The return (of sorts) of the Crested Butte. And a coffee-typed ramble.

The thing about owning several bikes is you end up riding one for an extended period of time, and unless a particular need arises for a specific other bike, you have to make the effort to switch bikes. Take, for example, my Raleigh Crested Butte mountain bike, a bike I have owned for just about two years now. I don’t think I had ridden it at all this summer, as the XO-3 became the “go-to” bike for everything. (The Raleigh Wayfarer had been away all summer and the Rudge barely ridden.) Come September I thought about selling the ol’ Crested Butte as part of a culling of the herd. But I figured I should ride it around a bit before I did that, as sort of a “goodbye” period.

But of course, riding the bike made me rekindle my love for it, so I decided to put any plans of selling it on hold, until at least there was a real need for letting it go, say buying another bike. (Or I’m flat broke.) Anyways, the Crested Butte has the fattest tires (26″ x 2″) of any bike I own, so I can’t give it up until I get something else with tires like that.

But after riding it for a week or so, I realized what had to go: the basket. Oh, Wald Giant Delivery Basket, you carry so much, but weigh so much too. I decided to replace it with a front rack, again.

15404459181_66f718ce1c_bYes, the venerable Blackburn MTF-1, the same rack that was on the bike before the basket, the one that broke. This is the one I got as a warranty replacement. It’s basically the same as the one that I used to have, with two notable exceptions: its black, and the tubing is beefier. No basket to strap to it for now, but I’m sure I will add something soon.

Riding around with just the rack after the Giant Delivery Basket is like night-and-day. The front end feels so light and responsive. It’s like I have a low-trail randonneuring bike all the sudden.* Where’s my Seattle Randonneurs jersey? So little weight up there. I’m popping wheelies on steep hills.

While I don’t want to be one of those people who is neverendingly changing and transforming their bikes,** there is a particular joy in mixing shit up on bikes one owns. It does bring a certain amount of freshness to the overall experience. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it feels like a “whole new bike” or anything, especially since the fundamentals of the bike have never changed in the two years I’ve owned it. But stripping the giant basket makes it feel a little closer to its roots.

15414148072_718eb83739_kSo I decided to take a little ride on Wednesday. I decided to ride up to Rocky Butte, my favorite viewpoint in Portland and a spot that I hadn’t been to in awhile. Initially I had more ambitious plans, like going out to Powell Butte before it gets muddy. But a lack of energy meant that Powell will have to wait. The day was a good one, a nice early-fall day with temps in the mid-60s, and partly sunny. The view atop Rocky Butte was great, though the clouds obscured the big mountains like Hood and St. Helens. And since the Coffeeneuring Challenge is starting next week, I decided to get some coffee outside practice in and make sure the Esbit Kaffemaschine is up for the task. No worries, it is.

15227810610_75bd56ab2c_kI’m happy to have the Crested Butte back in active duty. It is a fun bike and the bike that made me love fat tires. And it’s one of the few used bikes that was pretty much “complete” when I got it, meaning I haven’t done a lot of changes to it, since it didn’t need them. (The Raleigh Wayfarer and Bridgestone XO-3, however…) I’m not going to have this bike around forever, but it’s going to stick around for a little bit longer at least.

*Yes rando-bike aficionados, you don’t have to mention how high-trail the Crested Butte is.

**”And you aren’t, Shawn?”

9 thoughts on “The return (of sorts) of the Crested Butte. And a coffee-typed ramble.

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  1. Glad to see the Butte back in action. For your current “one bike” choice, which would it be? The XO or the CB?

    As for bike handling, there is a lot more to it than numbers and frame geometry, as you discovered. Many people often overlook the effect of stem and handlebar dimensions, luggage, and overall loading. For instance, a narrow bar on a modern trail 29er will feel slow, and you’re likely to steer wide in corners. A super wide bar as I am currently using does the opposite, providing much needed maneuverability in technical situations, while the high-trail geometry of the bike remains super stable on dirt road descents (largely independent of stem/handlebar). Now, removing a giant Wald delivery basket from a bike, that must feel like flying!

    1. Yeah, taking the basket off has definitely improved things!

      I’ve had a small internal debate about replacing the bars on the CB to make it more “classic mountain bikey”. I still have the stock one-piece Bullmoose bars. They are cool, but I remember them to be too low and too stretched out due to the long top tube. I could theoretically get a stem riser, but do I want to go through all that trouble, only to find out that yeah, it’s not that comfortable? While the Civia Duponts look more “cruiser” like, they’ve been comfortable for the past years. I probably shouldn’t try to fix what ain’t broke.

      As for the “one bike”, it depends on the day. Though I probably should get one of those “one bike” things soon…

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