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The Inbred 26 – Surly ECR crossbred

The Inbred 26 – Surly ECR crossbred

Riding one bike; I really planned doing this. The Trek Multitrack I own can take big tyres as well as a drop bar and I was going to use it for my daily commute to work as well as the odd bike trip off road. But then a wild On One Inbred frame appeared on ebay, and I had to have it.

The frame set was a bargain, never ridden and half the price of a new set. I found a donor bike with a crack frame for cheap as well and planned on using the parts to build the Inbred to safe money. It was still going to be a cheap bike, at least I promised myself. But the donor wheels were worn, the On One fork didn’t take racks, the cranks were beyond saving, and the chain and cassette needed replacement. The brake levers and calipers, derailleurs and shifters, and seatpost I salvaged from the donor bike.

So I accidentally build a new bike, more or less. But it is a bike with which I am really happy. It fits well with my style of cycle-touring, which is halfway between pannier touring and bikepacking to remote places.

Frame: Inbred 26, dropout/derailleur version, size Large

Fork: Surly ECR (447 mm axle-to-crown / a2c)

Front wheel: SunRingle MTX 29, with 32 Sapim Race double butted spokes and a Shimano XT hub.

Rear wheel: SunRingle MTC 33, 36 Sapim Race double butted spokes and a Shimano Deore hub.

tyres: Maxis Arden 26 – 2.4

Crank: Sunrace M9 with square bottom bracket

Rear rack: Bontrager Disc

Front rack: Nitto M18

On One Inbred -Surly ECR fork
On One Inbred -Surly ECR fork

 

Why your bombproof touring bike costs exactly 594 euro

Why your bombproof touring bike costs exactly 594 euro

A new touring bike for your trip around the world has quite a price tag. You want something bombproof and the big (and small) bike brands make you believe only the best is good enough. What’s more, they probably try to trick you into choosing for the latest technologies. But these technologies become a problem when you are in a country that runs a bit late… bike-wise. In this post I will show your perfect touring bike will cost you a fraction of a new bike, while not compromising quality, by converting an old school 26 inch steel mountainbike to a round-the-world touring bike.

1: The Frame (100 euro)
Frames can break, new frames as well as old frames. This often is a result of a collision or a fault in the fabrication process. If you look for a frame as a basis for your touring bike, have a look at old mountain bikes with the following qualities:
– Is made out of steel: this is easier to repair (weld) when something breaks while on tour. Look for the higher-end frames and chose chromoly frames over hi-ten steel ones. The higher the quality of the steel, the more attention is paid to the production process and the less likely faulty welds will ruin your day.
– Takes 26 inch wheels: these wheels are stronger than 28 inch wheels and more prevalent in faraway places, so easier to replace.
– Has eyelets on the front fork: this makes mounting a front carrier a whole lot easier.
– Has no front suspension: front suspension is another moving part on your bikes can break, and it has a negative influence on efficiency.
– Is in good condition: a visual examination tells a lot about how the bike has been treated. You don’t need to be an expert to discover rust and dents on the frame.
Candidates
– Giant Terrago: There is quite an abundancy of these bikes being offered second hand in Germany and the Netherlands. The 1995 – 1996 models appear to made of chromoly steel. Almost every model has eyelets on the front fork. Many are being offered for well under 100 euro. Look for the models with the grip shift gear levers; although they don’t get much love on the internet fora, they are pretty reliable and simple of design.
– There are plenty of late 80’s mountain bikes with mid-fork eyelets, but somewhere around the beginning of the 90’s, manufacturers got rid of them. You may opt for an older mountain bike but this would possibly mean you have to upgrade the gear and brake levers, and derailleurs. That is why I would suggest looking for mid-90’s bikes with at least a 7 speed cassette, grip shifts, and cantilever brakes, because you still can get cheap replacement parts for these systems. There are ways of working around the mid-fork eyelets, I will discuss this in the ‘racks’ section.

2: Rear wheel (150 euro)
The back wheel takes the majority of the weight of rider and his gear. Because, on a derailleur bike, the cassette causes for an asymmetrical wheel, the rear wheel is not as strong as the front wheel. To prevent broken hubs, spokes and rims on this weak link in your noble stallion, you want a strong rear wheel built by an experienced wheel builder. Get some advice from your local bike shop on whether or not to replace the front wheel too.
Tip: Go for a Ryde Sputnik rim, Alpine iii spokes and a Shimano Deore LX hub. Use your old rear wheel to practice the art of wheel building on. That might be a valuable skill on the road.

