December 23, 2009

Experiments and a new bike for yours truly

I got a call from the folks at SRAM today asking if I wanted some free parts to try out a new BB/crank interface system they’ve come up with (I’ll post lots more details about that at a later date when I have the stuff in hand, but suffice to say that I think it’s argueably a near-ideal combination of the best attributes of many of the existing systems that are out there). This made me think a bit about my bike project for the new year (a new singlespeed to replace the one that I sold to my friend Chris) and how much experimenting I want to do.

Experimenting on myself is great because I get to see how the product works all the way from production (building the frame) to application in the real world (riding it). And since I’m a pretty huge snob, as well as theoretically not a slouch in the bike riding department, I can get a pretty good idea of how something works and whether it’s worth using on frames for customers.

It’s also fun to mess with new stuff and write about it on the blog, of course, and I don’t want to be that grumpy (too late) bearded (still ok on that one) weirdo (crud, 2/3…) who will only build the same old thing over and over. Not everything new is good, there’s lots of hype out there, but there are also legitimate cool new things that are worth doing. Bikes get better every year, and the cream does rise to the top. Hype can only take you so far.

The downside, of course, is that if I build something for myself that isn’t to my liking, I’m stuck with it, and if it really sucks, I can’t even sell the darn thing, at least not with a clear conscience (generally speaking, my philosophy is that if I wouldn’t ride it, I have no business selling it to anyone). I don’t enjoy doing hours of work to make unrideable yard art (yes, it has happened), and in the case of the new “Pressfit 30” BB system, there’s also the chance that it won’t catch on and I’ll be stuck with an obsolete and unsupported bottom bracket, which is pretty much guaranteed to be lawn art once the bearings (or cranks) die.

But I think I’ll probably do it. Here’s the list of things I’ve considered for the new rig and how I’m leaning right now. Feel free to chime in on the comments if you think there’s some crazy new tech I need to be trying out.

-Direct mount front derailleur: Meh, it’s a singlespeed. Plus I’m already testing that on Sarah.
-Pressfit 30 BB: Leaning toward yes.
-Belt drive capability: I think the whole belt drive thing is pretty dumb for non-townie bikes, but it’s easy to make the frame compatible with the new Paragon stuff, so maybe?
-Radically offset seat tube/super short chainstays: I’m torn on this. I’ve done a bunch of