Just another steel touring bike

Nicholas Carman1 37

Mostly minor refinements over other bikes and ideas, I’m finally honing the concept in cold hard steel, carbon, titanium, aluminum, leather, and most of all, rubber.  These tires are not by design, but come out of a pile of used rubber, for now.  This bike will not be wearing 3.0″ tires, although that capacity is built into the design.

There are a few more details to finalize the project, including luggage, another wheel build, tires, and some decisions about how to make the most of the SP dynamo hub.  Until then, this idea rides, which is always better than an idea that doesn’t.    

30 thoughts on “Just another steel touring bike

    • Are you guys using the dyno hubs for something other than lighting – like charging electronics? I haven’t had to do much night riding on tour.

      Around here I can’t even test a bike light from May through Sept unless I want to stay up crazy late. Days are too long.

      I’m just working on a new commuter bike and facing the quandary of building a dyno hub wheel or not. Pushing a dynohub around 6 months a year when I don’t need it isn’t all that appealing.

      OTOH – it’s useful in the winter and for the odd night ride.

      Two wheel sets would be ideal, but expensive.

      • Vik,

        I use the dynamo to power an eTrek20 full time, and to power Supernova E3 lights front and rear. I alternately use the USB power to keep my basic cell phone charged and to recharge Lael’s Cygolite Metro 300 and Hotshot lights. I’ve also experimented with using a larger cache battery that can be trickle charged all day, and has an option for 1amp and 2amp out put, enabling charging of larger devices like Lael’s Nexus 7 tablet (requires 2 amp).

        I appreciate having full-time lighting when on any trafficked route, day or night. We do more night riding than you may expect. We aren’t often plowing down the trail at midnight, but we may hang out in town until late to catch a concert or have dinner and people watch, and then head for the hills after dark. We did this quite a few times last summer. As fall approaches, the lights find more use. We may be traveling through late-summer, fall, and winter this year.

        Personally, I don’t mind pushing around a dynamo. For an in town-commuter, rechargeable light are still a great option, especially with multiple bikes involved.

    • Tom,

      The quandary is only about which kind of lighting and charger to use. I really like a headlight that is mounted to the fork crown, rather than from the handlebars. I think the angle makes the most effective beam pattern, and avoids the negative effects of lighting up one’s handlebar load and reducing the quality of night vision. I mounted a light to the stem bolt on my High Sierra many years ago, and the overflow light onto the top of my handlebar bag detracted form my ability too see beyond the beam and into the shadows (much like having a light on inside a dark car on the highway).

      But, mounting a light to the fork crown of this fancy new fork might require some drilling, which is much easier to stomach on a used Reba, for instance. Also, I may be altering my luggage system a bit, and may carry a little more from the bars. The light from the fork crown, in conjunction with my preferred lower handlbar position, may not leave room for light mounting at that location. This leaves creative mounting from the arch (drill or clamp?) or from the left lower leg of the fork (clamp?).

      Finally, I’ve considered bringing some of the smaller USB rechargeable 250-500 lumen headlights that we’ve used this winter. I could keep them topped off from the hub, and turn them on when needed. In fact, while I have always used wired lighting, Lael has been using rechargable lights for a few years. Last summer we charged her Cygolite Metro 300 off my hub. It worked well.

      I woud miss full time lighting as I probably wouldn’t choose to use rechargeable lights on daytime road sections, but it opens up the possibility of helmet mounted lighting as well, which would be ideal for any nightime trail riding.

      Finally, I’m looking at the BM USB-Werk again, or the Bright Bike Revolution charger. I hear great things about the Bright Bike, but no-one has given any indication about the capacitor in comparison to the USB-Werk. After a bit of riding, my eTrek20 would continue to operate for about 20 minutes from the small charge remaining in the USB-Werk. This is an indication of the amount of power/charging time stored in the device to bridge the gap between sections where power from the hub is weak or intermittent. I’m leaning towards another BM device. The last one got tangled in my front wheel and damaged a cable. I cut the box open and soldered it back together and passed it on to Josh Spice when he bought the ECR. He said he would reseal the box and give it a try.

      I’ve been digging your new bike! Andy does a fine job, doesn’t he?

      • Nick
        Andy’s frame building is extremely fine! Life’s been busy recently so I’ve only just managed to get out again on the trails in 29+ hard tail mode. I was able to push things a bit more – with greater familiarity – and the bike just lapped it up.

        I have a Sinewave Revolution coming, but the biggest hole in the system is charging camera batteries. Maybe the E-werk would be a consideration to get 12v output more easily…. I’ll work on that one.

        Lighting – I currently commute using a set of Ay-Up lights so it’d be quite an investment to mothball those. Since I very rarely cycle tour after nightfall and the SP hub is for the fat guise of the Peirce, it’s less at the forefront of my decision making. I’ll mostly use the hub to charge navigation and communication gear to start with.


        • I have the usb-werk on my rig right now, and while it works okay, but can’t seem to put out enough amperage to actually power an iPhone, so I have a trickle charge going into a Goal Zero Guide 10 battery that I think puts out 2amps (I can charge my iPad off of it when home). Plus it works well as a charger for AA and AAA batteries if need be. FYI on the camera front, the USB-Werk does create enough power to charge my camera… It’s a smaller sony P&S but still…

          • Scott, are you running lights on the bike? I’ve found that lights and USB certainly don’t work with each other, and something loses power. I’ve never operated an iPhone from the USB-Werk. I’ve charged an iPod Touch, which was turned off at the time.

