Saturday, February 21, 2015

New Bike Fever

2011 Trek Soho

Finding perfection for these ice addled trails and streets is not easy.  Always some sort of compromise.   Speed, cargo capacity, snow and ice performance.  Most importantly, the ability to haul my ass up to 30 miles a day Monday through Friday.  Also need the ability to pick up groceries.

Commuting year round in Iowa is tough on bicycles.  It rains and it snows.  Streets are laced with salt and sand in the winter.  Sand is the bane of all mechanical things and salt the bane of steel.   Chains, cassettes, cables and brake pads take the brunt of salt and sand.  Bearing surfaces fall victim to the deluge of water that creep in.

The Red Phoenix will live again!  2008 Trek FX 7.5  This bike has done multi-day tours, hauled tons of groceries, ridden through the worst of winter time and time again.  headset and BB have never crapped out.  Grocery run during the commute home.  9 lb pork loin, 15 lb of dog food, 2 lb of bacon and 3 bottles of wine.

Back in late 2007 I purchased a bike for commuting that worked quite well until the elements forced me to rebuild it year after year after year.  Brake pads.  I was always replacing brake pads.  Sometimes I could get two years out of it before replacing the destroyed components.  I replaced the rear derailuer once.  The front I just set in the middle and have not used it for at least 3 seasons.  It helped that my middle ring is a 32T and I have a 9 speed cassette.  15,000 miles later the Trek FX 7.5 is almost in need of a total overhaul.  The front derailleur is long past dead although a major soaking in solvent and new cables would revive it. The shifters are pretty well shot, too.  Brakes, Lord I hate V-brake style, need a second replacement.  The bike does stop but they will drag.  There's only so many times one can clean them and one of the spring holes on the stay is egged out.  The rear wheel was replaced two winters ago when the braking surface showed daylight.  Time to strip the frame and replace everything except the seatpost, stem and bars and cranks. Despite the mileage the bottom bracket and headset are still good, a testament to the bike's quality.  What I plan to do is  replace the fork and the wheels and install disc brakes and a 2x9 crank.  The rear triangle is disc ready.

Windsor Kensington.  Mary has the mixte single speed version.

I've looked at alternatives.  Namely bikes with internal gearing and brakes.  Aluminum or titanium frame so that winter will not corrode the bike's heart and soul.  Titanium is a bit pricey for a work mule.  There are a few steel frame bikes that meet my component standards but steel rusts.  I did consider the Windsor Kensington with its front and rear racks plus 8 speed internal but its brakes are not.  Motobecane Bistro was also in the running but steel fork and external brakes.

Motobecane Bistro8v

Then the Bike World Warehouse Sale hit.  Why not support local?  Bike World happens to have many 2011 Trek Soho unsold. These bicycles were originally belt driven not chain driven.  But for some reason the belts were removed and replaced by chains.  If I was ambitious I could reinstal the belt.  But the bike has all the things that the FX was missing: fenders, internal gearing and internal brakes.  The only draw back is the removal procedure for the rear wheel.  Not as simple as my other bikes.  7 speed Nexus internal instead of the 8 speed of the others is another compromise but if 7 cannae get you there then you should stay home.  I may have the 19T rear cog replaced with a 22T for improved climb.

The Bitch.  Probably the reason these bikes never sold.  Going to be fun learning wheel removal technique.  Should invest in bullet proof tires.

The brakes are also internal, Shimano roller brakes.  New to me.   Wiki states "Roller Brake is a modular cable-operated drum brake manufactured by Shimano for use on specially splined front and rear hubs. Unlike a traditional drum brake, the Roller Brake can be easily removed from the hub."

And clocking in at $649 USD it is affordable.  I will place a rear rack on it today and also a computer and lights.  Monday should be its first commute.  I plan to keep the FX in operation as the ice bike until winter is finally over.  Perhaps, if I do not make the stated changes to it, have it return for the 2015/16 winter as the ice bike.  I'd really like to have it up to par as it was a fast bastard when free from racks and heavy tires.

1 comment:

  1. Good looking bike. Interesting set up at the rear drop outs. A through axle where you have to remove the axle to remove the wheel? Be interested to hear what you think of the internal gearing and brakes after a while.