It’s been a weird year for my Raleigh Crested Butte. Coming into 2014, not much had changed to its setup since I did a bunch of stuff to it after purchasing it in October of 2012. The switches were pretty minor: replacing tires a few times, replacing the old rack with a Wald Giant Delivery Basket, getting dynamo lighting than un-getting dynamo lighting. But the fate of the Crested Butte hung in limbo for much of the past year. I was pretty sure that I would be selling it at some point since my fleet of bikes consisted of too many all-rounders and I wanted to thin the herd pending the upcoming bike project.
But it all changed in fall, and now with 2014 coming to a close, the Crested Butte has become the “keeper” all-rounder while I sold the Bridgestone XO-3 to a happy person. I’ll be getting more into why the XO-3 rather than the Crested Butte in a future post. But because the Crested Butte was now the keeper, it encouraged me to change up things a bit. Changes that I actually was considering before selling the XO-3, but now easier to justify when I have less bikes!
Y’see, while I have enjoyed the basic setup of the Crested Butte as I had built it, I had been wanting to make it more mountainbikey again, to bring it closer to its roots without going full-bore mountain bike territory, whether “mountain bike territory” of the vintage or modern era.
The biggest change I wanted to make was handlebars. The cruiseresque Civia Dupont bars were nice, but I have swept-back bars on the Raleigh Wayfarer (Nitto Albatross), so I wanted to try something different, something a bit more “aggressive” yet not in full straight bar territory. I still have the original Bullmoose bars that came with the bike. I loved the look of the bars and wished I could keep them on, but they were too forward and too low for my liking. I briefly toyed with the idea of getting a stem riser* to give it more height, but it still might not work for me, and I didn’t want to go through all that work to have that happen.** So I looked at other options, and came to the decision of getting Surly Open Bars.
The things that drew me to the Open Bars are its chro-moly construction, North Roadish shape, and very generous width: billed at 666 devilish millimetres. Not too many bars wider than that, and I wanted wide bars for this bike!
I had been wanting to try some Ergon grips for awhile, so new bars would be a good opportunity. Because I’m me, of course I went for the ones with the composite corkish material! I like them so far, but still need to adjust them some more.
The new bars have given me more “real estate” in the cockpit area, so I decided to add another handlebar mounted bottle cage as well. I like me some water bottle cages!
I also decided to go back to dynamo lighting. You may remember that my bottle dyno setup was originally on the Crested Butte, but I decided to switch it over to the XO-3 when I thought that it would be the “keeper” bike.*** Sure, I could have switched the setup back to the Crested Butte, but I didn’t want to go through all that work again, and I’d rather just get a dynohub front wheel instead. Of course the “problem” with that is that there was nothing wrong with the existing front wheel (and a great one it is!) so I was loathe to replace it.**** (This is why it got a bottle dynamo setup in the first place.) But I bit the bullet and bought a nice pre-built Shimano Deore LX dynohub laced to a Mavic rim. And I pulled out the old B+M Lumotec LED headlight I had on the Long Haul Trucker before I sold it. (The amazing thing is the capacitor still held a charge, even though it hadn’t been used in a year!)
The final “big” change was new tires. I know, I know, I switch tires more often than David Bowie***** switches identities. And there was nothing wrong with the Rubena Cityhoppers that were on there. (To note: I still like the Cityhoppers.) But I wanted something more mountainbikish, maybe not full-on aggressive knobs, but something. Of course this would mean black tires, since there’s no colored options in the semi-aggressive tread varieties, not even gumwalls. (Believe me, I looked around a lot. If anyone can find some, let me know.) After a lot of back and forth, I decided on the Continental Traffic tires. Moderately priced ($30 each), with a knob pattern that leaves a flat ridge in the center with more pronounced knobs on the edges. Basically designed for mostly pavement use, which is what I mostly used them for. I haven’t felt any penalty on pavement and there is little noise. They did come in handy on the more mucky roads during the Chehalem Range Ramble. But they are not supple tires, my friends.
So the Crested Butte is more a mountain bike again. But a gentlemen’s mountain bike, since it still has bits like mudguards, Brooks saddle, Carradice bags, and front baskets. It’s been working good so far. I had no complaints during my Chehalem Range Ramble. Yeah, it ain’t a fast bike, but I managed the 60 or so miles of riding that day without much complaint. This is significant since I hadn’t really used the Crested Butte on long rides before, since I had other bikes that I would ride in the 40+ mile territory. But since the Crested Butte is really the only bike in this category for now, it’ll have to do! And there ain’t nothing wrong with that. Because this bike is fun.
*Bullmoose bars are a single bar/stem unit.
**I realize that Rivendell has their modern Bosco Bullmoose bars which seem the best of both worlds: bullmoose triangle with swept back grip area. The problem is it won’t fit my bike as it takes a non-standard 21.1 stem.
***It was also prompted by the fact that the front rack holding the headlamp on the Crested Butte had broke, and I managed to slice the wiring when I was uninstalling the rack.
****One of the greatest things about the original wheel (besides its pretty high-flange hubs) was the width of the Araya rim, a generous 1.75″, wider than most common rims.