Friday, 2 December 2011

Winter Bike

It's that time of year when part of every mountain bike ride involves keeping yourself warm and dry, your tyres pointing in the direction you intended on travelling and your gears free of at least some of the mud and clag on the trail all around you. Most rides at this time of year I simply reach for the rigid singlespeed, more out of maintaince avoidance than any evangelical singlespeed nonsense. 

However, some days I must confess; it just seems like hard work. On these (hopefully rare) days, normally at 6:30am before riding over the Downs to work with my lunch and a laptop on my back, to give myself a fighting chance of not spending more time maintaining my bike than riding it and to keep the smile on my face, I have, this year, built myself a winter bike. Yes, it's not a Santa Cruz, but I did win it riding one, so I think I'm entitled to ride it a bit.

Yes, it has 26" wheels, not 29er ones. But it is also a lovely (one off) chrome finish. The bars are quite narrow, but that works pretty well as I have a narrow hall, making it easier to walk past when I leave it by the front door (a very real consideration). The things that make it my ideal winter bike though, are:

1) Alfine 8s rear hub for mud free shifting every time & no mechs, cassettes and chainrings to collect mud either, all the moving parts are sealed inside, operated by a single run of full outer cable to shift gears

Mud friendly Alfine 8 Gear Hub
2) Eccentric bottom bracket for hassle free chain tension adjustment, also home to some Jones style XTR polished cranks
Shiney polished XTR "Jonesed" Cranks spinning in a n EBB housing
3) Rigid fork, goodbye to regular fork servicing
Rigid fork up front, importantly (for me at least!)  with colour matching white crown
4) Crud catcher up front and race guard out back to keep mud out my eyes and off my back, coupled with a tough, waterproof rear light, the Exposure Flare
Tough, bright & properly waterproof Exposure Flare rear light coupled with a rear mudguard, a great winter option
5) The most important part: Alfine dynamo disc front hub, powering an 800lm dynamo light on the bars, complete with a 400lm standlight, nicknamed "the deanamo" by a friend. Genius! All packaged up in an handy old Exposure MaXx-D can, with its nice waterproof o-ring seals for all weather commuting
Alfine Dynamo disc front hub, full brightness lights all night (and all week commuting in the dark)
Last, but by no means least "the deanamo", the world's first off road dynamo?
800 lumens of light all winter, and no charging. Ever.
Not the world's fastest race bike and for a rigid bike with only 8 gears it's not really "race light", but with a bit of luck it'll keep going all winter with the minimum of maintainance and to get me out on those rare days when the Highball singlespeed just seems like too much work, no matter what I throw at it. My inner bike tart also secretly loves the chome/polish and white colour scheme, irrespective of how sensible it is for winter!