          • I’ve been thinking that I’ll just make sure I have a sufficient supply of charged batteries to cover the likely gaps in between mains power. I did a trip last year where there wasn’t external power for a few weeks, and if/when I do another like that maybe I’ll rethink a solution to being able to take photos without rationing battery life… (rather hungry Olympus EM5)

      • Also meant to say that there are a few people doing 3D printed solutions to bike light mounting. Kerry from k-lite.com.au being one I’ve had good dealings with.

      • Will the old trick of ramming a star-nut into the bottom of the steerer tube not work on tapered steerer tubes? Cause that would be my preferred solution for a crown-mounted headlight on a suspension fork.

        • Skyler, I’ve tried this on a suspension fork and the reason it will not work is that at full compression, the arch will be in front of the crown, and on some models, the tire may run extremely close to the underside of the crown or even contact it. I believe that when I had a Knard in my Fox fork, while it fit in the arch, it rubbed against something at full compression, which may have been the crown. On a suspension-corrected rigid fork, this is a very nice way to mount a light.

          The best way to test is to simply let the air out of the fork and compress it.

          Thus, I’m stuck with drilling the crown, using a band clamp of some sort on the left leg or from the arch, mounting from the handlebar, or using a smaller USB-rechargeable light from the handlebars/helmet.

          As soon as I decide to adopt this fork for its forseeable life, I’ll drill it, I think. I’m not worried about damaging the fork, but resale could be a challenge. Probably voids the warranty, you think?

  1. Can’t wait for you to post the build. I just picked up a krampus f/f/hs for the proverbial song and am excited as all get out for a new summer ride. what chainring setup do you intend to run/will it work with the knarlys?

    • Great new on your Krampus. I’m using a Shimano Deore double, currently 38-26 (that will change). I’ve heard that an XT double crank will clear a Knard of 45mm rims, so I assumed the chainline is the same on the SLX and Deore models. I’m using 35mm rims, and won’t be using a Knard right away, so it is not a huge issue. But, I’m hoping it all works out for the future, because Knards are a ton of fun.

  2. Nick,
    This is the last day of my ‘shake down ride’ on my Krampus in Spain. Tried to do a bit of the GR7/E4 long distance walking route through the Sierra Nevada. Thanks again for your advice btw!
    I use a LM2596HV adjustable power supply module combined with some diodes and a capacitor to charge my smartphone from the PD-8X. It worked out pretty good, but I cannot give you any comparisons yet… It gives me a supposably (I got me some advice from an electronic engineer) pretty efficient ajustable power supply for under 10 bucks, but I had to do some soldering myself. When I get home I can try if it will charge my nexus 7 too… anyway probably too late for you though…

    • Not too late for me, although I don’t feel confident designing the system myself. I can do the soldering though. Let mw know how it works out, and possibly share more details of the plans, if possible. Otherwise, I’ll get another B&M USB-Werk. It worked very well for me, until I snagged a power cord in the wheel. I repaired the unit and gave it to a friend.

  3. Gypsies,

    Just a thought for your wired needs

    The Sinewave/Bright Bike Revolutions thingy is insanely overpriced for what it is. Horrendously! It’s such basic electronics! Albeit nicely put together electronics. But sadly there’s very little choice otherwise. That’s why I’d suggest…
    I use the U version of this lamp which has the Sinewave built in


    It’s pretty darn nifty. Have a read of Peter White’s summary of it too. The handlebar switch is really fantastic. Also allows you to flash oncoming traffic. Plus it’s array of led notification lights are a really nice feature. I too have to mount the light on my handlebars using a SON mount. The elegant looking one they do. It’s good and I can also swing it from side to side easily. Nice feature for reattaching handlebar harness etc…
    The cache battery is really nice on the headlight and works beautifully with my extrex. Phone too. Though entirely sure if it works with phone switched off. Oddly I haven’t checked this yet, despite being 2000km into my trip back home. I did try once and it didn’t do anything BUT the phone was totally dead at the time and so this might have prevented from charging as it was in such a deep sleep. Phone is always on however for the Google map cache…

    I also switched to the B&M rear seat stay mount dynamo light

    Pretty nice but could be better in that it’s not quite as synchronised and integrated and intelligent as their top lights. But light is good and to finally have a dynamo rear light that does not rack mounts is lovely. I view Supernova as sort of the Apple of dynamo lighting as they’re not very compatible with other brands. Their very convenient handlebar mount doesn’t work with B&M lights btw… Grrr

    Finally what might be really useful for you
    Check out http://www.portablepowersupplies.co.uk

    I have their Crystal 4 USB socket charger and it’s amazing. I’ve been mainly charging my phone, ereader and ipod in cafes and it’s the business for this. Also has the fast ipad charge socket if you get one of those.

    I’d suggest trying one of their 7W or even 11W dual solar panels perhaps? Very nice and light, much expensive than goal zero and far less crappy gimmicks attached. They also have wonderfully clear descriptions which is so refreshing. Plus get the voltage meter to set up panel properly.

    Maybe set the panel up in the night so it catches the dawn sun? Ha, imagine if moonlight charging were possible, wouldn’t that be nifty?
    I wouldn’t want a panel strapped onto my seat bag so much but maybe, on top of Carradice might be better but generally the less tied on and hanging off the cleaner the ride.
    I imagine you’re trying hard to work out how not to take the Carradice however
    But a panel would be good for those non-cafe dawdling and non-riding times


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s