Sunday, October 11, 2009

On the Road!

The inaugural Bleriot ride has come and gone! Note the expression on my face, a.k.a. 'shit eating grin' :>)

It's a great ride! I got it to this riding state (no rack, fenders, other accessories) just to give it a try. I spent all of last Saturday, and a decent chunk of last Sunday getting the remainder of the parts hung on the bike. I've done three shakedown rides so far, 10 miles, 20 miles, and 25. I think I've worked most of the kinks out. Several minor issues:

There was a light (but noticeable) high pitched squeal coming from the bottom bracket area from the first ride. It sounded like a rubber seal contacting metal. I think that's worked itself out... so I'll chalk that up to new component 'break in'. There was also an old rocking chair creak coming from the stem area whenever I stood to crank myself up some of the bigger hills around here. That was solved by pulling the stem out and giving it a nice coat of Phil grease.

Also, note this bike has vertical drop outs. Of course, the chain was almost one link off, meaning that I was just a couple of thousandths of an inch too short to make the chain fit without adding a half link, graciously provided by my LBS. Of course, this made the chain too long and necessitated the addition of a chain tensioner. I chose the Surly Singleator.

Two springs come with the Singleator, a 'push up' and a 'push down'. Push up is prefereable since it gives more chain wrap, and less of chance for chain skip when you are really cranking hard. Push up was not an option here...the chain was just too long, even with the chain as short as possible using the half-link setup. As I was riding my second shakedown, I experienced the grind-thunk-crunch-jerk while cranking hard which I could either attribute to chain skip or shifter adjustment. I adjusted my shifter cable to allow for settling in/new cable stretch and cranked up the spring tension on the Singleator. This seems to have fixed the issue, and I had no problems on my today's 25 mile ride.

More pics!

How do I shift this beast? With the Jtek Nexus/Alfine bar end shifter of course! Since this particular frame came with downtube cable stops, this was a no brainer. It made cable routing extra smooth, and with brifter cable adjusters on the stops it made it extra easy to dial in the shift cable adjustment. And it works 'n go. No pedaling necessary to shift with the Nexus hub, either. You can be sitting still, just click to the desired ratio and crank away.

I haven't yet wrapped the bars. For now, I think the bike looks great without bar wrap. In any case, I needed to plug the left end of my dirt drops :>). This was easily accomplished with a handy wine cork...courtesy of my lovely wife. I helped empty the bottle!

Here's the bike finished, with all the good stuff attached. Mark's rack on the front, with Lumotec light attached. Hammered Honjo fenders, Rivendell Sackville seat bag.

My impressions? This sucker is heavy, but not in a bad way. The generator hub and Nexus shifting system aren't lightweights. It's not meant to be a fast road bike, and doesn't feel that way either. I rode one of my hillier rides with it today and didn't drop under 3rd gear, and 8th gear is sufficiently high enough not to spin out on the downhills. Shifting the Nexus hub is dreamy, just click and go. Most times, changing ratios is virtually immediate, no clunking, no grinding, no muss, no fuss.

I know Patrick is interested in the generator lighting. I currently own a rechargeable battery lighting system, a 4w Nite Flux LED I transfter from bike to bike. It is bright, focused with a bluish beam. In high mode, it is plenty bright and reaches out a long way. I took the Bleriot out a couple of nights ago, taking the battery powered light with me. I ran both lights side by side, LED Nite Flux on the left and generator hub halogen Lumotec on the right.

The LED light is definitely brighter in high beam mode. The halogen light projects a yellowish beam, and the pattern is more dispersed. This light is quite sufficient at speed, but you need to be moving a bit faster than walking pace to generate enough current for a decent steady light. My Lumotec is 'Mit Standlicht' (yes, that means 'With Standlight'). It has a small LED below the halogen bulb which stays on for approximately 10 minutes, charged by a capacitor while riding. So when you stop, you're not left completely in the dark. It's enough for a decent night light, but not much else. While the light is on, you will feel some resistance and a low frequency vibration from the generator hub. It's nothing like the whine from a rear wheel bottle generator, for sure...and it won't eat up your tire sidewall. If you're going to do lots of night riding, go for it! You won't need to worry about batteries, and the standlight is definitely a nice touch when you are standing still. However, if I were going on a multi-day ride I'd take a battery powered light with me, just in case. It was nice to have it mounted when I wanted some extra lighting power, especially at low speeds or when I was standing still.

These are my initial impressions so far. I'm sure I'll have more insights as I continue riding it but now so far, so great! -D :>))


Travel Gravel said...

2 words. Mega Miler.
2 more, Let'er Eat.
Nice build up D. I wish I could build the wheels I ride. Such an art! Later! Gravelista!

Dwight said...

Gravel Mon!! Generator hubs kick ass. And my cheeks will be tired because I plan on Mega Miling this bike, shit-eating grin all the way!

Building your own wheels really isn't that tough if you have the right equipment and the patience. It gets much easier after the first wheel or two!