Sunday, July 26, 2020


Lots of posts here about selling.  Starting in August we need to agree to post more about riding.

Front was the "Flamme Rouge" setup.

 Just sold my Hed Jet 4/6 wheelset

I had these Hed wheels from many years ago, and like so much in my bike closet they were a functional Ship of Theseus - with all parts replaced, are they the same set I originally bought?  It was a nice riding wheelset that looked good when mounted.  But:
  • I'm not riding any rim brake bikes these days;
  • I had broken a spoke on the rear;
  • They were a 10-speed hub, which doesn't work on anything I'm riding.
Also, I have too much stuff, which is kind of the general point of July 2020 at Huffman Bicycle Club.

I listed them for $250 and sold them for $200 plus a six-pack of Fat Tire.  Joe, who bought them, is a really nice guy.
C2 - Hed went to wider rims before much of the industry.  By "wide" we are talking 19mm internal width.

I disclosed all the flaws

To the extent they weren't obvious, I disclosed the flaws.  The real problem was the broken spoke.  I put a new one in, but it needs tightening and truing.  I personally never continue with wheels when the spokes start to go.  No reason except that the cost of wheel upkeep is greater than the cost of new wheels.  If you look around you can find a set of Heds with basically no use for under $1000.  Starting down the road of taking these into the shop on a regular basis, Joe may find himself at $1000 in a few years time.

So should I have sold to Joe in the first place?  Am I just passing junk on to the next guy?  I'm inclined to think that a full and fair disclosure, which I make in all cases, is all that is required. 

But what gets me is if Sam wanted to buy these, I'd probably tell him "keep looking."  Didn't Joe deserve the same?

e-Thirteen 12-speed cassette

UPDATE with short ride review

Day 1 didn't work because the battery was dead in my Eagle RD.  (Had a nice ride on the road bike, however.)  Yesterday I rode the 3T with new e-Thirteen 12-speed, 9-46 cassette installed.

An aside about tuning (not about the cassette):  A few miles of working out the tuning with Sram's microshift tuning was surprisingly easy.  One question:  isn't this something an electronic derailler can accomplish on its own?  Wouldn't technology permit a new cassette install with auto-tuning?  I am imagining a "tuning mode."  I put bike on stand.  Start tuning mode.  I stand there and rotate pedals.  Derailler auto-shifts through 12 cogs a few times and makes the necessary adjustments. 

Once tuned, the cassette worked quite smoothly.  The shifts feel a touch harsher than a Shimano Ultegra, my ordinary comparator.  But crisp.  The cassette pulls smoothly in 11 of the 12 cogs.  (I never did work out the tuning in the second-to-inside - 39 tooth - cog.  Inside and third both work well, so I think this is a question of fiddling.)

Compared to the PG-1230:
  • PG-1230: 11,13,15,17,19,22,25,28,32,36,42,50
  • e-Thirteen 9-46:  9,10,12,14,16,18,21,24,28,33,39,46
This cassette eats up the small jumps at the very top end (1-tooth difference 9-10.)  That means both this and the PG-1230 are 2-2-2-2-3-3 in the range that is primarily being used for road riding. 

Comparing the Sram 10-50, which is really the like-to-like comparison:
  • XG-1275: 10,12,14,16,18,21,24,28,32,36,42,50
  • e-Thirteen 9-46:  9,10,12,14,16,18,21,24,28,33,39,46
Jumps at 1-2-2-2-2-3-3-4-5-6-7 and 2-2-2-2-3-3-4-4-4-6-8.

The real difference seems to be at the low end, where Sram goes 4-4-6-8 and e-Thirteen goes 4-5-6-7.  I would think that would make moving into lower gears a more natural feel on this cassette, with the range not changing dramatically all at once.

Maybe so.  I did have use for 11 of the 12 cogs, only shifting into 9 teeth once to see how it felt.  How it felt was heavy, because I was on flat ground.  More rides needed!

In short, for the purpose - higher top end, higher bottom end, slightly closer shifts, lighter weight - the e-Thirteen has promise.  I see it is now $195 at Jenson USA (as of 29 July), so that's something.

ORIGINAL POST RESUMES:  Swapping cassettes

The Sram PG-1230 11-50 cassette that came from the factory on the Exploro has not pleased me at all.  It is heavy, gearing is a low 4-1 top end (when matched with the 44-tooth 1x on the bike), and the  bottom end at 50 teeth is lower than I need.  So the PG-1230 will stay for real trail use, until I upgrade this wheelset to a lighter-weight 650b from Hunt and the cassette to a lighter-weight 10-50 or so, but I've been looking for a better option to mount on my Hunt wheelset for general road and dirt.

Sram PG-1230 cassette came stock on the $5900 Force/Eagle e-Tap build.  Hmmm.

(What's wrong with too low at the bottom end?  It is easy to take advantage of this and find yourself climbing at 4 mph a hill you might otherwise stand and climb at 8 mph.  It also creates big jumps, which is annoying if your primary experience is riding 11-25 11 spd cassettes.)

