Wednesday 1 October 2014

Shift up, slow down

Alrighty then, it has been a while.

I have wanted to move away from suburbia for a long while now, and had droned on to my wife for so long that I got an 'Ah just do whatever you want' response. As everyone knows this is secret woman code for 'I have a happy and enthusiastic acceptance of your charming if somewhat alarming foibles, and shall follow you to the ends of the earth my love'.

So we packed things up and moved 385kms away to Nelson.

So far this appears to be a pretty sound move, in the first week of residency we had so much good weather that I started to question why we had waited so long. The summers in Christchurch can be pretty good, but it is a rare day that has sunshine and does not have the Nor'easterly freezing your tits off. In Nelson we got a solid two weeks of calm sunny days before the more unsettled spring weather set in. I have high hopes for summer...

Not a bad place to stop midway through your ride...
One of the joys of Nelson are the cycle trails. From my doorstep I can do a 40km bike ride that has about 5% riding on roads. If I do choose the roads, there are awesome gravel basher loops on back roads that suit the Disc Trucker perfectly, then there is the Mountainbike trail network. I did a ride called the Coppermine on the Fatbike a few weeks ago, and it was just spectacular. If you ride nowhere else in Nelson, you should do this.

One other thing I have now is shed space....... a lot of shed space. 240 square meters of shed space, to be exact.

Ample Pogward shed space, yesterday.
This picture shows all of the things that I had in my garage at home, with the addition of a drum kit and a piano, and it comfortably fills up just one portion of my sheds, about 1/3rd of the total.

Yay for me.

So as I have the space and we have mostly settled in to our new life, I have resumed the bike building;

The beginnings of a fatbike for my lovely wife, small recompense for what she puts up with I am sure.
This frame I intend to TIG weld entirely, so I am borrowing a much nicer welder than mine off a lovely chap called Alex. This welder has HF start, pulse and a foot control. This is so I do not blow big holes in those expensive tubes...

One of the things I did before leaving Christchurch was to get rid of a lot of old bike parts. As part of this exercise I built up a bike to sell as I figured I might get more money that way, unfortunately the bike I built was so cool that I could not part with it. Bear in mind, I built this entirely from parts I had lying around, I did not even have to leave the garage...

An entirely convincing parts bike build and indifferent Burmese, sometime in July.
This bike now resides at work, where it gets a daily workout.

So there it is, and rest assured you can look forward to more exciting blow by blow accounts of the trials and tribulations of Pogward Framebuilding Enterprises, there will be more to come shortly....

Thursday 1 May 2014

Mist Green and Monstertrucking

So, having been pretty satisfied with the performance of the new forks in a wide variety of situations, and becoming pretty annoyed at how quickly the current weather was rusting things up, I dropped the frame off to my favourite powdercoating outfit on Monday. I checked in on it halfway through the week and while it was definitely coloured in the manner I wanted, it wasn't as industrial as I required, so we decided on another coat of clear matt.

This morning I picked it up and this is the result;

Green Mist is the colour of choice...
I forgot to tell the chap to keep the logo clear, I carefully removed this during the assembly
2 coats tends to smooth out my lumpy welds pretty well
Lit by the last sunshine of the day - 10.30am approx.

Clearly things couldn't stay in such a bare state for long, so a couple of hours later I had this result, and to be honest I am pretty stoked with it. It needs to be significantly dirtier than this but no doubt that will come about soon;

Deeply satisfactory.

So while the fatty was out of action I was hankering for a wee bit of off road action, and the nearest thing I had to a serviceable steed was my Surly Disc Trucker. The Trucker is my go-to bike for pretty much anything, and tends to be the one that goes on holiday with me as it is so versatile. I have done a fair bit of trail work on it in road trim and it does a pretty good job.

Last weekend I took it up the hill and on a few light trails, and it performed pretty well, given I had 60psi in its essentially slick Continental touring tyres. I got a few amusing comments from the people riding the same trails on mountain bikes.

I took the guards and panniers off for my hilltop excursions...
Now I have had a bit of a thing for cyclocross bikes over the last couple of months, there is something about the do-anything, go-anywhere attitude that they have that works for me pretty well. I am even sort of planning a new commuter/cx bike for some point in the future. In the meantime I got to thinking that the main problem with the Trucker off road was the skinny tyres, and apart from that it was pretty much already a cx bike. Inevitably I started measuring clearances and this happened somehow;

That, in my humble opinion, looks the absolute tits.

