Thursday, 1 May 2014

Mist Green and Monstertrucking

So, having been pretty satisfied with the performance of the new forks in a wide variety of situations, and becoming pretty annoyed at how quickly the current weather was rusting things up, I dropped the frame off to my favourite powdercoating outfit on Monday. I checked in on it halfway through the week and while it was definitely coloured in the manner I wanted, it wasn't as industrial as I required, so we decided on another coat of clear matt.

This morning I picked it up and this is the result;

Green Mist is the colour of choice...
I forgot to tell the chap to keep the logo clear, I carefully removed this during the assembly
2 coats tends to smooth out my lumpy welds pretty well
Lit by the last sunshine of the day - 10.30am approx.

Clearly things couldn't stay in such a bare state for long, so a couple of hours later I had this result, and to be honest I am pretty stoked with it. It needs to be significantly dirtier than this but no doubt that will come about soon;

Deeply satisfactory.

So while the fatty was out of action I was hankering for a wee bit of off road action, and the nearest thing I had to a serviceable steed was my Surly Disc Trucker. The Trucker is my go-to bike for pretty much anything, and tends to be the one that goes on holiday with me as it is so versatile. I have done a fair bit of trail work on it in road trim and it does a pretty good job.

Last weekend I took it up the hill and on a few light trails, and it performed pretty well, given I had 60psi in its essentially slick Continental touring tyres. I got a few amusing comments from the people riding the same trails on mountain bikes.

I took the guards and panniers off for my hilltop excursions...
Now I have had a bit of a thing for cyclocross bikes over the last couple of months, there is something about the do-anything, go-anywhere attitude that they have that works for me pretty well. I am even sort of planning a new commuter/cx bike for some point in the future. In the meantime I got to thinking that the main problem with the Trucker off road was the skinny tyres, and apart from that it was pretty much already a cx bike. Inevitably I started measuring clearances and this happened somehow;

That, in my humble opinion, looks the absolute tits.

The tyres are WTB Nano 2.1's, and there is very, very little clearance to the frame. Still, my initial impressions of its off road capability are extremely positive....

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Fork it

I may have mentioned that I was not 100% happy with the forks on the Fatness, the biggest issue being the steerer tube flexing quite disconcertingly under load. This was because I used straight gauge 4130 where I should have used a proper butted tube. Various tiresome things have got in the way of doing anything about it, but now things have progressed.

One of the issues preventing progress is that I was really quite unhappy with where my TIG welding skills were at. I started the new forks a few weeks ago, but the welding of the crown parts to the steerer was frankly terrible, with lots of bubbles and voids and large chunks of tungsten thrown into the mix. I could TIG weld once upon a time, so why couldn't I do it now? This stalled things because I want 100% confidence in something as stressed as a fork and I fell into framebuilders funk.

As it happened I had ordered enough parts for two sets of forks, so a few days ago I decided to start in fresh on the second set. I did a few trial welds with the same issues, then decided to swap the tungsten from the recommended thoriated type to a ceriated one that came with the machine. What a difference! It was like coming home and settling in front of the fire with a hot toddy. And so I cracked on with super renewed enthusiasm. The skill is still not at the level it was when I did it for a job, but it is way, way nicer than it was.

Mitering in the fork tubes
Some slightly better then previous welds, yesterday. The next ones were much better than this.
All fitted up. I changed the design detailing a bit, the fork tubes are closer to each other for a start, this was defined by the Ceeway sourced plug in dropouts I used.
The fork is also taller to give a bit more vertical clearance. This slightly slackens the headtube angle, and I took a 10mm spacer out of the stem stack to drop it back to the previous height.
And I angled the fork tube caps and used flat sheetmetal instead of coins
Well, it is a fork attached to a fatbike. Time to see if it will work....
Yes, I have been riding some wet trails in the recent past. All trails in Christchurch are wet and will be for the foreseeable future.
So the plan is to ride it as it is for a week or two to see if there are any niggles, then strip it down for coating. The thin coat of primer is not really cutting it in the current conditions. I have been riding it a lot though.... including a trip with some fat friends to Hanmer.

In other bike related news I built this up for my eldest daughter - I got sick of buying crappy kids bikes and I figured this would last her for a good long while. I got it as a stripped frame and forks with wheels and brake calipers. By the time I bought a headset/BB/chain/cassette/hanger/derrailleurs/discs/levers/shifters/tyres it became probably the least economic option possible. But it looks sweet and will last forever. She loves it.