3: Crank and bottom bracket (20 + 16 euro)
To bombproof your bike, I believe using a square taper bottom bracket is the way to go. They are cheap and last forever. Tip: combining the Shimano BB-UN55 bottom bracket with the Shimano Altus FC-M311 Crank Set will give you a combination that will get you around the world without problems.

4: Cassette and chain (15 + 20 euro)
Of course you want to start off with a fresh chain and cassette. Before you chose the number of teeth on the biggest cog of your cassette, you might want to check if your rear derailleur can handle this. Find the number of your derailleur and google till you are sure. Also take in mind the front chain rings.

5: Cables and brake pads(26 euro)
Cables are prone to rust and should be replaced before your big trip. Doing this yourself is pretty straightforward; if everything works you were successful, if not, keep op on trying.

6: Pedals (30 euro)
Many old mountain bikes come with cheap plastic pedals. Tip: the MKS Sylvan touring pedals are strong and can easily be taken apart on the road if something goes wrong.

7: tyres and tubes (50 euro)
I have seen people doing just fine with all kinds of tyres. I used the Schwalbe Marathon Mondial tyres, which turned out to be a bit overkill in the end. The single puncture I had in 6 months is a testimony to this. Choose your tyres according to the amount of off-road you plan to do. Tip: a Schwalbe Marathon tyre will set you back about 20 euro.

8: racks (110 euro)
Don’t skimp money on the racks. According to a good friend of me, ‘it is nice if she has a great rack’. I never took him for a bike enthusiast. Anyways, give this part of your bike some attention, I have seen plenty of racks brake. Things to take into account:
– As you use a mountain bike, you might run into problems of your heels hitting the rear panniers. A solution would be carrying your stuff in small ‘front’ panniers on the rear and use a luggage roll on top. Tip: the Tubus Cargo rack (70 euro) has a wide platform.
– On the front, things are a bit more complicated. If your bike of choice of has mid-fork eyelets on the front fork, all options are open. If not, you have four options. 1) Have metal worker add eyelets; you risk ruining a perfect fork, might be expensive. 2) Install a new fork. You can pick up a new 26” fork with eyelets for as little as 20 euro, but I don’t know about the quality and you’ll need a new crown race installed too. 3) Use racks that don’t use mid-fork eyelets. Old Man Mountain makes nice front carrier but these can be a little expensive. 4) Use Tubus clamps (10 euro). Not the best looking option but I have never heard of any of these clamps fail (you can bring a back-up clamp for your own peace of mind). Tip: an affordable way that worked great for me was the Racktime TopIt made by Tubus (30 euro). I did not use front panniers with it, but it took my tent in a roll bag on top without any problems on even the worse roads.

9: the saddle
Calm your ass down! Take your new oldie for a spin and discover whether the current saddle is working for you. If not, do like everyone else and go with the Brooks B17.

10: tools (57 euro)
Crank extractor tool: 10
Bottom bracket tool: 15
Chain whip: 10
Cassette removal tool: 13
Mounting paste: 10

Here you have it, your bike that can take you anywhere. And because you build it yourself, you have learned new skills that are vital for your keeping your bike going.

Bike trip nostalgia; a Scottish adventure in the spring of 2015

Bike trip nostalgia; a Scottish adventure in the spring of 2015

From 30 April to 6 May, my girlfriend and I went cycling in Scotland. We planned on going from Inverness to Ullapool offroad, and back on the tarmac. And we succeeded.

Day 1: Groningen – Amsterdam – Inverness
I don’t like airports. I always have the feeling everybody knowns their way except for me. Luckily Suzanne, my girlfriend, is a good guide in these situations. Getting the bikes and boxes to the airport by train was difficult. And we had a lot of stress before we had everyting checked-in. In Inverness we asked a cab driver to bring the bikeboxes to the adres where we would spend our last night of the holiday, for cycing while carrying them would be dangerous. The host of our first night’s b&b was not very sure we could go from Inverness to Ullapool offroad, and now I began to doubt too.

Day 2: Inverness – Schoolhouse bothy
We had a nice breakfast and were only just in time to catch the train to Garve. We disembarked the train and headed north via the A835. The white mountains we saw from the plane dominated the landscape and we knew we had to find a way through them the coming days. We went right when our Garmin told us so, and headed to Loch Vaich. While we took a moment to enjoy the view over the valley after our first ascent, we met a Frenchmen who looked much more professional than we did. With next to nothing in terms of gear, he flew down the hill like a butterfly. I followed more akin an elephant, hauling 44 lbs of gear on my touring bike with skinny tyres (42-622 schwalbe mondials).
Down by the lake we had a lunch and we discussed our options, fearing our plan maybe was a bit too ambitious. We went on though, and managed to climb out the valley. The views were much more beautiful then we had imagined and even the light hail coming down didn’t bother us.

