Compass Bicycle Stampede Pass 700c x 32mm Tire

Fresh rubber...

Fresh rubber…

Sharon’s Surly Cross Check has been rolling on Grand Bois Cypres 700c x 32mm tires for several years now. In that time she’s only had a few flats despite riding nearly daily to work. She’s not a powerful rider so having supple fast rolling tires is important to her. The Cypres fit the bill well.

Compass Bicycle has come up with their own version of this tire called the Stampede Pass. It’s still a supple 700c x 32mm tire. It’s similar to the Grand Bois Cypres and I believe it’s made in the same factory. I’ve been running the extra-light version of this tire tubeless on my Surly Straggler. I haven’t ridden mega miles on that bike, but my initial impressions are good.

Since Sharon rides a lot we got the normal weight version. She’ll make them “extra-light” by wearing them out!

Sharon ready to roll...

Sharon ready to roll…

We are going to upgrade Sharon’s wheels this fall as part of her birthday present. When that happens we’ll setup these tires tubeless as well. That should make her very few flats head towards zero and make these fast supple tires even faster. That’s win-win in my books. 🙂

Compass Bicycle sells these tires online for $57USD. If you live in Victoria, BC The Fairfield Bicycle Shop stocks them.

Surly Straggler

Singlespeed simplicity...

Singlespeed simplicity…

I built up a Straggler recently to replace my LHT as a commuter bike on my 50km round trip between Victoria BC and Sidney.

The goal was to build a bike that was more fun to ride than my LHT unloaded and faster…in that order of priority. My secondary goals were to reuse as many parts as I could from my spares bin and maximize compatibility across my fleet. I’m really tired of building up expensive wheels that only work on one bike for example.

40T x 16T...

40T x 16T…

My build is pretty basic:

  • 58cm Straggler 700c version
  • Velocity Blunt SL rims + Hope Evo Pro 2 hubs
  • Compass Bicycle 32mm tires setup tubeless
  • Race Face Turbine cranks + Time ATAC pedals
  • SS 40T x 16T drievtrain
  • Brooks B17
  • Velo Orange hammered 45mm fenders
  • Avid BB7 brakes with 160mm rotors
  • Salsa Short ’n Shallow bars with Tektro brake levers
  • Salsa 70mm Moto Ace stem
Front end...

Front end…

I’ve got a torn muscle in my arm so I have been keeping my rides short. So far the bike is meeting my expectations for enjoyment and speed. The SS gear ratio seems to work for the speed range and terrain I am riding.

The fit is good [I ride a 58cm LHT]. I may swap in a slightly longer stem, but I’ll wait and see if that’s needed once my arm is better and I can commute on it a few times.

Unlike my LHT I have kept this bike clean and simple. No racks, no gears, no dynohub and no tubes! I did install full fenders and mud flaps because I live in the PNW and I hate getting road grim on me….especially since a good chunk of my commute is dirt.

Rear end...

Rear end…

Although the Straggler is setup SS at the moment the rear Hope hub is a geared version so I can quickly swap to a 1x derailleur setup using a down tube shifter. Given my move towards light weight touring and the fact I don’t need super low gears a single-ring drivetrain will more than meet my needs for the odd road tour I take this bike on. Heck I may give SS touring a shot and not bother with gears, but it’s nice to have the option.

In terms of negatives for this bike my main concern is whether I’ll find the frame too stiff for my needs. I enjoy a lively flexible steel frame and the performance that comes with it. However, when considering my options the cost of the Straggler frame was such a good deal through my LBS I figured it was worth a shot. Worst case I sell it next spring and move the parts to something else.

Can be setup as a singlering drivetrain if desired...

Can be setup as a singlering drivetrain if desired…

My 58cm black 26” wheeled LHT will be posted for sale shortly. I’m going to clean it up and take some photos today for the ad.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/vikapproved/sets/72157624116957171/

Sadly this will be the end of my membership in the Surly LHT club, but at least I’ve still got a Surly under me! 😉

Full fenders and mud flaps...

Full fenders and mud flaps…

650B Disc Road Bike?

 

Something like this, but less bling! ;)

Something like this, but less bling! 😉

I figured the collective bike geek IQ of the internet could help me. I’m keen on a new commuter bike that is not sluggish like the Long Haul Trucker I am currently riding. I would also like to standardize parts across the fleet to simplify things. If you know of any bikes/frames that meet my needs please post a comment. Thanks! 🙂

Must Haves

  • designed for 650B wheels [no hacks]
  • clearance for 42mm Grand Boise Hetres + fenders
  • fender mounts
  • lightweight/flexible frame [no tanks!]
  • production bike level cost [no bling custom frames]
  • disc brakes front and back

 

Nice to Have

  • low trail geo
  • 135mm rear hub spacing
  • downtube shifter mounts
  • fender mounts that play nice with clean fender lines
  • 1 1/8″ steerer
  • flexible dropouts for geared/SS/IGH

Surly Long Haul Trucker Commuter Bike…

My LHT revamped as a commuter bike...

