Indecisive Ponderings on Bicycles

People on the internet like to say that the correct number of bikes to have is n+1, where n equals the number of bikes you currently have. To me, this seems mildly idiotic, as it tends to lead to an infinite number of bicycles.

My current thinking is that the correct number is three. These should consist of:

  1. A road / touring / randonneuring style bike
  2. A mountain / fire trail / all terrain style bike
  3. A city / commuter / foul weather style bike

My current stable consists of a 1988 Trek 520, for category 1, a Surly Karate Monkey for category 2, and a ridiculous Eastman Roadster for style 3.

It is becoming obvious to me that my Eastman Roadster is not a suitable bike for my purposes. It’s just to small for me, and no amount to monkey business with funny stems and handlebars is going to make it work. So, I’m getting rid of it. (If you want it, lemme know. I’ll let it go for a case of good beer or equivalent).

Anyhow, this leaves me with a hole in my holy trinity of bicycles. Before I got the roadster, I was planning to build up a cross check with Sturmey Archer gearing and whatnot, but I spent too much time gawking at Dottie and Velouria, and I got all swept away with the romance of the old style city bikes, and ended up with the Roadster.

In any event, the most obvious option would be to pick up a cross check frame as I originally planned, and use the cross check with albatross bars and hub gears for my city bike.

The other option is to put the sturmey wheels on my Trek (which currently sports Albatross bars anyhow) and get a whole new bike for the category 1 road / touring / randonneuring bike.
But why would I want to turn my road bike into a dopey City bike anyhow? Well, I’m not sure exactly what, but something is different about it ever since I crashed it and had to replace the fork. I’m not sure if it’s the rake, or if it’s merely aesthetic, but something is different, and I just don’t feel the love on the Trek anymore the way I did when she looked like this:

My Trek (pre crash)

She looks like this at the moment.

Trek with Albatross Bars

Anyways, as I see it, if I’m going to get a new road bike, there are really only two legitimate options within my feeble budget. Either a Cross Check, or a Long Haul Trucker.

I’ve been spending the past few days reading frame geometry charts, stroking my beard, and being indecisive. I really like my Trek, except I with the top tube was a bit longer, and I wish it could take bigger tires. Either frame would do those things for me. Here is the geometry breakdown of both frames, compared to the Trek.

LHT Trek 520 CC
Seat Tube 620 647 620
Top Tube 620 589 610.1
Head Tube Angle 72 72 72
Seat Tube Angle 72 72.7 72
BB Drop 78 65 66
Chainstay 460 455 425
Wheelbase 1085.3 1081 1044.8
Rake 52 52 44

My Trek appears to occupy the middle ground between the full loaded touring manliness of the LHT, and the more roadish sportiness of the CC. But, the CC has the semi-horizontal dropouts that would make it work with my Sturmey Hub if this frame ends up as the City bike afterall, and the CC can take pretty seriously big tires. I have seen pictures on the internet of people running nanoraptors on one. I don’t plan to run nanoraptors, but it’s pretty cool that I could.

On the other hand, the LTH has thicker tubing, which might come in handy since I’m a big fat ass at the moment.


Actually, now that I’ve had to go back through my blog and dig out the old pictures of the Trek, I’ve had time to reminisce about all our lovely adventures together over the years, and I think I want to give her another chance to be my road bike, ugly fork and all. I think I need to put the drop bars back on her before I make any rash decisions.

Uhm. Nevermind.

11 thoughts on “Indecisive Ponderings on Bicycles

  1. As I read your post, I was going to suggest trying the drop bars again before deciding.

    It sounds like you’re not acting on this now, but here are my two cents anyway. I absolutely LOVE my LHT. But, if I had to make the choice over again, I would strongly consider a CC instead. I really don’t do enough loaded riding to warrant the LHT, and the CC should be a bit sportier. The LHT can be a bit ponderous. This is a good thing sometimes because it’ll practically steer itself, but it sucks for climbing. The low, low gearing on the stock LHT makes up for it, but that means climbing is very slow. Plus, I have occasional notions of trying singlespeed/fixed, which would be easily doable on a CC.

  2. I’m going to second the CC, mainly for it’s versatility and ability to cross over the lines effectively from one use to another. The horizontal drop-out will fix you up well for not only your IGH, but for a host of other wheels, including what you have on the Trek and KM. So you have not only a commuter, but the potential for a trail bike, street tourer, and a decent bike for S24O’s if you move some racks over. So no matter what you end up doing with the bike, the frame isn’t going to be a limiting factor.

  3. Yeah, I’d go with the Cross-Check as well. I had one for a number of years and you can turn it into just about any kind of bike you’d want.

    I’m not sure I’m the guy you’d want advising you on a stable of bikes…my current arsenal consists of a Specialized 29′er cross bike with a 2 stroke motor mounted to it and a Kona BikeHotRod.

  4. The effective top tube length of the X-large Karate Monkey is 632.2mm. The frame is beefy. Your wheels will fit. I have extra parts if you need them. Stretchpants black is a good city bike color. Pull off the “Karate Monkey” lettering and the significant other will never know that you have two of the same bike. Munk-ay!

  5. I thought about using the KM as a city bike. I’m not sure I’d be able to find a clamp for the “pork chop” for the front wheel that would go around the KM’s big front fork.

  6. Looks like Sturmey Archer part # HSL-703 is a 22.2mm version of the clip that comes with the XL-FDD hub.

    I have to find 5mm worth of washers to make the rear hub fit the 135mm rear end of the KM, but it looks like another KM is a real option.

  7. As an indulgent spoiled idiot who has way too many bikes for his own good, and as a person with both crosscheck (’01 or so) and LHT (’05 or so), I say that it depends solely on how you intend on using said pea-green cycle. I’ve done far more riding on the LHT. It’s a battle axe, a donkey, a mayan slave train hauling any cargo without complaint. It’s also very comfy, non-racy and I find that I never get tired of the position of the bike, understanding that I bought a VO seatpost with more setback. It’s *heavy*, but so am I. Of my numerous bikes, it’s one of the few that I’d never sell unless I were buying another one.

    As for the Crosscheck, my opinions are more mixed. It’s more “racy” geometry puts the bars more below the saddle without a jacked-up stem. It carries things well enough, but not nearly as well as the LHT. Maybe the newer ones have more options, but my older one doesn’t have seatstay rack braze-ons. Funnily enough I’ve said numerous times that I was ready to sell it until the last month when I happened upon something funny. Earlier I installed moustache bars and a jacked-up short stem with shitty Firecross tires. I changed to 35c Paselas and the bike changed instantly. It’s great, really great, so much that I spent a bit more $ for an inexpensive Axiom rear rack. Now it’s the go-to sporty city commuter. Some of the braking issues (precipitated by a bad rim weld) are cleared up b/c I’m never going so hard on monster descents to scare me.

    I’ll shut up. The LHT if you want comfort, reliability, near endless variability, especially with 26″ wheels which will take near damn any tire made by man. The Crosscheck if you want to set up a short-stem, moustache bar, rear-rack commuter.

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