The tyres are WTB Nano 2.1's, and there is very, very little clearance to the frame. Still, my initial impressions of its off road capability are extremely positive....

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Fork it

I may have mentioned that I was not 100% happy with the forks on the Fatness, the biggest issue being the steerer tube flexing quite disconcertingly under load. This was because I used straight gauge 4130 where I should have used a proper butted tube. Various tiresome things have got in the way of doing anything about it, but now things have progressed.

One of the issues preventing progress is that I was really quite unhappy with where my TIG welding skills were at. I started the new forks a few weeks ago, but the welding of the crown parts to the steerer was frankly terrible, with lots of bubbles and voids and large chunks of tungsten thrown into the mix. I could TIG weld once upon a time, so why couldn't I do it now? This stalled things because I want 100% confidence in something as stressed as a fork and I fell into framebuilders funk.

As it happened I had ordered enough parts for two sets of forks, so a few days ago I decided to start in fresh on the second set. I did a few trial welds with the same issues, then decided to swap the tungsten from the recommended thoriated type to a ceriated one that came with the machine. What a difference! It was like coming home and settling in front of the fire with a hot toddy. And so I cracked on with super renewed enthusiasm. The skill is still not at the level it was when I did it for a job, but it is way, way nicer than it was.

Mitering in the fork tubes
Some slightly better then previous welds, yesterday. The next ones were much better than this.
All fitted up. I changed the design detailing a bit, the fork tubes are closer to each other for a start, this was defined by the Ceeway sourced plug in dropouts I used.
The fork is also taller to give a bit more vertical clearance. This slightly slackens the headtube angle, and I took a 10mm spacer out of the stem stack to drop it back to the previous height.
And I angled the fork tube caps and used flat sheetmetal instead of coins
Well, it is a fork attached to a fatbike. Time to see if it will work....
Yes, I have been riding some wet trails in the recent past. All trails in Christchurch are wet and will be for the foreseeable future.
So the plan is to ride it as it is for a week or two to see if there are any niggles, then strip it down for coating. The thin coat of primer is not really cutting it in the current conditions. I have been riding it a lot though.... including a trip with some fat friends to Hanmer.

In other bike related news I built this up for my eldest daughter - I got sick of buying crappy kids bikes and I figured this would last her for a good long while. I got it as a stripped frame and forks with wheels and brake calipers. By the time I bought a headset/BB/chain/cassette/hanger/derrailleurs/discs/levers/shifters/tyres it became probably the least economic option possible. But it looks sweet and will last forever. She loves it.

I also spotted these forlorn looking beasties in the woodshed, I will need to bring them inside for the winter I imagine.

In other, other bike related news I have a new set of tubes awaiting me in the garage. These are to make into my wife's fattie, which I may well TIG now, and looking further out I have plans for an updated commuter with disc brakes and much other secret goodness.

Saturday 8 February 2014

Upgrades and Downhills

It has been a few weeks since I have blogged, firstly there was the Christmas break to contend with and secondly I have been spending a lot of time actually on the fattie...this included a group ride along the beach from Brighton Pier up to Spencer Park and back. This involved a fair amount of dune bombing and general foolishness, plus some racing along the Burwood Forest MTB tracks. More pics and info on this trip can be found here (assuming you have twitface).

I have coined a new collective noun; A lard of Fatbikes.

I have also spent a fair bit of time at Halswell Quarry doing loops on the singletracks there while I got used to the handling and capabilities of the beast, and have also done the Rapaki/Mt Vernon/Vic Park/Bowenvale Loop a couple of times. The first time up Rapaki made it pretty obvious I was going to need more gears, it was a serious grind and I needed to stop a few times to make it up without puking. I calculated what I would need based on the Disc Trucker gearing and adding a 30 tooth front simply wasn't going to cut it. To this end I made an investigation into monster cassettes, in particular this beast;

This gives a 42 tooth sprocket at the expense of the 17 tooth in a 10 speed cassette.

The problem was the leadtime, they have sold out and will not be shipping until March. There is also a NZ option coming on line in the form of a nice looking CNC beast from Revolution Components here in Christchurch, but again there would be a bit of a wait.