My LHT revamped as a commuter bike…

For my ~50km round trip commute to Sidney the most appropriate bike in my fleet is my Surly Long Haul Trucker. So I swapped in a dynohub + lights and made a few more changes to dial it in for this mission. The LHT is a versatile bike that can carry lots of stuff in any weather day or night. It’s overbuilt for lightly loaded riding so it doesn’t respond efficiently to hard efforts. Instead it encourages a steady speed in the low to mid 20kph range. I can sprint over 30kph, but the LHT does not get in sync with my pedal stroke and I get quickly tired.

B&M light with Shimano dynohub...

B&M light with Shimano dynohub…

I really hate charging batteries for my bike lights and have been let down many times by batteries that were supposed to be charged, but ran out earlier than expected. Happily I had a 26″ wheel with a Shimano dynohub available as well as a B&M IQ Cyo Plus light. It’s nice having lights 24/7 without having to give them a second thought.

B&M light mounted to an OMM Sherpa front rack...

B&M light mounted to an OMM Sherpa front rack…

These B&M lights have a vertical cutoff so light goes where it’s needed – down on the road and not into the eyes of oncoming riders, pedestrians or vehicle operators. I mounted it inside my front rack so I can still attach panniers and so it’s protected when I lock it up at a bike rack. I leave the light on 24/7 as there is virtually no difference in drag at the hub either way.

Schwalbe Big Apple tires, Velo Orange fenders and Buddy Flap mudflaps...

Schwalbe Big Apple tires, Velo Orange fenders and Buddy Flap mud flaps…

Fenders and large volume balloon tires make riding in the wet on dirt and gravel trails comfortable and both my LHT and I stay clean.

1 x 9 drivetrain and flat pedals...

1 x 9 drivetrain and flat pedals…

This is my current drivetrain setup. 1 x 9  with a 36T chain ring x 34T cog low gear. I left the front derailleur on the bike for now. It will get removed during the next major overhaul. I can’t see needing higher or lower gears.

I started riding with flat pedals for their versatility and comfort. I have since switched to clipless pedals and stiff bike shoes. Interestingly I have set all my commuter PRs on the flat pedals.

OMM Sherpa rear rack, Brooks B17 saddle...

OMM Sherpa rear rack, Brooks B17 saddle…

OMM racks are strong and light. My Brooks B17 saddle is comfortable without any padded bike shorts.

Dual rear lights, VO fender and long Buddy Flap...

Dual rear lights, VO fender and long Buddy Flap…

Metal full coverage fenders work very well with long mudflaps that nearly reach the ground. This keeps my bike and I clean – not to mention other riders who may be behind me on wet days. I have dual rear lights mounted for redundancy. I use the top Radbot 1000 on slow flash most of the time because it uses little power and the flash mode is not irritating to other folks I run into. The Superflash on the bottom is a backup and for particularly dark or foggy rides. Because it has an annoyingly fast and bright flash mode I use it set to steady in consideration for other people who have to look at it. By using two lights I can just let them run out of power and recharge them at my connivence since it’s highly unlikely both will die at the same time.

Retroshift brake levers with shifters mounted...

Retroshift brake levers with shifters mounted…

These Retroshift brake levers with shifters are nice since I usually ride on the hoods or just behind them. Living in the PNWet both my GF and I use rim brakes on our bikes for year round riding. They stop us just fine and we aren’t wearing through rims.

Cateye computer...

Cateye computer…

I generally don’t care about ride data, but since I am using the LHT to get to work this keeps me on track for an on time arrival. It also lets me keep track of my mileage so I can plan effective preventative maintenance.

Velo Orange bell...

Velo Orange bell…

This bell is nice because it doesn’t use up any handlebar real estate and it has a nice sound. As long as I ring it early enough it lets other folks know I am coming without startling them.

Idiot Blaster 4000...

Idiot Blaster 4000…

Although this looks like a bike light it is in fact a visual communication device. If someone is coming at me with one of those highly irritating powerful fast strobe lights I activate the Idiot Blaster 4000 to give them some negative feedback. This is much easier than trying to explain my displeasure as we pass at 50kph relative to each other.

Most of the time I leave this device off. It’s loosely mounted so it can be swivelled up or down depending on how much emphasis the situation requires.

Clippless pedals and Grand Bois tires...

My usual riding position just behind the hoods…

Lately I’ve been using some stiff soled bike shoes and Time ATAC clipless pedals. I use flat pedals on most of my bikes, but I already own these shoes and they fit easily into some goretex rain covers I also own. Since there is no walking on my commute the stiff soles and limited versatility of the pedals isn’t a problem. Conventional wisdom says clipless pedals allow you to put more power into the bike. At least for my commute all my best times have been achieved on flat pedals and street shoes.

