Nov 29, 2006

Me bike

In the bored-at-work series, I thought I'd present you my bike. It doesn't have a name and I don't intend give it one, although I do call it my Two-Wheeled Winnebago. Surly copied my idea by naming their Long Haul Trucker that isn't a truck.

It's Peugeot Alpin Pro. Not a "real" Peugeot though. It was made in Canada by Procycle, who I believe is the largest manufacturer in Canada. They also make Mikado and Miele, as well as some other brands, none of them being very high-end. A bike shop owner called Procycle bikes "component racks", which means they're only good to attach component on. I never went back to that shop. So, apart from being bored, why am I writing this, and why do I like this cheap bike? Precisely because it was cheap, it looks good and it gets the job done. I like it even more when I see the current touring bikes offering.

I bought my Winnebago in may 1998. It was the only "road bike" in a sea of mountain bikes. I didn't know much about bikes then. I could only recognize tourers by the third bottle cage mount, mid-fork braze-ons and the general robust look, which could've been explained by the thicker tubes needed for aluminium bikes.

Anyway, I looked at it: Silver grey, the same color I painted an old ten-speed I built out of three bikes. Did the heel-on-pedal-with-leg-extended to check the fit: It did fit. I looked at the price tag: 700$ reduced from 1100$. That's canadian dollars at a time it was worth less than Monopoly money. The salesman said the bike had been sitting in the shop for two years, hence the rebate. I was hooked. I also bought a rear rack, toe-clips, water cages and bottles, and a handlebar bag.

Oh boy was I happy! The ride was so smooth and silent. Everybody asked about the bar-end shifters (people still ask), and I told them they were the latest thing. They were not. I just didn't know about STI. Now I know that barcons are relatively common on touring bikes because they are simple like downtube shifters without having to take the hands off the bar. That was one thing that made me appreciate it more.

Another is the touring geometry. Except for the chain stays, I haven't measured anything on my bike. I did try a few others and I could feel my Peugeot was made for touring while many others are The chainstays make a lot of the touring geometry and my bike's are 44-45cm, depending on how I measure them. Lots of new tourers have shorter stays, which means risk of heel strike against the panniers, a load that's further back instead of on top of the wheel, and a generally lest stable bike.

Yet another thing is the 40 spoke rear wheel. It was bombproof, well, until I damaged the rim. I had a trip coming and I couldn't find a 36 spoke wheel with a 7s hub, never mind a 40 spoke wheel. I don't quite remember why I couldn't just buy a 40h rim and have it laced with the original hub. Did I mention the hub is XT? On that crappy bike? Anyway, I needed a wheel FAST and settled on 32 spokes. I broke a spoke at the end of the first 30km ride, almost in front of the shop. They just ordered another wheel. The shop screwed up a bit in this wheel saga. Now I know them a little more and insist a bit more about what I want and don't want. They also cleared some bad apples. Anyway, the 32 spoke wheel gave me a lot trouble. Broke many spokes. Now I got a Sun CR18 36h on a 9 speed hub with a spacer. Those 9s hubs have so much dish it's scary. The wheel worked well except the spokes loosened so much, the rim was rubbing on the brake pads. I was on tour with a heavy load. I managed to straighten it but it turns a bit oval. Next time I'll find a 40h rim and use my orginal hub.

Perhaps the best "surprise" about my bike is the gearing. I say surprise because I was ignorant back then. My Peugeot came with "mountain bike" gearing. That's 22-32-42 crankset with 11-28 cassette. I actually asked a shop to put larger chainrings. He talked me out of it and I'm glad. That was before I went to Charlevoix and Gasp├ęsie. Funny coz more recently, I've had bike shops saying MTB gearing is too low. Many current touring bikes have a "road triple" with 30-42-52 chainrings. It's way too high for riding any decent hills with a fully loaded bike, day after day.

What's original:
- Frame (6061-t6 aluminium)
- Handlebars (too narrow but bearable)
- STX-RC front and rear derailers
- Front wheel (Sun Rim CR16 36h with Parallax hub)
- Brake levers (Shimano RSX)
- Bar-ends shifters (DuraAce)
- Seatpost

What was replaced/added
- Fork (changed after crash)
- Crankset (normal wear, once changed big ring, then whole crankset + bottom bracket)
- Cassette (normal wear, current is SRAM 12-32)
- Cables, brake pads chain and tires (currently SRAM chain, Koolstop pads and Schwalbe Marathon XR tires)
- Tubus Logo rear rack + B&M Toplight 4D
- Old Man Mountain AC Lowride front rack
- Fenders (Zefal + Gilles Berthoud mudflap on front)
- Saddle (abnormal ass wear, original too narrow, second too squishy, current: Brooks B17)
- Mountain Myrricle mirror (broke one due to bad mounting)
- Topeak Road Morph pump (mounted on some other mini-pump mount)
- SPD pedals (Shimano M545)
- Headset (current: Shimano 105)

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