From one handsome mess

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One well-used piecemeal Raleigh XXIX+G steel 29er; one dusty proto 29+ frame with well-used tires; one day of madness making things work that ain’t supposed to work– one handsome mess.

We’ll talk some more tomorrow.  Thanks to Cass for the frame– it fits me just fine.  Thanks to Charlie for letting me make a mess at Two Wheel Drive in ABQ.  Thanks to Rusty for a week of consultation, of the most obscure kind– it isn’t easy to fit big tires and a wide range of gears onto a bike, for less than $30.  We successfully turned a load of used parts into a 29+ touring shredder.  Thanks all!

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19 thoughts on “From one handsome mess

  1. That must have been a lot of fun to put together. The route that the bike took to get to you by way of Cass, a Gypsy-infused, several hands involved build, and sprinkled with a bit of Albuquerque flavor seems to make it the perfect ride for you. Can’t wait to see what you do with it.

    • Andy, Not many people could appreciate the (dirt) wizardry I performed to make this drivetrain work, all in a day, all with available parts, which are mostly used. Just to get an idea: a 68mm square taper BB in a 73 shell, with 5mm of extra spacers towards the drive side; only 7 of 8 cogs used in the cassette, spaced away from the spokes; the wheel is dished a few mm to the left; and I was lucky enough to find an Acera e-type front derailleur in the parts bin in good condition, as a normal FD won’t reach. Oh, and the non-drive side crank does not match, as an older Alivio crank was used to clear the chain stay. Otherwise, its just a clean 2×7 drivetrain.

      • Glad you got all the Legos and Erector Set pieces to work together. Many lesser men have failed or quit. I keep a large spool of rusty wire in my panniers just in case. It’s great for attaching racks, repairing basket struts, and for temporarily attaching lights (until they fall off.)

        I’m in talks with Compass Bicycles to offer wire with just the right metallurgical compound. So far the talks are one-directional, but I remain hopeful.

        • Chris! There were several moments in the ‘imagining’ phase where it seemed the task was impossible with the equipment at hand. Compass Bicycles should pay more heed to your suggestions– I’ve been running around all summer with my rear Supernova light attached by baling wire, recently improved with the addition of a zip-tie.

          The Duck (brand) company also offers some useful budget attachment and adhesive solutions, which I’ve recently used to attach water bottle cages to my suspension fork. They might have ears for your brilliant ideas.

      • It only recently occurred to me, while rummaging through my vast collection of bike shop t-shirts, that clothes hangers these days are plastic. How many times in life have I solved some tricky problem using a re-bent wire coat hanger? A lot. But why did it just occur to me? I’ll tell ya: the drain in my bathtub is full of some kind of other-worldly gook that makes it not drain. Without a wire hanger I am at a loss how to get this stuff out of there. I only have one fork and I need it…it is a problem, to be certain. Anybody hoarding a stash of wire hangers? And where do you guys get baling wire? For that matter, what IS baling wire? Are all of you secretly members of the International Brotherhood of Hay-Balers? Can I join? Do they have t-shirts?

        So much to know and so little time…


        • Some research suggests that baling wire, used to contain bales of grass or hay “…is also known as “haywire,” from which the term “go haywire” arose, referring to crazy or mixed up from the wire’s use to fix anything in an ad hoc manner.

          Many of us are card carrying member of the Brotherhood, closely aligned with those that use duct tape, twine, zip ties, and beer can shims. We’d be happy to accept you, TJ.

          But first, you should probably tend to the drain in the bathtub.

    • Rusty and I noted that between the handful of square taper BBs that we could inspect, the 73mm units had a non-drive side cup with a pronounced shoulder at the end, that abuts the BB shell when installed, limiting how far it could be threaded. Most of the 68mm units lacked this shoulder, and can be threaded into the frame as far as the shell is threaded. The concept of using a 68mm unit in a 73mm shell occurred to me as I’ve installed (matching 68mmBB/68mmshell) a few non-drive side cups beyond the edge of the shell before.

  2. Nice! It’s always fun to work through tricky frame and component controversies, especially if you can do it with pieces laying around. Jealous of your ECR… with one week until we fly out, and the production ECR not yet on US soil, it appears that it won’t be my destined steed for this trip. I look forward to hearing your take on it…

    • Logan, I’m bummed the timing didn’t work out with the ECR for your trip to Africa. It seems that could have been a great way to explore the concept of 29×3.0″ tires for diverse touring, camping, and singletrack riding. What’s next on the menu for touring bikes? I suppose a set of wheels that share parts with Virginia’s Troll would be practical. Do you still have your Troll?

      • Yeah, I suppose the Troll would have been smart, especially being where 29″ tires/tubes are fairly nonexistent once away from metro areas in South Africa. I contemplated it, but I already had my Rohloff laced to Blunt 35 29ers, and was looking forward to rolling on big wheels (they take a little of the sting out of a non suspension setup). Plus I dropped my 26″ rim and broke it. So, I have an Ogre being delivered tomorrow…

  3. Congrats on the new rig. Contemplating a move to an ECR once they are available so will be interested to read your thoughts on the ride and packability. Also, what you think about going from front suspension to 29+.

    • What are you riding now?

      First impressions only right now, which are partly influenced by the 18 months I spent on a Surly Pugsley fatbike: big tires don’t truly replace the refined features of suspension. Necessarily, the 29+ platform is currently challenged by limited tire choice and no adequate suspension options (some Fox forks will work, barely; a modified Lefty; and some other less common forks). Aside from these non-technical considerations, I am excited to spend more time on the ECR.

      I also wish the BB was a bit higher, so that it would play better with smaller (2.3-2.5″) rubber, thereby increasing tire choice by dozens. This would seem to be a useful feature on a ‘touring bike’. Additionally, I love climbing chunky, rocky trail. We’ll see how the BB height plays out on singletrack and rough doubletrack.

  4. Good job with the frankenbike! Is this proto ECR any different than the production one (geometry or otherwise)? What does that real wheel consist of? Looks like a rabbit hole up front and maybe a 35mm in the rear? Super excited to hear your thoughts on this bike.

    • Brendan, This frame is nearly identical to the production model, which is finally planned to ship to dealers in the next week or two. This proto version is missing threaded seatstay rack bosses, an oversight which has been rectified in production. Otherwise, the color is different, and it is missing decals.

      Without time to order wheel parts (I called most of the shops in Santa Fe and ABQ), I will be rolling on my wheels from the Raleigh, for now. It is less than ideal, for sure, but it was important for me to put some time on this bike on dry dirt before flying to AK for the rest of the winter. Once in Anchorage, I’ll build some wheels with wider rims, and mount studs to the tires.

      I’ve got new tires in the mail, set to arrive in a few days. On such narrow rims, I’ll be careful about running pressures too low, to avoid rolling the tire off the rim, or damaging the rim by chance of a rock strike. For now, they are set up tubeless.

      So, Stan’s Flow EX rims front and rear, 29.1mm width (less than Surly’s 35mm recommendation, less than my desired rim width for this application). Tire profile and steering is a little funny. I’ll do my best not to mix this factor into my judgements. Likely, I’ll be riding the bike intermittently all winter, in addition to a proper fatbike.

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