is a fairly long but very moderate climb on Moraga Road toward Moraga. The road has constant car traffic (though they weren't really that fast) and the shoulder is not too wide. The Kogswell can maintain a straight line very easily and with short crankarms i was able to get a rhythm spinning. On this section i felt Kogswell's light-gauge tubing really shined. M. usually leaves me behind on these long climbs, but today I was able to keep up, and even edged ahead slightly. The 155mm-crankarms actually work quite well despite my original concerns.

We took a bathroom break at the trail head of Lafayette-Moraga Trail and I snapped some photos. After eating some Gu, we headed toward Pinehurst, the final climb of the day. Pinehurst is one of our favorite for its beauty and also the nice combination of terrains. The first section is almost all under the canopy of a forest with a quaint school and a post office on the side of the road and a very gradual incline. The last section is a 1.5-mile climb that gets steep after a hairpin turn. I was a little tired at the last steep pitch and dropped down to the lowest gear and spun. The Kogswell did well, despite its heavy and wide tires.

Overall, I really enjoyed ride. I had to adjust the handlebar height/tilt and saddle position because my hands went numb a few times during the ride, which rarely happened even when I was using the sparrow bar on the il pompino. When I came back, I cleaned the bike from the slight drizzle and thick fog on the road, and adjusted the brakes to take out some of the mushiness in them. I also installed fenders so they are a little more weather proof. I have to figure out how to attach the Ostrich handlebar bag onto the Nitto M-12 rack securely still. Next on the list of things to do is to change out the 36T ring for a 34T, and maybe get a pair of nicer pedals than the old SR road quills I had on it (one pedal is missing dust cap, though they were spinning pretty smoothly still). I will wait till Kogswell production porteur rack to come out before deciding on porteur rack options.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Kogswell P/R (Build List, Pictures Later)

I received the frame this week, but sent it to my local bike shop Missing Link to correct a minor offset at the dropout, install headset, and cut steering tube. I have received all the parts via mail this past week (some parts have been sitting in my parts bin).

I spent 4 hours this afternoon/evening building it up. Using downtube friction shifters really simplify the build process significantly--I don't have to cut derailleur cable housings for connecting the shifters to the downtube cable bosses, and I don't have to play with the barrel adjuster on the rear derailleur to get the indexing right.

I started out by tightening the headset cap to reach proper load on the headset and adjust the stem to straighten it with respect to the frame. I then set the saddle to the correct saddle height. I raise it slightly because the crankset I am using has 155mm arm length. I then installed the bottom bracket, crankset, rear derailleur, and front derailleur.

Shifters go on next, and then I did the cabling for shifting. As I commented earlier, this step took less than half the time it takes to set up other types of shifters. I then installed the brakes and wrapped the handlebar. At this point I was hungry and went out to eat dinner with M.

After dinner, I tied up some loose ends and installed the pedal. Now it's ready to ride. I rode around the parking lot and it felt really good. Tomorrow morning we are going out for a 40-mile ride. I will report how the ride goes on the P/R and take some pictures. here is the build list:

- Kogswell 2nd Gen P/R 59cm 650b frameset (including no-name headset, seat clamp, bottom bracket cable guide and head badge)
- Suntour ratchet friction downtube shifters
- Shimano XTR long cage rear derailleur (I bought it on Craigslist and it didn't come with barrel adjuster for indexing, but I don't need it anyway)
- Shimano 105 triple front derailleur; 31.8 clamp diameter with shim for 28.6mm seat tube
- Shimano UN-54 68x107mm bottom bracket; square tapered
- FSA RPM black crankset; 155mm crank arms, 110 BCD, Sugino chainring 46/36T
- SRAM PC870 8-speed chain
- Nitto Moustache bar
- Ritchey stem 110mm; 6 degree rise
- Tektro R200 brake levers
- Tektro Oryx cantilever brakes
- Shimano 600 fluted seatpost
- Selle San Marco Rolls Saddle
- Shimano LX hubs laced to Velocity Synergy Rims 650b; front has 100mm OLD, the rear has 135mm OLD
- Panaracer fatty rumptin 650x40b
- Nitto M-12 rack
- SKS P45 fenders

