The Return of the Bantam, and thoughts on October camping

Well, that took awhile. I dropped off my Bantam Rambleneur at the bike shop on September 3rd. My kludged-together drivetrain was not working properly, and I didn’t want another quick fix, since the same thing could happen again. I needed a new shifter in order to drop the stupid Wolf Tooth extra pulley, the thing that made it able for the derailleur to shift to all ten gears. I expected the part to take a bit, but not that long. Apparently what happened was that QBP, the distributor, shipped the part (twice!) to the wrong address. Y’see, the shop (North Portland Bikeworks) had recently moved. They updated their address, but QBP still shipped it to the old address. Yeesh. 1

I finally got the bike back on Sunday, October 3rd, exactly one month after I dropped it off. I didn’t have a chance to ride that day, but I took a li’l “after work” adventure on Tuesday. It had been a while since I had been to Mt. Tabor, so I headed up that way. Tabor is a great proving ground, as it’s got the climb to get there where I can test my gearing. The new Microshift bar-end shifter worked fine, and I had full range. The shifting didn’t feel as klunky as it used to, though I wouldn’t exactly call it buttery smooth. And while I did work up a sweat, the climb didn’t feel as bad as I thought it was. Maybe I’m not in as bad of shape as I thought?

Anyways, it was really nice being on the Bantam again. The bike just feels right, after all it is a handmade bike built to my specifications and designed to fit me properly. There were times where I haven’t embraced the bike as well as I should. But now I can safely say I’ve embraced this bike. Having fewer bikes sure helps.

After six years I don’t know if there’s much more that I need to do with the build of the Bantam, it’s pretty much to where I want it to be. The only thing I’ve thought about changing up is the drivetrain, which I honestly doubt I will. The bike was built around the idea of having an internally geared hub, but I’d need at least an eight speed hub to suit my touring needs. They aren’t cheap nor light, and it would be tough to get an appropriate low gear for mountain climbs. A Rohloff would be great, but for the cost of the hub itself I could probably buy a Brompton. Sticking with derailleurs, changing the single front chainring to a double or triple has crossed my mind. It would give me more range and gears, but it wouldn’t get me a low gear that much lower than what I already have.2 And it all would cost maybe a couple hundred dollars for a new crankset, front derailleur, shifter, and labor, a cost that doesn’t seem worth it for a few more gear-inches less in the low end.

Now that I have the Bantam back, I can go on a bike overnight. But after the initial enthusiasm about “getting one more in” before it gets too cold, dark, and wet, I don’t know if I will. I’ve got many things I’d like to get done this month, so I don’t have as much time as hoped. And that sun is going down pretty early these days, at around 6:30 PM. That’s a lot of night to deal with, a lot of lonely night. I don’t know if I’m in the right mindframe for that. There’s also the played out factor of most of my close-by options. The initial enthusiasm after being cooped up by pandemic got me over that, but that’s waned. Who knows, I may still manage to squeeze one in, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t.

1 Like most small-biz shipments, it was shipped via UPS. If it had been USPS, there would be an address change on file, and the order would get rerouted vs. returned. Another reason why l like the post office!

2 I’ve got a ten-speed SunRace with the largest cog at 40 inches. Using Sheldon Brown’s gear calculator I get a low of 22 gear-inches. Sure, I could get down to maybe 17 gear-inches doing a double or triple, but I doubt I’d really notice the difference that much.

5 thoughts on “The Return of the Bantam, and thoughts on October camping

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  1. That is a great bike! There is a rule that if you have a lower gear, you will use it…if you don’t you will use what you have. I think at some point, when you get below 20 gear inches, it is just too low to be useful and your better off walking a bit.

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