[Dolan sent us these great photos of his Rawland Drakkar for our Bicycle Gallery. —Alan]
The Rawland Drakkar pictured here is my second attempt at a year-round Northwest commuter. The vast majority of the parts were reused from its previous incarnation.
So far, the Drakkar has been filling its role admirably, replacing a Kona Sutra frameset. The ride of the Rawland is light years smoother than the Kona (understandable, since the latter is optimized for carrying loads), and I never realized how much I missed a properly raked fork. You can see the blades soaking up the bumps as you ride along. With a properly long headtube, the Drakkar is truly one of the most comfortable bikes I have ever ridden. The handing is very neutral and stable, the bike overall feels quite sprightly to ride. Indeed I’ve had no issues performing my daily curb drop except rattling loose a fender on the first day, since rectified. There are plenty of details on the frame that make me fall in love with it over and over. In the short time I’ve owned it, it’s gotten its fair share of compliments, especially about the Pacenti fork crown.
If you’re interested in a true all-rounder, Rawland frames are definitely worth a look. You’ll need to perform minor prepwork initally (headtube and possibly some thread chasing), but Sean (the owner) is fantastic about answering any questions, and you’ll be rewarded by a well thought out frame that can do it all in style, for a very reasonable sum.
For 2011, Surly is offering an S&S coupled version of their popular Long Haul Trucker frameset. From the Surly website:
For a couple years we offered the Travelers Check, a travel frame based on our Cross Check model. It could be split in two via S&S Machine Company’s BTCs (bicycle torque couplings), better known as S&S Couplers, machined stainless steel pieces brazed into the top and down tubes. They add a small bit of weight (less than 8 oz/227g per frame), but result in a bike that can be packed into a case for relatively easy transport. When you put it all back together, you have a regular bike, your bike, safe and solid.
The Travelers Check was a great bike for lots of people, but despite its versatility it had some drawbacks as an ideal travel bike. Some found the wheel size problematic. 700c wheels do not fit into an airline-regulation maximum size hardcase without deflating the tires, and even then it’s a tight fit. As well, many people use a travel bike for touring far away lands, panniers fully loaded with clothes, cookware, camping equipment, and mousse, and wanted a frame designed for this purpose.
It isn’t really feasible for us to offer two S&S coupled frames so we’re replacing the Travelers Check with the Long Haul Trucker DeLuxe. As you may know, our Long Haul Trucker is a true touring frame. The LHT DeLuxe is a Long Haul Trucker with S&S’s new, lower profile couplers, and the frame uses 26″ wheels. Hey!
No word yet on the MSRP.
Fork-mounted “porteur” style racks are becoming increasingly popular. They’re super effective for carrying bulky items that won’t fit in a touring pannier, and when combined with a basket or cargo bag, they’re convenient as catch-alls for running errands or commuting. The downside is that carrying a load on the front fork slows down a bike’s handling, and if the load is above the front wheel, it may cause “wheel flop”. Some of this can be mitigated for with low trail geometry, but the selection of low trail production-level bikes is extremely limited.
I have two bikes with cargo racks mounted on the fork; a Civia Loring with the factory rack, and a Surly LHT with a Pass & Stow. Neither have low trail geometry, but I’ve become completely acclimated to carrying weight on the fork, so it’s not really an issue for me. On the other hand, my little Brompton has a frame-mounted carrier that takes the weight off of the fork and places it on the main frame. The difference between these two set-ups is striking. While I notice even subtle differences in how much weight I’m carrying on the Civia and Surly, the Brompton’s steering is unaffected by even relatively heavy loads. This difference may explain the growing number of so-called “cycle trucks” and their variants, with their smaller front wheels and cargo platforms mounted to the frame above the front wheel.
I don’t have much experience with “real” cycle trucks, but I hope to eventually obtain one for review; it’ll be interesting to compare its load carrying capabilities and handling to my existing bikes with fork-mounted carriers. If it ends up being anything like my little “Brommie Cycle Truck”, it should fare quite well.
Tonight was a special evening. For the first time in nearly 20 years we had what is known as a “super harvest moon” here in the Northern Hemisphere. A super harvest moon is a full moon that, on the evening of the autumnal equinox, rises in the east as the sun sets in the west.
From the NASA Science website:
The action begins at sunset on Sept 22nd, the last day of northern summer. As the sun sinks in the west, bringing the season to a close, the full Harvest Moon will rise in the east, heralding the start of fall. The two sources of light will mix together to create a kind of 360-degree, summer-autumn twilight glow that is only seen on rare occasions.
It was a lovely evening to be out on a bike soaking it all in.
Our Gen Yer’s Wheels of Choice
According to a recent article in Kiplinger, members of the so-called “Generation Y” are driving less than their parents’ generation. Today, drivers aged 21-30 only account for 14% of miles driven, down from 21% in 1995. The article asserts that young people are more likely than ever to ride transit or use car sharing systems. Bicycles aren’t mentioned in the piece, but this age group’s growing disdain for the automobile appears to be a contributing factor in the growing use of bicycles for transportation. This idea is certainly supported by what we see among our teenagers and their friends, many of whom are showing little interest in obtaining their driver’s licenses.
Washington D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare went live yesterday. The system boasts 1,100 bicycles spread across 110 stations located throughout Washington, D.C. and Arlington, VA. The Capital Bikeshare program is similar to other bikes share programs, with daily, monthly, and yearly passes available. The first 30 minutes of each trip are free, with each additional 30 minutes incurring an additional fee.
More at the Capital Bikeshare website →
Laura Crawford and Russ Roca of The Path Less Pedaled published their first e-book today. Panniers & Peanut Butter: The Path Less Pedaled Bike Camping Gear Guide is a comprehensive guide to bike touring consisting of equipment reviews, tips and tricks, and of course, beautiful photos from their 14-month-and-counting odyssey. From their description:
After nearly 14 months of traveling the US on bicycles, we have finally put together a comprehensive guide to all of our gear, with great photos from the last year, and road-tested tips that we’ve discovered along the way (how to find electricity on the road, the virtues of the tortilla, etc.,) Today, it is available to the world!
We’re really excited to release Panniers & Peanut Butter and we hope that it makes bike touring more accessible and inspires you to put together your own touring gear, finagle the time, and hit the road!
Panniers & Peanut Butter is 75 pages long and goes way beyond a simple list of our stuff, or even a technical look at the pros and cons of different items. It’s chock-full of photos, tips, stories, lessons – and probably everything you could want to know about all of our gear.
Panniers & Peanut Butter →