Frustrating thing about Sram's offerings: the Eagle derailler here, which integrates fine with the Force gravel group, is not effective at shifting the Force 10-33 cassette.  Although a 10-36 is apparently out (though not available for purchase as best as I can tell), that also is supposed to be a bad fit with the Eagle RD.  All this means there is *nothing* in the Sram line that bridges the road/mountain gap.  (Shimano has done this better with the GRX group, which shifts 32 tooth and 46-tooth cassettes with equal aplomb.)

Failed experiment

I nonetheless ordered the Sram Force 10-33 cassette, it was wonky with this derailler, I sent it back to Backcountry. To Backcountry's credit they issued the refund.  Backcountry's return policy is ambiguous to say the least.  Used and undamaged gear can come back for store credit.  What about an item, like a cassette, which when used is necessarily damaged?  Backcountry's policy continues, "we will not accept the return of products damaged due to negligence or abuse."  I was not negligent and did not abuse the Force-1270 cassette, so I sent it back, and BC refunded me.

What else?

Back to the drawing board.  There seemed to be two options: 
  • Rotor makes a 12-speed cassette at 10-39 for a mean $385.  I have not yet spent >200 on a cassette - actually, not sure I've gone over $100 before - so this was a really tough pill to swallow.
  • e-Thirteen makes a 12-speed cassette at *9-46 for $299.  Marked down to $199.  With a 11-12 speed conversion kit for Sram.  
I went with e-Thirteen.  The reviews were great, the price was right, and the gearing was pretty good.  After all, 44-9 is a higher top end than 53-11, my prior highest high gear.  My drive-train was already 12-speed, so I didn't need the conversion kit, but the cassette without the kit was $10 more at $209.  (That's a computerized pricing algorithm for you if there ever was one.)

Now to mount on my Hunt 700c wheelset, which I envision serving the "road" function for this all-rounder of a bicycle.  The e-Thirteen technology is a little unsettling at first.  This cassette takes an XD driver.  The cassette is in two pieces.  Piece 1 fits by pressing into place and tightening a 3mm allen bolt to hold it.

You then add the outer section, the remaining 9 sprockets, which tighten to attach using a chain whip.
10-speed chain whip on 12-speed cassette.
That attachment is secured with another allen bolt.

1 nm is a little odd when there is loctite on the bolt.  I am past 1nm just getting the thing to turn!

Bolts came pre-loctite'd, of course.  Given the generally linear forces on a cassette, one shouldn't worry.  But what if one of those allen bolts comes loose in the chain?

Cassette looks good installed and bike looks good with road wheels in place.

With the 9-speed cog I either needed to drop a link or to drive the derailler adjustment screw in a little.  I did the latter.  Shifting is pretty smooth on the stand.  Hope to ride today to get a fuller picture.

Friday, July 24, 2020

To All The Bikes I've Loved Before

It's been a great Spring to sell old bikes on Craigslist. A local bike shop that normally has 2000 bikes in stock currently reports having about 200. Online retailers are similarly short of stock. Shortages are a great opportunity for market forces to kick in. Max' and my bike fleets represent slack in the system, and we've been only too willing to help our fellow cyclists by filling demand.

Tonight I went through Strava retiring bikes I've recently sold, so I figured it's as good a time as any to reminisce, both over bikes now gone and bikes that deserve to be ridden more.

Not every bike in the garage is shown below. Max' old Cannondale, about which both he and I have rhapsodized in the past, is now a wall ornament. Likewise a Mavic KAS a friend raced on in the 80s.


Focus Paralane

The Focus Paralane was the bike that should have been my main steed for the next 10 years. This really is an outstanding bike, and I'm very pleased to say that its new owner is riding it more than I did. Over the year that I owned it, according to Strava, I put 480 miles on it.

The problem was, for whatever reason, I found myself riding other bikes more. And at the end of the day you have to follow your heart.

Pivot Les

Ah, the Pivot Les. I agonized over buying this bike, torn between it or the Yeti ARC. Again, a great bike. This one suffered from the mail-order bike issue; it just never fit quite perfectly. The reach was a bit short. Moreover when I'm riding with friends I'm usually on a full-suspension bike. Strava puts this bike at about 500 miles, which sounds right.

Yeti SB66c

This one was hard to sell. This wasn't my first "nice" mountain bike (that honor belongs to a lime-green Specialized Enduro), but this was certainly the first nice mountain bike that I rode a lot. My primary bike for 3 years, I eventually replaced it with a very similar Yeti SB5.

Realistically I'm just not going to ride this bike anymore. I love remembering the great rides I've had, but the garage space can be used for better purposes.

Specialized Fatboy

What can I say. This is a fatbike. Max found two of these for sale in Durango, and if his recollection about the price is correct, it was a whale of a deal. This got some use on winter rides, and my experience was that it handled packed snow much better than friends' mountain bikes.

The problem is that in Oregon there just isn't that much opportunity to use a fatbike. At least not where I live. If I end up in a true winter climate, I'm sure I'll get another. But this bike was just depreciating.