I decided I couldn't wait and so this happened pretty pronto;

A Single Speed sprocket I had lying around, a laser cut BMX spider and a 42 tooth ramped front sprocket; jobs a goodun.
I initially screwed things together just to make sure of fitment and clearances.
The SLX cassette is 11-36 teeth, I needed to split the middle cluster and remove the 17 tooth sprocket. This meant drilling out the pins, shortening them and peening the pins over to lock the cluster together again.
Once I was happy that everything would work I tigged the sprocket and spider together.
All fitted up.
A wee bit of tweaking to the dérailleur and all was good. The shifting is just possibly not as smooth into the 42T as it is for the rest, but it gets into gear and stays there no problem. The proof is in the pudding though and I did Rapaki again with nary a problem nor a stop to catch breath - great success!

The only worry is whether or not the extra torque from the sprocket will chew out my extremely clicky Hope freewheel, but I will pull it off in a couple of weeks to see how things look.

In other news I have upgraded the brakes as well, some of the descents through Victoria Park on my first ride there made it clear I would need more stopping power - the unfortunate condition of my undies made this abundantly clear. The Avid BB7's work just fine on my Disc Trucker, but were not giving me masses of confidence on the Fatness. T'internet told me the best bang for buck was going to be Shimano SLX M675's. These were ordered from Chain Reaction on a Friday morning and were dropped off the next Tuesday... I did use the DHL option but still I am impressed. Nothing like instant purchase gratification to oil the wheels of rampant consumerism.

The brakes work exceptionally well, they are extremely confidence inspiring...

I cleaned and checked over the beast and took some pics today - this was after a hard core 2 hour session at the BMX track with my kids - a serious endurance test.
The XT dérailleur has no problems coping with the extra movement required.
Homebrew monster cassette in place and working sweet as bro.
Tidy install of the SLX brakes at the back.
And at the front.
Only marginally living suburban lawn, today
Mmmmm fatness.
So the only real issue I have come up against is the front forks; I used plain gauge tube for the steerer and it moves around more than I am entirely comfortable with. There is no sign of plastic deformation or breakage, but I think I will make a new fork with a proper butted steerer anyway, just for my own confidence. Once this is done I shall get some proper paint on it, as the primer is already showing signs of wear...

We had a family ride around Mcleans Island last week, I moved the seat around so my lovely wife could use this instead of the slightly less appropriate Mixte she usually runs - she liked it so much that I suspect the next build might be another fattie just for her....

Saturday 14 December 2013

Gears and Blackness

On Friday a little package arrived from Ceeway containing the cable tie brazons, so pretty sharpish the whole beast was stripped down and bits were stuck on with the hot glue gun. I was pretty excited, so I completely forgot to take any pics of this process sorry, I shall flagellate myself for my this oversight.

The drivetrain package arrived early last week and also got fitted up quickly, It took virtually no effort to get set up and has been working perfectly. It is still a pretty tight squeeze to the tyre when in the lowest gear, but it hasn't been rubbing or banging yet so I am happy. The gearing works pretty well in the real world. As a result of this I have been riding this relentlessly this last week, using the flimsiest of premises to go for a spin, and always with a massive grin. I commuted to work on it one day and even got three scalps, although I suspect this is something like the equivalent of a granny bike so anything is fair game. Unfortunately all this usage meant that the frame has been getting wet and as a result a fair amount of surface rust keeps appearing. I was getting bored with buffing it off all the time so I thought I would smash on some Matty B primer on it to marginally reduce the corrosion. This is the result, which I think looks pretty awesome, although it clearly shows up the extra work the fillet brazing needs. I am not sure that this will be the final colour though;

I silver soldered on a copper logo, then took to it with a hammer for a more industrial effect
The fillets are not too bad here, much worse elsewhere
The current Pogward logo
The fresh 1x10 drivetrain - SLX cassette, XT dérailleur and shifter
Many cable tie brazons were added. This also adds to the industrial effect
The coin definition is better now that it is all one colour
A single brazon for the front brake cable. I wrapped the cable around to the front as it was getting mashed against the back of the fork tube when it got near the downtube
The MattyB shows up flaws in the brazing pretty well. I will be able to see any cracks coming for sure
I thought this was pretty good, but it needs a fair amount of work on those fillets
I can see some hours getting used up here *sigh*
So this is pretty much it until after Chrimbo, I am tossing up whether I take this or the Disc Trucker on holiday, the trucker is more capable all round, but this is just so much fun...