File Under: The never-ending tweaking of bicycles Dept.
It’s been a long time coming, but ye old “hobo bike”, my 1992 Bridgestone XO-3 needed some drivetrain love. I held out for as long as I could to get the most life out of the extant stuff. This was not only done because I’m a Thrifty Connecticut Yankee (TM) that tries to pinch a penny as hard as I can, but because there are some other bike shenanigans afoot, a secret project that will be brought to fruition in the near future, but one I can’t divulge yet. But as things lag, I realized that yes, the XO-3 is still going to be the “prime” touring bike of 2014, and I was tired of the overgeared nature of the bike.
So I dropped it off at Velo Cult and let them do a bunch of stuff to it. The stuff done?
- Instead of a 50x40x30 triple crankset*, the XO-3 now has a wide-range 46×26 double. I haven’t had a “double” in a long, long time, and I had been intrigued to get this done.
- The rear seven-speed cassette is now 13-34, giving even more low to the low.
- A new chain, just because.
- And a new rear derailleur, a Shimano Altus. Yes, that’s not expensive derailleur. One of the things I want to avoid with this bike is making it overly precious and putting all “nice” parts on it. I believe in functional first, and hopefully not ugly.
I haven’t had much of a chance to ride it, but I’m impressed with the gearing. One big reason to go from a triple to a double was to simplify gearing. And I noticed that I was staying mostly in the “big” ring, the only time I shifted into the little was going up the notorious Alameda Ridge. I like not having to shift the front derailleur that much. And calculating the gearing, my high is just shy of 100 gear inches, the low just above 20, which will give me plenty of range, and a good low climbing gear for big hills.
And curse me and my tire addiction but yes, I got new tires as well. I got sick of the Continental Speed Rides flatting a lot (three times in as many weeks), so I got some Schwalbe Little Big Ben 700X40C tires. I know the trend is to go for “supple” performance tires that are the rage these days, I looked into the Compass and Soma ones, which look good and are supposed to ride great, but either option would be double the cost of the Schwalbes, and right now I don’t want to spend that kind of money for this bike (see above) The Little Big Bens are plenty plush and flat-resistant. The terra cotta color looks great, especially against the not quite blue, not quite purple color of the XO-3. (Let’s admit it: I’m a sucker for colored tires.) And also importantly, they have a sidewall dynamo strip, which those other tires lack, and the dynamo strip is going to be useful soon.
Beyond these changes, the only other things that will happen in the near future is a new front wheel (the current one is at the end of its useful life) and possibly dynamo lighting.
*What were you thinking, Grant?