So, here’s where we started:
And here’s about where we are now:
They’re both pretty shitty pictures and I’m sorry for that. The story of this bike, which I have sort of mentioned elsewhere, is that after I ovaled-out the headtube of dear 'ol Schwinny, I was on the hunt for a cheap — ideally free — bike to replace it with as my commuter/lock outside bike. I’d lock up the Straggler sometimes, sure, and I have all the security whosie-whatsits to make the wheels, seatpost, saddle, etc., harder to steal, but I don’t like having all that extra shit on there if I don’t need it, especially since I’m trying to do "Randoneurring" now. (Shit, I haven’t written about that either.) And now that I’ve moved my dynamo shit over to that bike it’ll make more sense come next winter to ride it to work (assuming they fix the bike room, whose roof caved in a little bit), but for this coming spring/summer/autumn, I figure I don’t need to worry as much about lights (and I can’t afford a second dynamo setup right now anyway) — but I’m getting ahead of myself.
So I needed a bike, and for free I had a few options: lucky me.
A local buddy of mine had just gotten back a bike he’d lent out some years back, and though it was in a little bit rough shape, the tubing itself was pretty nice. I kind of wanted to move away from threaded steerers though (so I could, in theory, swap parts between my other bikes — the Wednesday and the Straggler — more easily), and it would have been more work to make it into something I really wanted than I was willing to put in at the time given my limited budget.
Then there were the bikes my kid brother had "given" me, by which I mean bikes he ran out of space for and left at our parents' house. One was an old Cross Check he’d bought real cheap and then subsequently replaced with a newer Cross Check (long story, mostly involving Surly’s fairly bizarre sizing paradigms and shifts), and the other was a first-generation State Contender that he’d bought on Craigslist (I think) and had used as a delivery bike when he was running subs in CoMo (for non-midwesterners: "Columbia, Missouri"). I’d been wanting to try riding a fixed gear for a number of years (it was always a minor point of shame that I’d never done it when I worked at the bike shop), and as my local buddy pointed out: if I took the Cross Check, I’d basically have two of the same bike.
So when we went down to MO to stay with my folks for a month (because COVID and working remote), I took the State, as awful a color as it was. I built it up with some parts I knew I’d like (i.e., cheaper versions of what I had on the Straggler, i.e., Easton stuff because I had an Easton hockey stick when I was a kid and I like the continuity), put on a proper 165mm, 144 BCD crankset, and said that someday I would replace the wheels and the fork. The carbon fork, honestly, was fine. And since it was rim brake, I was able to run the dynamo wheel I’d had on the Schwinn through the winter. The problem was that it was a rim brake though, and I managed to put more wear on the rim than I wanted to, and I went through two sets of pads in one Boston winter, and so since I was going to replace the fork anyway… I figured I’d just go disc. Besides, after having my friend Jim build me a dynamo wheel for the Straggler, I had a spare disc front wheel to play with.
So come March, I have a spare wheel and my buddy Matt tells me that QBP is about to restock the QR Disc Trucker forks (which have the same approx. axle-to-crown as the original Contender fork, as well as the same rake), so I tell him to get me one of them.
In the meantime, I also decide that I want to learn how to build a wheel, so I build the rear wheel onto a hub I got on Velo-Orange sale (I should write about building that wheel sometime, too).
So then I frantically hobble all the parts together, rush-request the fork steerer get cut and so on (thanks again Jim; sorry it was such a pain), and ride it.
Sure, I get a flat tire or two. Hopefully that gets sorted. (EDIT: it got sorted. Seems like I always get a flat or two with new tires and then I stop getting flats until it’s time to replace the tires. I don’t know why this is.) Does not bode well for me buying the same kind of tires again though; I should have not been cheap and stuck to Panaracers. (EDIT: This is still true.)
Anyway, so it’s the bike now.
<s>To be honest I do notice the extra weight of the fork. It feels less lively, but once I’m up to speed it is a little more "comfy." I also think a part of the problem is the tires: they really are terrible and too heavy and thick.</s>
UPDATE: I thought the fork was making the bike ride shitty but it was the chainline all along! I fucked up and forgot the cog spacer thingy when I swapped the wheel at the Somerville Bike Kitchen and then put it on the following week and then hot damn does the bike feel great. Sure the tires still kind of suck, but the bike feels really good now. What I get for trying to run a ~2mm off chainline with a 1/8" chain… lesson learned (also there was a safety issue with that, but that’s unimportant, i.e., I still don’t skid the rear wheel).
(Anyway.) I’ll run the tires into the ground and get better/more supple tires and see if that doesn’t help (EDIT: it will). But the bike itself feels deeply bomb-proof and I like that I can now actually fit my lock through the wheel and frame and whatever I’m locking it to, which you couldn’t do with the stock "deep v" wheel that I put on after I sold the rim-brake dynamo wheel (to pay for the fork). Also, it’s been windy as fuck lately and having a less-deep rim helps with crosswinds.
I still fucking hate the color, but some of my friends seemed to like it and I can’t say it’s not visible. The question mark stickers — a recommendation from Matt at Jim’s shop — are also reflective (my idea) so that’s pretty nice so far as safety goes. I do have paint to repaint it, but I’m going to sit on that a while, I guess. I hate it less now that the fork looks less silly. I mean, it’s a good looking bike. I just hate the color.
tl;dr, it’s a bike and I’ll ride it. It’s nearly "done," too, which is cool. Almost all my bikes are now nearly "done," which is very exciting. The Straggler is pretty much "done" now that it’s got a dynamo; the Wednesday just needs to have the brakes replaced (and I have the brakes… I just haven’t bothered to put it in the stand and get it done yet); and now the "Riddler" is nearly done, too… I just need to get some less obviously mismatched headset spacers and maybe someday also make it less ugly. Also fenders. I really fuckin' need some fenders. And maybe an 18T cog instead of the 16T…
It feels good to have it nearly "done" though, because after this, I hope to only worry about buying consumables: tires, chains, brake pads (and only one kind now, since all my brakes are now mechanical TRPs!), etc.
Well, of course, all this is true only until the next shiny thing shows up. For now, though —