Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Fat Bike Foolery

So,   I did it...  I waffled back and forth on this for a while..  Couldn't really justify the purchase.. But Dammit, when I rode that Trek Farley,  it was damn fun..  The kind of youthful hooligan kind of fun. You know.. hopping curbs, and goofing off in general.

$500.  Delivered.  What was I really buying and what was I giving up...  I scrutinized every aspect of it.  I checked all of the frame geometry against the  Trek Farley 6.  Nearly identical.. the chainstays are 20mm longer.. I can live with that. CrMo front fork versus alloy.. okay. Tapered head stem would have been nice, but not a deal breaker..  Tektro cable disc brakes.. I can live with that, from what I have put together, it is simpler, more reliable, cheaper and easier to repair.  Note, I did not say they were better than hydraulic brakes..  I can live with that as well.  The Trek was at just over $1000 more than this.. Did I mention the tires.. Glorious 4 inch wide tires.. rolling on 50mm rims vs 80mm on the Trek. 

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.. I can hear everybody saying that it is going to be awful for riding in the snow.   .........I don't snow much down here,  but we have some amazing trails, rock gardens, and sand.. lots of sand....  and mud.....lots, and lots of mud.

So,  I logged into Bikes Direct, added it to my cart. Checked out, and waited.  And waited.  I am not the most patient person, so it seemed like forever, and then there was the whole US Ports being shutdown.. F'ng unions.. that is whole other rant...

It arrived... A huge brown box, with all kinds of warning labels on it,  of which we used to poke fun at one of my more gravity challenged friends.

 Everything was tucked neatly inside.  The rear wheel was already installed,  just had to install the seat, head stem, bars, front wheel, and pedals.  Made a few adjustments to the brake cables and it was all said and done in less than an hour so.

It was off for a quick ride in the dark to shake it down.. Everything seems to be set about right. Just needs a little bit of fine tuning.  Then it started raining... and raining...  I was only able to get in a few short runs after work and general  messing about and terrorizing the neighborhood.  Still fun and was only running about 9 psi.
Suddenly, the sun shone down upon me on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.. Time to see what kind of trouble we can get into.  I increased the tire psi to about 13psi which corrected the self-steering issue that happens with these.. On the pavement, this is just a standard old mountain bike.  Old School, no suspension, no frills mountain bike.  Take it off the pavement though, and it really shines.  It rolls over gravel roads and trails with ease.  May as well be paved, it is that easy.  The giant balloon tyres provide enough cushion to roll over lager rocks, holes and obstacles that are normally avoided on newer bikes.  I did notice an odd side effect of the large wheels and tires.. If I got them rolling fast enough, there was enough flywheel effect to help them maintain without much extra effort.   I am  loving riding Fat...

Can I just say that again.. This is so much fun.  I know its heavy and slow.  I bought it for fun and fitness.. If you can pedal around a 30+ lbs bike for miles and miles... It has got to do something for the fitness.

If you are ever only as old as you feel, this is the fountain of youth.

I love riding this bike...


Monday, March 9, 2015

Trials and Tribulations.....Maybe It's Just More Trials..

Lots has happened around here as of late.  The family and I spent the holidays with my parents down south.  My son has never spent Christmas with them, so I figured it was about time.

July of 2014, my amazing SWM TL320 was stolen from my yard my some thieving S.O.B. who likely had no idea what it was..
Likely the last pictures of this SWM that I will ever take.

Long story short, I ended up buying another vintage trials bike. This time a 1984 Fantic 300 Professional.  Another amazing trials bike,  motor would climb anything as long as Troubadour wasn't around..

Again, another bike with a no start problem.. 30 min worth of tinkering and a bit of new fuel and it just hums along.  The differences between the two,  the Fantic was a little bit heavier on the nose in terms of balance, making it steer a little better.  I still preferred the predictability of the Rotax motor in the SWM.  The Fantic tended to have a little bit more peaky rev range.  What I have really wanted since taking the SWM to my first trials event, has been a newer like 1999 or newer trials bike by a company that is still in business and can source parts somewhat readily. 

After doing our taxes this year, I found that I had some money left over, and it was burning a hole in my pocket like a California wildfire.  I was searching Craigslist, and found a deal on a 2002 GasGas TXT280.  The guys was a significantly overpriced and by the time he got back to me, he suckered somebody into paying what he asked.  Back to Craigslist.... Might as well call it Cracklist, since it is cheap, highly addictive and will leave you broke.  Ought to have a Surgeon Generals warning on it.

    I had found it. A 2007 Beta Rev3 250, and wait for it, with a factory made long ride seat.  Bam.. fired off an email, made an offer that I thought was fair, and waited.  The waiting is the worst part.  Makes you feel like the nerd asking the popular girl to the prom.  The chance is there if you take it,  doesn't make you less nervous knowing you might get punched in the gut instead. 

     Meanwhile, waiting on a response, I decide to sell off my 1987 CR250, as I seldom ride it anymore, and can stand to let motorcycles sit.  I consider it cruel and unusual punishment for them, they are high performance machines that deserve to run free..  Oh man... I asked $800 for fully functional CR250, which, I thought was a reasonably price for what it was.  I had Craiglist flakes for breakfast lunch and dinner.  One person asked if I would take $400 for it. I was insulted. One person asked what my best cash offer was, I said $700.  They then had the stones to offer me $500.. Dude.....Clean out your ears... I ain't giving it away.  But, I sold it eventually to a person that showed up with 700 dollars...
    I may be slow, but I learned my lesson. So, when I listed the Fantic, I put a number out there that was big enough to keep the riff raff from calling on it.  It wasn't 2 or 3 days, and a guy from 400 miles away said he would buy it, sight unseen.  Trials people must be crazy.  As it was, after selling both of those, that I would load up the family and drive over 500 miles to buy this Beta.  Who does that?

Once home, I immediately set out to mixing some fuel, calls for 1.5% ratio of oil to fuel. Filled the tank, and headed for the local OHV area, as the weather this spring has been phenomenal.  I managed to flip it over backwards once, and laid it up on its side once, both times, on some gnarly black diamond trails, and smiling the whole damn time..  Nothing will show how pitiful the skills you thought you had were, like modern technology.  It was a little spooky riding a wheelie up a steep hill praying not to go over and while trying not to back off the throttle.  That is the balance point though, and I have to learn to get used to it. 

  The last couple of weeks, have been trying to get used to how it likes to move, and to dial the suspension to my preferences. Today was some full lock static balance practice.  Tire obstacles, figure eights, small wheelies and trying to hold pressure. finally I stacked up some pallets to climb up and over.

It's a lot harder than it looks, that is roughly 22 inches high. I did traverse it both ways,  then increased the difficulty by adding a cable spool and slight left turn, and down a 12 inch wide ramp.  It started to get kind of sketchy and decided to quit so I can still ride an event this coming weekend. 

Keep on keeping on.. whether that is riding through the sun or trying to dig out of the Northeast's icy death grip..