Rebuilding, reimagining


Rebuilding a singlespeed 2008 16″ Raleigh XXIX as a 1×9 (32 x 12-36) with a gold anodized On-One Mary handlebar, Ergon grips, a new Velo Orange cartridge bearing headset, extra bottle cage mounts, a tenacious rider and not too much gear.  Birthday on Wednesday.  Lael on Thursday.  Acclimate.  Ride to the trailhead later this weekend.

I’d been searching Craigslist primarily for a used steel 29er, with or without suspension and gearing.  If you seek a similar steel 29er on the used market, consider Redline Monocog (SS, but replace sliding dropouts, has braze-ons for shift cables), Raleigh XXIX or XXIX+G (former is SS, replace derailleur hanger with Wheels Manufacturing 133 or Raleigh 5) , Surly Karate Monkey and Ogre (both have track style dropout with der. hanger), Salsa Fargo or Mariachi, Haro Mary, or On-One Inbred or 456.  Further, Voodoo, Jamis, Soma, Vassago, Niner and Spot all produce steel 29ers that passed through the local used market this past week.

I’ve got a Colorado Trail Databook thanks to Brad in Boulder.  I’m living in Fort Collins for the week, which is a real bike town where people ride bikes to get places.  Denver calls tomorrow with a meeting of the local Surly Owners Society (S.O.S.), which I equate to the B.O.B. group with more beer and fewer lugs.  Amidst bike repairs and writing, I’m hoping to make it to Denver to meet the bearded, tattooed owners of Surly bikes.   Otherwise, I’m fixing and riding bikes and staring at a Rock Shox Reba fork wondering if I should take it apart for preventative maintenance, and fun.

It’s time for an upright handlebar on the Pugsley and a used Surly 1×1 Torsion bar will take the place of the Salsa Cowbell.  I’ve considered a modern “mountain” drop-bar, but if your flatten and flare a drop-bar enough you get something like a Mary, Jones, Space Bar or a Carnegie.  The Surly Torsion bar has a 15deg sweep and is manufactured in Cro-Mo by Nitto; Lael’s gold Mary is 35deg and is in the mail for $20 from the new US distributor of On-One equipment from the UK.  On-One makes incredibly inexpensive frames in steel, aluminum and carbon, as well as some innovative handlebars (Mary, 35deg; Fleegle, 15deg; Mungo, mustache; and Midge, mountain drop).  A steel 26″ or 29″ mountain bike frame can be had for $200 or less.  Velo Orange thumb shifter mounts are the least expensive way to fit my Shimano bar-ends to an upright bar for easy, reliable shifting.  Friction thumb shifters are king when simple, rugged shifting is needed.  V-brake levers should be close at hand for a few bucks.

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20 thoughts on “Rebuilding, reimagining

  1. S.O.S. (what a perfect initialism for Surly owners. We all are calling out for help, or should be, aren’t we.)
    Would that be Big Dummy Daddy and his cronies?
    I’d be curious to hear more about Denver’s bike share program from him.

    That Raleigh should be a great bikepacking rig. Enjoy the big city.

      • I hope not to disappoint, as I’m equipped with neither a beard nor a tattoo. Looking forward to meeting you in any case. Sounds like you’ve assembled a great bike for Lael.

        BW, I’d be happy to share anything about Denver B-cycle. In fact, I think it would be fascinating to see if something similar could work in Alaska. Maybe I’ll have to seek out a research grant and make a trip.

      • Speeding trucks would have something to say about the success of a bike share program for the casual cyclist in Anchorage, as would winter. A Pugsley share program might be necessary.

    • Thanks Dawn. I spent the afternoon riding from Fort Collins down to Denver to meet some of the local bicycle community, including bike share program organizers and a guy with a PhD in bikes. Actually, his dissertation studies the local B-Cycle bike share program in great depth. Denver has been great fun, and is a wonderful cycling city.

      Riding out to the airport this evening to meet Lael!

  2. Happy birthday Nicholas. Love to follow your travels. The pictures are great. You have a real talent for writing and capturing the journey. Enjoy your independence and freedom while you can. This would make a great book. Let us know when you and Lael can find time to come home for a visit. Maybe mom’s birthday in October. She will be double nickels. Enjoy your reunion with Lael. Say hello to cousin Bruce. Love, dad.

    • Hey Dad, It’s nice to hear from you and Alex in the same day! I’ve had a great summer but look forward to the challenging riding ahead, which will spend more time away from roads in the uplands of Colorado, with much more singletrack. I’d like to make it home soon, but will probably finish out the season here first– at elevation, summer is quickly waning. Perhaps I will visit a little later this fall, although I’ve enjoyed the pattern of visiting in October. Double nickels is barely more than half-way, as the family’s genes will tell.

      I will send your regards to Bruce, who seems to be enjoying the Pro Cycling circuit that is currently visiting Colorado for the second year. The penultimate stage will finish near Boulder, which must be exciting. Thanks for the birthday wishes.


  3. Why not just run the Pugsley as a 29’er? The Geometry is similar to the K’Monkey and the Fargo. I just have two sets of wheels and switch back and forth.

    Just a thought.

    • Brian, The XXIX is for Lael, who flies from Paris to Denver today. For about $500, she will be riding a steel 29er with a Reba sus fork, and On-One Mary bars. The Marys are a definitive favorite, while both suspension and the 29″ wheel will be new to her.

      I will remain on fat tires but am planning to move to an upright bar, a 15 deg Surly Torsion bar, for greater leverage and control.

  4. Have a great Birthday. I am interested in your upcoming build in that I am converting my “do it all” road bike, Handsome Devil (like an LHT), from a standard 3×8 Sugino XD set up to a 1×9 with a 36t ring and a 11×34 9 speed.

    Are you planning to use a “chain keeper” in your build. I have heard various opinions on this, some saying that without a chain keeper there is a lot of chain dropping. Alan at Eco Velo built up a nice 1×9 using a Paul chain keeper a few years back and it looked pretty sweet.

    Enjoy your build

    • Ryan, I am excited to try the 1×9 as it suits Lael’s minimalism, which is becoming more pervasive. Inevitably there will be times when she will walk, as will I, but climbing those grades on a bike becomes a huge challenge, and is sometimes uncomfortable even with the appropriate “gears”. It sheds a little weight and complexity from the bike. I’ve definitely considered a triple or at least a granny but the current crank is SS specific, and Lael selected the 1×9 from the choices I presented to her. There are many experiments going here.

      My host in Denver last night rode several days of the CT recently on a Karate Monkey with a Salsa Enabler fork and fat tire up front. He had a lightweight set-up and a 1×9, which he said worked fine, and when he had to walk he probably would have walked with a granny ring. Sometimes, the bike is not the best tool.

      My bike is a blunt generalized approach to the generalized task of riding through seasons and across a continent, while Lael’s bike will be more specialized to the trail. Her bike (and minimal load) will be “better”, but such is the nature of my generalized approach.

      The Truvativ SS crank on the Raleigh XXIX has a chainguard on the outside, so I’ve ordered a cheap plastic chainkeeper for the inside, like this:

      The $10 N-Gear Jump Stop is also recommended:

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