I also spotted these forlorn looking beasties in the woodshed, I will need to bring them inside for the winter I imagine.

In other, other bike related news I have a new set of tubes awaiting me in the garage. These are to make into my wife's fattie, which I may well TIG now, and looking further out I have plans for an updated commuter with disc brakes and much other secret goodness.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Upgrades and Downhills

It has been a few weeks since I have blogged, firstly there was the Christmas break to contend with and secondly I have been spending a lot of time actually on the fattie...this included a group ride along the beach from Brighton Pier up to Spencer Park and back. This involved a fair amount of dune bombing and general foolishness, plus some racing along the Burwood Forest MTB tracks. More pics and info on this trip can be found here (assuming you have twitface).

I have coined a new collective noun; A lard of Fatbikes.

I have also spent a fair bit of time at Halswell Quarry doing loops on the singletracks there while I got used to the handling and capabilities of the beast, and have also done the Rapaki/Mt Vernon/Vic Park/Bowenvale Loop a couple of times. The first time up Rapaki made it pretty obvious I was going to need more gears, it was a serious grind and I needed to stop a few times to make it up without puking. I calculated what I would need based on the Disc Trucker gearing and adding a 30 tooth front simply wasn't going to cut it. To this end I made an investigation into monster cassettes, in particular this beast;

This gives a 42 tooth sprocket at the expense of the 17 tooth in a 10 speed cassette.

The problem was the leadtime, they have sold out and will not be shipping until March. There is also a NZ option coming on line in the form of a nice looking CNC beast from Revolution Components here in Christchurch, but again there would be a bit of a wait.

I decided I couldn't wait and so this happened pretty pronto;

A Single Speed sprocket I had lying around, a laser cut BMX spider and a 42 tooth ramped front sprocket; jobs a goodun.
I initially screwed things together just to make sure of fitment and clearances.
The SLX cassette is 11-36 teeth, I needed to split the middle cluster and remove the 17 tooth sprocket. This meant drilling out the pins, shortening them and peening the pins over to lock the cluster together again.
Once I was happy that everything would work I tigged the sprocket and spider together.
All fitted up.
A wee bit of tweaking to the dérailleur and all was good. The shifting is just possibly not as smooth into the 42T as it is for the rest, but it gets into gear and stays there no problem. The proof is in the pudding though and I did Rapaki again with nary a problem nor a stop to catch breath - great success!

The only worry is whether or not the extra torque from the sprocket will chew out my extremely clicky Hope freewheel, but I will pull it off in a couple of weeks to see how things look.

In other news I have upgraded the brakes as well, some of the descents through Victoria Park on my first ride there made it clear I would need more stopping power - the unfortunate condition of my undies made this abundantly clear. The Avid BB7's work just fine on my Disc Trucker, but were not giving me masses of confidence on the Fatness. T'internet told me the best bang for buck was going to be Shimano SLX M675's. These were ordered from Chain Reaction on a Friday morning and were dropped off the next Tuesday... I did use the DHL option but still I am impressed. Nothing like instant purchase gratification to oil the wheels of rampant consumerism.

The brakes work exceptionally well, they are extremely confidence inspiring...

I cleaned and checked over the beast and took some pics today - this was after a hard core 2 hour session at the BMX track with my kids - a serious endurance test.
The XT dérailleur has no problems coping with the extra movement required.
Homebrew monster cassette in place and working sweet as bro.
Tidy install of the SLX brakes at the back.
And at the front.
Only marginally living suburban lawn, today
Mmmmm fatness.
So the only real issue I have come up against is the front forks; I used plain gauge tube for the steerer and it moves around more than I am entirely comfortable with. There is no sign of plastic deformation or breakage, but I think I will make a new fork with a proper butted steerer anyway, just for my own confidence. Once this is done I shall get some proper paint on it, as the primer is already showing signs of wear...

We had a family ride around Mcleans Island last week, I moved the seat around so my lovely wife could use this instead of the slightly less appropriate Mixte she usually runs - she liked it so much that I suspect the next build might be another fattie just for her....

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Gears and Blackness

On Friday a little package arrived from Ceeway containing the cable tie brazons, so pretty sharpish the whole beast was stripped down and bits were stuck on with the hot glue gun. I was pretty excited, so I completely forgot to take any pics of this process sorry, I shall flagellate myself for my this oversight.

