After a series of trials and errors I have the commuter dialed in. I’ll comment in the form of reviews and you can figure out what I have that works and what is so-so.
IBEX (X-Ray) frame REVIEW
Painted this baby in the Rapha colors and it is a true warrior. Although it seems stiff when I stand on it and crank, I am reminded it held its ground and showed some compliance when it was functioning as it was intended, as a cyclocross bike.
Bike Rack REVIEW
Got this at Performance-Mart and have no complaints. I read some reviews and there were some folks that had trouble installing theirs. I can only assume they are the “floaters” in the gene pool as I found installation easy as pie. The rack has been rock solid from day one and nary a sway or negative word could I garnish as far as the rack is concerned. One of the biggest thrills is when I come up on some young uber-fit riders. They look at me and think, “old guy on a bike with a rack, I’ll drop him.” Then they pick up the pace and confidently look over their shoulder expecting to see a fading Evo and there I am smiling, trying to look like I’ve got plenty more if they want to try again. If I had a piece of straw in my mouth it would only add to their frustration.
Ortleib Bike Packer Plus Pannier REVIEW
Oh baby. Mike at work turned me on to these and swore they were the real deal. I got the model he suggested (the bike packer plus) in black to complete the commuters good looks. He was so right. When clipped in, it is as if they are bolted on. There are a couple rough sections of trail where roots have made sharp speed bumps out of the pavement. It doesn’t matter if I bunny hop these or take the bumps with a jolt that rattles my fillings; the panniers don’t budge at all. Then when I arrive they pop off easier than unclipping a seat belt. They swallow my stuff like a grandmother accepts a hug and keep it bone dry in our Northwest winter.
Continental Gatorskin tires 700x28 REVIEW
Bigger is better. Still getting used to not seeing a 22 (Conti Attack) or 23 (Conti GP4000) on the front, but the compliant ride is nice, especially with the stiff frameset. No flats so far. I’m not about to put these fatties on my “fast” bikes, but these are very fit for purpose.
I had originally built the commuter to be a single speed cross bike for my previous work situation. Then I won a bunch of swag at a CX race at the end of last year. It was my first and only podium and I was pleased to have it count (merchandise-wise). I took the cassette, chain and RD and bought some double tap levers off eBay and converted the (now) Rapha into a ten speed (single front ring) commuter. Then when I picked up a SRAM compact 180mm crank, the Rapha got my old FSA compact. A Rival FD and I was able to enjoy all 20 speeds as God intended. It takes almost no time to adjust to the shifting and even the Rival shifters are clean enough. The front shifting is fast, or at least that is my initial impression. The missing tooth in the cassette hasn’t won me over, but ask me again in June.
Can you ever be satisfied ? Me thinks that whatever you have, you always want more. Once again, ask me in June.