Pictures forthcoming

Thursday, February 5, 2009

State of My Bikes

I have been busy with bikes recently. My friend Wayne moved back to California and I gave him a Rawland cSogn as his belated wedding gift and helped him build it up. I also decided to jump on a deal for a new Kogswell P/R. The frame is going through some pre-build inspection and alignment in the local bike shop. I spoke with Hiroshi Iimura of Jitensha studio and he said I should expect my Ebisu by early March. To make room for the Kogswell, I sold my on-one il pompino fixed gear bike. As I am writing this post right now, I have one bike that I can ride that's mine (I can ride my fiancee's Trek 620 touring bike, but she commutes with it).

The lack of a daily bike (of course, i could use my romulus as my daily bike, but I really don't want to yet) has caused me to change my daily routines. I have to use a slightly different combination of public transit to get to work and I walk more to and from places I need to go around my house for errands. Hopefully I can get the Kogswell built up this weekend and be back to riding my bike everyday.

I am happy that my Ebisu will be here on time, it seems. I have pretty much every part, now I just need to get a front cable hanger for the cantilever brakes and some cables & housings. Iimura-san built my wheels and they are now sitting in my parts pile waiting to go on the ebisu. I am trying to decide whether to use a Nitto Dynamic stem or a Shimano Ultegra seatpost for the build. The ultegra is lighter, but nitto might fit the whole build better. After I build it up, I will play around with the Hetre tires and find fenders that will accommodate them. At the moment I am thinking VO 52mm Zeplin fenders.

I put together the parts collection for the Kogswell pretty hastily. It has a mix of new and old parts. I am debating whether to use a moustache bar or a regular drop bar for the build and am currently leaning toward the m-bar.

After the Kogswell and Ebisu are built up, I am likely to not change bikes for a while, which means I will have 2 650b bikes and 1 700c bike. The balance of all the bikes that my fiance and I have is 3 650b and 3 700c.

We are still riding, and riding some pretty steep hills, but our mileage isn't that high. I am itching to do a long ride soon.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wayne's Rawland Sogn and ride impression

I (with help of Wayne) pretty much finished the build this past weekend (here is the parts list), and I tweaked a little more during the week before handing it back to Wayne later this week. The build was pretty standard, except for the STI shifters/front derailleur/crankset combination. Wayne preferred STI, so I tried to make it work. It requires Shimano road derailleurs. I wasn't sure whether they will work with the old Shimano crankset (FC-B124) we have. After playing around with it, I was able to make it work, although not in the same click-pattern as how STI generally works--normally, a triple front shifter has 5 positions: one for each chainring and two intermediate positions. Normally, from the small chainring, the first click brings one to an intermediate position for trimming, and the second click brings one up to the middle chainring. However, on this crankset with Sora triple front derailleur, the chain won't go on the middle chain ring until the 3rd click, although from there one can down shift one click and remain on the middle chainring. One uses the remaining one click to shift up to the big ring--it works, but a little bit differently. I am convinced that if we have ramped-and-pinned chainrings, this irregularity will go away.

M. and I went out for a short ride up the Berkeley Hills this morning before work. I adjusted the seat height on the Rawland and took it out to see if everything works ok on the bike on a more strenuous ride. Here are my impressions of the bike and the ride

The Rawland is a very capable climber, I rode a route that we do regularly and find it comparable to my personal bike, which is a great climber. We rode up a hill that has 20% grade (which is really steep) and the Rawland performed just fine. On winding descend, the bike performs wonderfully, as the wider (than usual road tires) tires do their job, grabbing the road well. On the flat, I wanted to see how the bike accelerates. True to its cyclocross design, the Rawland accelerates pretty well, and does an adequate job of keeping speed. The bike also has a very stable front end; I can ride no-handed even on relatively rough pavement. Overall, i can see why it has received such good reviews.

If the bike were mine, I would have used bar-end, paul thumbies, kelly take-offs, or down tube shifters and use at least 42mm tires (is anyone using Hetre with his/her Rawland). But this is my friend's bike and his first serious bike nonetheless. He took it out on a short spin over the weekend and enjoyed it. Hopefully we can go on a longer ride soon.

You can find more pictures of the bike here.