The drivetrain package arrived early last week and also got fitted up quickly, It took virtually no effort to get set up and has been working perfectly. It is still a pretty tight squeeze to the tyre when in the lowest gear, but it hasn't been rubbing or banging yet so I am happy. The gearing works pretty well in the real world. As a result of this I have been riding this relentlessly this last week, using the flimsiest of premises to go for a spin, and always with a massive grin. I commuted to work on it one day and even got three scalps, although I suspect this is something like the equivalent of a granny bike so anything is fair game. Unfortunately all this usage meant that the frame has been getting wet and as a result a fair amount of surface rust keeps appearing. I was getting bored with buffing it off all the time so I thought I would smash on some Matty B primer on it to marginally reduce the corrosion. This is the result, which I think looks pretty awesome, although it clearly shows up the extra work the fillet brazing needs. I am not sure that this will be the final colour though;

I silver soldered on a copper logo, then took to it with a hammer for a more industrial effect
The fillets are not too bad here, much worse elsewhere
The current Pogward logo
The fresh 1x10 drivetrain - SLX cassette, XT dérailleur and shifter
Many cable tie brazons were added. This also adds to the industrial effect
The coin definition is better now that it is all one colour
A single brazon for the front brake cable. I wrapped the cable around to the front as it was getting mashed against the back of the fork tube when it got near the downtube
The MattyB shows up flaws in the brazing pretty well. I will be able to see any cracks coming for sure
I thought this was pretty good, but it needs a fair amount of work on those fillets
I can see some hours getting used up here *sigh*
So this is pretty much it until after Chrimbo, I am tossing up whether I take this or the Disc Trucker on holiday, the trucker is more capable all round, but this is just so much fun...

Sunday, 8 December 2013

A weekend of fatness

The courier gods were indeed smiling upon me, because a fat package was found in my letterbox on Friday morning containing the single speed tensioner. I had already decided to take the day off so after a quick trip to one of the many bike shops I frequent for a brake cable and a new seatpost clamp, the kit was fitted, tested and the bike was clearly gagging for a shakedown. I wasted no time and drove out to Mcleans Island for a burn. I have been out there fairly regularly, but I had to ask someone where the track started because the main track appeared to be closed off due to logging. Once I had been put right I set off around the now very bitsy 10k loop. The bike performed flawlessly though, and after a time I forgot about the forks breaking etc and just fell into a sweet rhythm. The bike pretty much disappeared from consciousness, leaving me to enjoy the ride, which I took as a sign of great success.

A dusty The Fatness, last Friday
I had 20PSI in those tyres, Dave suggested I halve that pressure, which has actually increased the awesomeness

So all this effort to get the thing rideable was so I could honour Global Fatbike Day. I texted a chap I know called Kevin who has a Surly Moonlander to see if he wanted to catch up. As it turned out he had already organised a fatbike ride starting from Chain Reaction in Riccarton - stoked!

I grovelled to my wife for an eternity, even offering to give up rights to my usual Sunday ride in return for leave to tag along with the other Fatty boys. I had to make myself cry before she relented, but she eventually did, so at 10 am sharp on Saturday morning I was there.

It was awesome fun, bombing around the city for a couple of hours finding interesting things to ride over and playing Fatbike bingo, which you play by shouting bingo when someone asks what they are for or says that they have very big wheels etc etc. We had many many bingoes. We also played Fatbike Wife Swap, where we each rode everyone else's fattie and compared characteristics. A great day out and it inspired the creation of a Fat Bikes Canterbury facebook page.

A collection of Fatbikes, yesterday. The white one has custom front suspension and one other had a dangerous looking lefty suspension setup.
The Fatness leaning up to Kevin's Moonlander. Kevin has every possible accoutrement on his bike, it weighs quite a lot. The Fatness was almost worryingly light in comparison
Stopping for an iced coffee at the St Asaph Street Kitchen
I have been using pretty much any feeble excuse to take this for a ride now, I sneaked out this afternoon for a bout of sub-urban off roading in the rain. As I get used to it's handling things just get better and better. I am genuinely stoked with this machine.

Also according to the internets my wee package of drivetrain components has arrived in Christchurch and is waiting to be dispatched to my house bright and early tomorrow morning. I hope it all fits ok...