Raleigh Crested Butte: Yet more tweaks to the endless tweaking bike

My Raleigh Crested Butte is my longest-lived bike. October will mark nine years of ownership. It’s the bike that really got me in love with vintage mountain bikes and 26 inch wheels with chonky tires. It also has become a “proving ground” of a bike: I’ve tried out several different configurations over the years as I experimented with setups. Over the past couple of months, I’ve been playing with the Crested Butte again. It’s now back to something close to what I had shortly after I bought the bike and “got it right”. Guess I did get it right back then!

One of the things I did was swap the front basket. I opted for a slightly smaller Wald 137. There was nothing wrong with the “Clem” basket I had on here before. It’s just that I’ve got a bag project in store, and the bag is designed for the Wald 137 basket. I already have the same basket on the Bantam. The whole big reason for the new bag and basket is luggage rationalization. I want bags that can be used on at least two different bikes, if not more. I’d like to get away from having unique bags that only work on one bike.* Luggage rationalization will mean I’ll need fewer bags overall, and I can switch bags from bike to bike much easier, without having to constantly switch out and repack my bags. (Sometimes I get a li’l jealous of the folks who only use panniers since those are easily switchable.)

For the Crested Butte’s basket setup I initially wanted to find a front rack and strap a bare Wald 137 basket (sans hardware) to it, sort of like I had the bike set up in 2012. The problem is there’s not a great selection of affordable front racks. I hoped to find another Blackburn MTF-1 rack like I had on there before, but it looks like they don’t make them anymore. None of the other affordable (around $50) racks excited me, and I didn’t want to go into the $100 and over category and get a Nitto. So I just opted for the Wald 137 basket with hardware, which costs about $30. Sure, the basket-on-rack setup typically places the basket lower, but why spend lots of money for that? A fancy rack makes sense on the Bantam, where I switch between basket and randonneur bag, but on the Crested Butte I’m never going to remove the basket anyway.

You’ll note that I switched the light to the right (drive) side. It’s not the standard seen in the US, but it still works. This was done so the cable would be shorter. Shorter cable means less potential issues.

Swapping the basket meant switching the front dynamo light setup. I had recently gotten a dynamo hub wheel for the Crested Butte, so everything was theoretically set-up okay. I transferred the light and wiring to the new basket, and…no light. WTF? Maybe I cut the wire? I installed a new wire, and…apart from a second of flicker, nothing. Ugh. This is the only thing I hate about dynamo lighting, the finickiness of setup. Dejected, I brought the bike to Clever Cycles. While they are not my go-to shop, they are currently the best shop when it comes to dynamo lighting. (I would have brought it to Velo Cult when that shop was open.) Turns out that wire was bad too, so they replaced it. It cost a little more than I hoped, but a) at least it wasn’t the light or hub that was bad and b) it saved me from pulling out my hair.

And another thing: Fiddling with the dynolighting made me look closer at the Shimano dynohub. Turns out that its output is 2.4 watts. Typical modern dynohubs put out 3.0 watts: 2.4 w for the front light, 0.6 for the rear.*** So this hub was designed for a “front light only” system. That’s cool because the rear light is battery powered anyway! So it all works out.

Oh yeah, I changed the seatpost. The seatpost self-destructed at the end of 2019. It got replaced by one with the same diameter (26.0 mm), but I sort of knew that wasn’t going to be the long-term answer. I didn’t want a repeat. The problem is these old mountain bikes used funky seatpost sizes, sizes not common nowadays. Velo-Orange sold a nice-looking and inexpensive Dajia one in the 26.2mm size, but it took a couple months for it to be restocked. I was concerned that it might not fit, but sure enough, it did! Now I can ride my bike without this nagging worry in my head.

There’s a few other bells and whistles: Firstly, the bell. I replaced the giant brass ding-dong bell with a smaller Crane rotary bell. It’s smaller so it fits on the busy handlebar better. Speaking of busy, I strapped a Yellow Haus WunderSac v4.0 bag to the stem and bar. This is a nice little canvas bag meant for quick and needful things. It often has a camera in it (like the Olympus XA2) and since this is pandemic times, it also holds a mask and a bottle of disinfectant spray.

The stick-on Rivendell patches do a good job of covering up the ugly logo.

And I also found a generic “Bushmaster” triangle bag to put on the frame. This style of bag was sooooo common on mountain bikes in the 80s and 90s (heck, my crappy Huffy from Kmart had one) but has fallen out of favor the last couple of decades. I don’t know why: they are useful! And you’d figure that since fancy frame bags and other small “hard-mounted” bike bags have become popular again (see the WunderSac above) you’d be able to find some small bagmaker making them. But I searched high and low and couldn’t find one.** Thankfully some online seller had a stash of these bags, so I got one for cheap. That’s okay, not every bag I own needs to be exquisite and canvas, especially if it’s going to live on the bike 24-7. And why a triangle bag? Well, it’s a convenient place to keep the locking chain, a spare tube, and perhaps a saddle cover, stuff that’s unique to this bike.

And that should do it for now. The Raleigh Crested Butte is primarily set up as an around town utility bike, a “commuter” if I did commute. When I add my Carradice Camper Longflap to the saddle I can do some light shopping, and even do a bike overnight if I want to. Hopefully that can happen soon!

*There will be exceptions. I’m intending to keep my nice North St. Randonneur bag, even though the Bantam is the only bike it can work on.

**This is of course where you tell me that x bagmaker in y city has been making custom triangle bags for z years. Thanks! Also, Jandd looks like they still make one, but for the past year it’s been “out of stock”.

***The original Sturmey-Archer Dynohub brand dynohub, which I have on my Raleigh Superbe, only puts out 1.8 watts. Since I use modern LED lighting it’s not that big of a deal.

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