Out the Door at Two Wheel Drive

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Two Wheel Drive has been central to Albuquerque’s cycling community since opening in 1982.  Longtime owner Charlie Ervin is responsible not only for developing the culture of cycling in town, but for many of the area’s mountain bike trails including those near Cedro Peak and Otero Canyon.  He has also had his hand in urban advocacy efforts, by which Albuquerque now claims the honor of being a bike-able livable city.  There are over twenty bike shops in town.  This is one of the best.

I work at Two Wheel Drive one day a week, building, tinkering, and if lucky, talking to customers about riding bikes.  Last week, a Surly Ogre left the shop with a comfortable upright bar and medium-volume commuting tires.  A 700c Surly Disc Trucker came and went in a hurry– a special order for a customer planning a mixed surface tour around New Mexico this spring.  And a young customer approached about a bike capable of a spring tour in Europe– most likely a Cross-Check or a Long Haul Trucker, according to his research.  When riders enter with such requests and inquiries, I can barely conceal my elation at the possibility that they may actually ride a bicycle somewhere.

Civia Halsted

This bike is a special order for a friend and customer that is moving to San Diego in the coming months.  His new house will be less than mile from the beach, and a bike is the perfect way to get to and from.  But what about the dog?  Especially in the busy urban environment?  The Civia Halsted features a broad front platform for large or unusually shaped loads.  The 20″ front wheel ensures that the load is low, minimizing its impact on the steering.  The bike comes stock with a 1×9 drivetrain, comfortable handlebars, powerful brakes and big tires– there’s nothing not to like about this build.

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Notably, the load is secured to the frame, not to the fork.  Thus, the steering remains light, even if the bike carries some additional inertia due to the weight of the load.  This kind of attachment is useful on bikes designed for large loads and urban use, such as postal bikes.  It reduces the heavy handlebar flop experienced when making steering corrections at slow speeds.  The platform is made of recycled plastic in Minnesota.  To safely carry a dog, a custom carrier will be constructed of wood.

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Bars turn, but the load remains in position in front of the frame.

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Solid, simple attachment.  4130 steel.

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Wide-range 1×9 drivetrain, ideal for simple urban riding.

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Room for a rear rack, fenders and an internal gear hub (IGH) or single-speed wheel.

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And bigger tires.  This Kenda tread is 26×1.75″.

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This one is 20×2.2″.  V-brake rear, disc-brake front.

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Surly Neck Romancer Pugsley

Jeremy’s Neck Romancer Pugsley has finally arrived.  Of the Surly line of fatbikes– the standard Pugsley, Neck Romancer build, and the Moonlander– this is my favorite build.  It features 82mm Rolling Darryls, with weight-saving cutouts, a symmetrical 135mm from fork with clearance for Moonlander sized rims and rubber.  The fork is also drilled for extra water bottle cages or the Salsa Anything cage.  The Nate rear tire is also a winner for the immense traction it provides in the kind of situations that are inevitable on a fatbike: sand, snow, or steep.

Considering the other options: For ultra-soft conditions, the Moonlander takes the cake.  For all-season riding including winter commuting and summer exploration, I love the current Pugsley build (stock with top-mount thumb shifters and Marge Lite rims!).  The Pugsley is the best value in the fatbike market.  For the best of both worlds, this Neck Romancer is the ticket.  Technically, it is a Pugsley frame with a different fork and an upgraded build kit including wider rims.  And, it’s all black.

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The symmetrical 135mm fork leaves a lot of room for bigger tires and rims, as well as some mud.  One benefit of a symmetrical fork is that wheel builds are much less complicated.  Building fatbike wheels with offset is easy, as many rims are drilled with options for offset lacing.  All modern Surly rims are drilled with 64 holes for symmetrical or asymmetrical wheels builds with 32 spokes.  However, building 29″ wheels to the front of a normal (asymmetrical) Pugsley fork is a bit of a challenge due to the 17.5 mm frame offset.  It’s possible, but not ideal.  More on this in the next few days, as I am planning a 29″ wheel build for Joe’s Pugsley.

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Surly Mr. Whirly crank with the Offset Double spider and 36-22 chainrings, 11-36 cassette, 82mm rims, and Nate.

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Darryl (82mm) and Larry up front.  Jeff set these up tubeless without any foam or duct tape.  He simply cut a wide tube (20″ or 24″) into a rimstrip, mounted the tire and inflated it.  The tire mounted by hand and the tire seated without hassle.  Now, we have converted every bike in Surly’s line of “husky” bikes to tubeless systems– the normal Pugsley, Neck Romancer, and the Moonlander.  In nearby Santa Fe, Cass has even given the homemade tubeless treatment to his Krampus.  Two Wheel Drive has quickly become the fatbike shop in town.  Charlie was there the first time fat tires were en vogue, and he’s leading the town again.  This time, the rubber is twice as big.  It’s 1984 all over again.

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Direct mount dérailleurs save a bit of weight and complication over the e-type derailleurs of yesterday.

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This Surly Mr. Whirly crank is fully customizable from a single ring set-up to a full triple.  In this configuration, the rings sit further outboard than normal to accommodate a wide rim and tire in conjunction with a full range of gears.  This crank is a nice investment

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A lot of black, and barely there graphics.

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Another big gulp, out the door at Two Wheel Drive.

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For now, I’m at TWD on Tuesdays only.  Stop in for a visit from 10-5.

A Surly Man’s Rag (Surly Anagrams)

There’s a man in this town with a garage full of bikes.  Most of them are steel and many of them are Surlys.  A few– horses of a different color– have names never intended.  A heat gun and a steady hand allow for some anagrammatical tomfoolery.  The Big Donkey is a half-fat longtail that hauls solar panels and firewood into forest lands for hydrology studies.  The Karate Mummy is actually a push bike for a very small boy, who asks if he can put pedals on his bike.  The little guy has got some fancy clipless pedals exhumed from a parts box and he’s inspecting the would-be bottom bracket region.  A bike like this is meant to teach the balancing technique of two wheels; the rider shuffles along the ground as on a velocipede.  “Pedals?  It’s not quite that simple”, the Surly man explains.  Someday.

The Surly man, Nate, first appeared on my doorstep in response to a Craigslist ad for a fatbike tire.  The not so surly Nate rides a Big Donkey to which he has now mounted a 3.7″ Surly Nate tire.

The little black velocipede known as the Karate Mummy has a full complement of Surly decals including the “fatties fit fine” chainstay logo, “SURLY” on both fork blades, and a “Large Marge” sticker on the 12 inch rims.  It looks a lot like daddy’s green 1×1, which is actually a dinglespeed with two cogs and two chainrings.  Perhaps daddy’s rig should be named the 2×2 and the Karate Mummy be renamed the 0x0, for the lack of pedals and gears.  The Surly man might have to invest in a Surly Ogre to get two good zeros (0’s) for the project.

The Surly Man’s Rag is worth a read, where he is known as the Bike wRider.  Most recently, the fat-front Big Donkey teamed with a genuine Big Dummy for some dirt riding and hydrology studies.  My favorite posts feature Little wRider on the black 0x0 velocipede, aka the Karate Mummy.