Surly Cross-check 1x10

This bike was built around a frame I got on Craigslist, and built up mostly around parts I had in the garage, with an old downtube shifter and some old Neuvation wheels. It was my first attempt at road 1x, and the initial try was a disaster. I didn't truly internalize the necessity of narrow/wide chainrings so the bike constantly derailed.

Once I put on a narrow/wide, the bike was actually pretty darn nice. The issue? It was too small. My other cross-check is a 61cm, and this one was a 59. It made a good rain bike, but if I rode further than 30 miles I'd get a sore back from being too squished. I sold it to a 6-foot tall woman who used to be a bike gymnast.

On The Block

There are a couple bikes that are either already listed or will be soon.


Some time ago I took my Habanero Road bike into TiCycles (a local fabricator) to have them drill it for internal Di2 wiring. They found a small crack in the downtube, so of course I decided the best thing to do was to order a custom Ti frame that matched my Habby's geometry. This was the result.

This is the most "premium" build I've ever had on a bike. Custom Ti frame, Enve fork and bars, Specialized suspension post, carbon seat. Dura-Ace wheels, and Di2 drivetrain. Really a great build. The bike seriously rides like a dream.

I really like it. The problem? I just don't love it. My real problem is that the top tube is too low, leaving too much head-tube sticking up. The head tube is also larger diameter than the other tubing which bugs me. These are in no way flaws, it's just not as clean as I want.

I nearly sold this bike a few weeks ago. The buyer was very interested but ultimately flaked. What I found interesting is that I was relieved he backed out. I've still got it on Craigslist, but it's priced at a premium (which is to say, priced at what I think it's worth, which is a lot). If it doesn't sell, I won't be disappointed. If it does, I'll be bummed but I'll survive.

Pinnacle Arkose 4

This was my first attempt at a gravel bike. I bought it in 2016 and it quickly supplanted the Cross-Check 1x10 as the winter/rain bike. It's still a good bike, which is why I still have it. I'm on the fence about whether or not to sell it.

In The Rotation

This isn't a purge so much as a culling. Thus the garage still has a good sampling of bikes that I ride regularly.

Yeti SB5

Bummer that I don't have a better picture of this bike, but this'll have to do. This bike replaced my Yeti SB66c. Which is funny because it's almost identical, but with slightly larger wheels. It's a great bike, and I expect this will be my go-to mountain bike for the foreseeable future. Which means, until I find another one.

Litespeed Ci2

This is a ridiculous bike and I love it. I bought two similar framesets from an online store that specialized in unused team frames. They cost something like $450 apiece. I wish I'd bought out their entire stock.

I don't know if this is my fastest bike, but I ride fastest on it. It looks gawdy, but even moreso when wearing deep wheels

Maybe someday I'll cut the fork, but at this point it's aggressive enough for me.

Surly Cross-Check Fixie

This is the only Surly I've bought already built up. It was a $1000 steal from Universal Cycles. In a year when I'm actually riding a lot, I'll ride this bike all Spring and it gets me into shape by summer. I'm not a huge "fixie person", like not a messenger or anything. But I do really get into the rhythm of cranking up a steep hill on a 42x14 gear ratio.

Habanero Road

This is the original. Well, my original. Once I graduated from Max' Cannondale I bought this bike, originally Sheldon Brown's "Century Special". Over the years it had several different incarnations, finally finding a permanent home on my Tacx Neo. This bike has tens of thousands of miles on it. It's worth just about $0 to anyone else, but as a trainer bike that fits me better than any other, it's invaluable.

Habanero Rando

Once I started riding brevets I decided to replace my Habanero Road with a more touring oriented bike. Naturally I turned to Habanero and this was the result. It's a different geometry than the road Habanero but somehow this bike owns my best brevet times for all distances from 100K to 1200K.

Like the other Habanero, this one doesn't have much value to anyone else. Many years of reflective tape refuse to come off, and the reality is it's a cheap chinese Ti frame. I haven't ridden it in a few years, but I'm hatching a plan to upgrade it and ride it again. Not sure yet if it'll supplant the Arkose as winter bike. We'll see.

3T Exploro

Max and I have written quite a bit about the 3T Exploro of late. It's a good bike that's intended to replace pretty much everything else. I think Max is a bit more enamored than I, but I can't deny its charms. It's a fast, comfortable road bike and a fast, capable gravel bike.

I don't know if this is a permanent fixture in my garage. It has some definite shortcomings that are perhaps inevitable in a low-volume "boutique" bike. At the same time, I can't fault it's capabilities.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Paralane for sale - New Photos

Sam taught me about the "pop" functionality in Google photos.  So as I relisted my Paralane with a price bump rather than cut, I maxed out the pop on each photo.  Some of these look pretty sweet.

UPDATE:  This bike sold for $2000.  Probably about right for a bike that I got for $2500 brand new 18 months ago.  Do note that when I listed for $2000 the best offer I got was $1700.  When I listed for $3300 a guy came in at $2000.  Plug this into the algorithm for next time!

This bike is listed on DC Craigslist for $3000.  It is worth it.  Find me through that post or respond in the comments.