I’m not sure if I will keep using these shoes and pedals for my commute. On one hand they work well for that purpose and having rain covers means my feet stay warmer and drier as we head into winter. On the other hand every time I go to use this bike for a non-commute ride in street shoes I either have to swap in flat pedals or deal with a crappy shoe to pedal interface. Since this bike gets used for more than commuting that’s a hassle.

I will definitely switch back to flat pedals in the spring once the weather improves.

Fender gap...

Fender gap…

The Schwalbe Big Apples in 2.15″ width [~55mm] are comfy and deal well with mixed surfaces like pavement, wooden bridge decks, gravel and dirt. However, they are not a very supple tire so they don’t roll as fast as I would like. I swapped in some 26 x 1.75″ tires from Compass Bicycle. These feature the same supple construction as the Grand Bois Hetres and Cypres models I’ve used and loved. I immediately saw a 12% speed increase on my commute and set a new PR with these tires. At 1.75″ wide [~44mm] they offer a comfortable and fast ride. Not quite as comfortable as the much bigger volume  of the Big Apples, but pretty decent. The only downsides are that my LHT handles better with a larger tire and the fender gap is now off. I’m hoping that they’ll make a 2″ width tire.

Ortlieb pannier...

I ride on the hoods when I have to shift/brake or I’m in the mood to sprint…

I’m using one or two of my Ortlieb front panniers on the rear of my LHT. I don’t need the capacity of full sized rear touring panniers. Since they are waterproof I don’t have to worry that my laptop will get wet on the commute.

Victoria to Sidney Commute…

Click for larger interactive map...

Click for larger interactive map…

It’s been  a while since I had an honest to goodness bike commute. Working at home has its perks for sure, but I have missed getting out regularly on the bike to crank my way to work. Recently my long term contract came to an end and I was on the hunt for more work. I got a lead on a short term contract up by the airport that had the potential to expand into 2014.

On the way north...

On the way north…

When I evaluated the opportunity one of the things that came to mind was that it looked like it would be a pretty nice bike commute. I live very close to the Galloping Goose Trail and it connects to the Lochside Trail which runs north up the Saanich Peninsula between Victoria and Sidney. That meant a flat mostly car-free ride 25kms or so each way through some pretty countryside. Even better the route consists of paved sections and well as hard packed dirt and gravel. I like a bit of variety.

My Surly LHT ready to ride to work...

My Surly LHT ready to ride to work…

Having sold all my performance road bikes the most appropriate rig I own is my Surly LHT. It has fenders and can carry some gear easily. I installed a B&M dyno light and Shimano dynohub to provide considerate 24/7 lighting without thinking about charging batteries.

For my initial commutes I left the Schwalbe 26 x 2.15″ Big Apple tires on the LHT. They are very comfy and surefooted on the various surfaces I have to cover [pavement, gravel, dirt/mud and wooden bridges], but they are not fast tires. Eventually I decided it was worthwhile investing in some performance rubber and scored a set of Grand Bois 26 x 1.75″ tires from The Fairfield Bicycle Shop.

A view of my commuter route from a nearby hill...

A view of my commuter route from a nearby hill…

My fastest commute on the Big Apples was 67mins and with the Grand Bois I got my time down to 59mins without feeling that I had to work as hard. A 12% speed increase overnight was nice and mentally a sub-1hr commute seems like it is far easier to fit into my day. Although the 1.75″ tires aren’t as comfortable on the roughest surfaces as the Big Apples for the most part they provide a really pleasant ride with lots of traction.

The September weather has been lovely this year. For the most part we’ve had lots of sun and warm temperatures. The end of the month saw some rain and cooler temperatures, but I got to ride most of the days I wanted to. My weekly schedule has been to ride my bicycle to work 2 days, ride my motorcycle 2 days and work at home 1 day. That gives me 4 hours and 100kms of commuter biking per week with enough flexibility to pick the best days to ride.

Gravel riding - same section seen from hill in photo above...

Gravel riding – same section seen from hill in photo above…

As we get into winter here on Vancouver Island I will have to adapt my clothing to deal with wetter and cooler weather. I’m not stoked to ride in persistent rain, but I don’t mind being a little damp. I also don’t mind taking some chances – particularly when the rain will be on my ride home. With a warm shower, some dry clothes and a  hot cup of tea waiting for me – getting soaked isn’t such a big deal then as it is on the way to work in the morning. I’m putting all my wool rando clothing to good use!

At work - business on top...biking on the bottom...

At work – business on top…biking on the bottom…

The days I ride my bike I am a bit short on free time due to the 2hrs on the bike, but it’s time well spent. I feel better and I thoroughly enjoy that part of my day so I’m happy to give up something else. I’m not sure how long this contract will run for, but while it does I’m going relish each bike commute. 🙂

BTW – I’m too busy time-trialling into work in the morning to get good photos so all, but one of the Lochside Trail photos are from other rides.

A long wooden bridge on the Lochside over a pretty marsh...

A long wooden bridge on the Lochside over a pretty marsh…