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We followed the Glean Mor upstream towards a place called Croick, and found refuge in the Church. Here Suzanne found a working radiator and we made some tea.

By then we knew our plans to reach the Schoolhouse bothy of Duag Bridge were feasible, but we soon discovered we were not going to get there with dry feet. We reached the bothy at seven, and found the Frenchman again. Only the smallest room was available to us, which turned out for the better for the small room warmed by our body heat and our camp stove. We spend a comfortable night.

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Day 3: Schoolhouse to Loch an Daimh
We had enough food with us to do another bothy and the plan was to take it easy this day. We followed the advise I was given months before when discussing the route with a guy from Inverness. We took the Corriemulzie track, which was beautiful.

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We then took a foot path north. On this path, cycling was impossible and pushing the bike became dangerous when on the left hand a ravine emerged. With the bike on my right and the ravine on my left I feared the bike might fall on me, dragging my in dephts below. Suzanne wanted to go back and by her voice I could tell she would not accept a no from me. Afterwards I was very happy Suzanne dragged my out my irrational reluctance to take the same way back.
We went back the same way, had lunch in the Schoolhouse again and set off to Knockdamph bothy via another path. The dreaded watercrossing of the Abbhain Poiblidh turned out to be easy and we soon reached a moist and cold both called Knockdamph; where even the newspapers wouldn’t catch fire. The night was cold, and the place was haunted.

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Day 4: Knockdamph to Ullapool
We left the bothy with little love lost. A backwind blew us west, and when we had to break going uphill wel knew: this is a strong wind. In Ullapool we soon found warmth and wifi in a hotel lobby. We called home to let people know we were ok, and we made a reservation at the youth hostel. There we found an employee visibly sorry to tell us we could not have a warm shower untill four o’clock. We killed time in Ullapool by eating fish n chips, checking out tourist shops and having a whisky.

 

Day 5: Ullapool – Dingwall
We took the A835 back to the east coast. First part was difficult with wind, rain and gradient against us. After some 8 miles the climbing was over and we entered the highland again. The landscape was wonderfull and the wind again in our backs. We had a nice lunch near Garve and became over-confident. We left the tarmac and went offroad again. The hill appeared to have not end. We reached a B&B with a superb view. I left Suzanne and cycled all the way down to get wine and beer. I was not going to enjoy the view with a glass of water!

Day 6: Dingwall – Inverness
We felt exhausted, spend a long morning in the B&B and took the train to Inverness. We didn’t like Inverness in the rain and soon cycled a wet and nasty route via the A96 to our last B&B. Our room was great had a stunning view over the bay.

 

Day 7: Inverness – Amsterdam – Groningen
Our host proposed to take us and the already boxed bikes to the airport. This saved us from a lot troubles. A quarter to nine we were at the airport and five minutes later our bikes and luggage were checked-in. The contrast with Amsterdam airport couldn’t have been bigger. We left the boxes in Amsterdam and had an easy trip to Groningen. The feeling we actually did it, this adventure, without any experience, was a great feeling. It was difficult at times but in the always the beautiful landscape pulled us through.

The Beast

The Beast

I like to go just about anywhere a bike could go. Tarmac, gravel roads, jeep tracks. And to get there, I figured I needed a fast bike to go the distance, and big tyres to cope with bad roads. Hence my creation; the beast

 

Frame: Cube Aim Pro 29er

Fork: Exotic aluminium rigid

Wheels: shimano lx hub, DT Swiss Alpine iii spokes, rigida sputnik rims

Drivetrain: shimano slx 2×9

Cranks: Shimano FC MT60 with 36 and 24 tooth chainrings

Brakes: Shimano LX V-brakes

Headset: Cane Creek 40

Stem: Xtreme Pro High Rise 40 (80mm)

Bar: Deda RHM01

Brake Lever: Tektro RL520

Gear Lever: Shimano Dura Ace 7700 9 speed (rear derailleur indexed, fron derailleur friction)

Bottom Bracket: square tapered 68mm case, 127,5 axle length

Seat: Specialized Henge

 

With the Cube frame I found a frame that is both light, cheap and versatile. It can take a rear rack, V-brakes as well as disc brakes. For all other parts, I have chosen tough over light, and simple over complicated. For me it is the perfect adventure bike.

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