Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ant or Grasshopper?

In the traditional story of The Grasshopper and the Ant, the ant works hard all summer to gather food for the upcoming winter.  The grasshopper, in contrast, spends the summer singing and enjoying life.  When winter comes, the grasshopper comes to the ant for food and the ant refuses, instead telling the grasshopper an ant version of "Tough luck, buster" and leaves the grasshopper to die.  I've been feeling a bit like a grasshopper lately when it comes to bike maintainence.  Now that it's mid-September and the last official week of summer, thoughts of winter cycling have been peeking out of my subconscience and making their presence known.  Late summer and fall are really the sweet spot of cycling in Minnesota, at least in my opinion.  The weather is comfortable both morning and afternoon, the rains of summer are mostly done (no April showers), and the turning leaves make taking the bike to work that much more rewarding. 
The turning leaves also act as a reminder of the fact that winter is coming.  And in my case, a reminder that my winter bike was rode hard and put away salty last spring.  The ant in me says that I should pull that bike off the rack, pronto, and start gathering components for the upcoming winter.  The grasshopper in me says that it would be much more fun to start looking for components for the new frame I scored off of eBay a few weeks ago.  Getting the Raleigh ready for winter is very ant-like because there's nothing new or interesting needed on that bike.  All it really needs is a new set of snow studs and some elbow grease (and actual grease).  But to make it a more bulletproof winter bike, here are some wants that could give the project a more grasshopper-like appeal:
  • New front hub:  I would really like to give dynamo hub powered lighting a try.  I've got a decent battery-based headlight system, but it's over two years old and I start to worry about rechargable battery lifespan after 2 years.  I've got my eye on the complete 700c wheel with a Shimano hub build that Hiawatha is selling currently.
  • New headlight:  Getting a dynamo-hub would obviously mean a new headlight.  The DLumotec seems to be the way to go.
  • Internal-gear rear hub:  I picked up a NOS Suntour 3-speed hub from eBay last fall for $20 with the intention of taking a wheelbuilding class and building it into a 700c rim for the Raleigh.  I had a conflict with the Hiawatha wheelbuilding class last fall and since I don't know anything more about wheelbuilding than I did when I bought the hub, it's still sitting on my workbench waiting.

Other than that, the bike has been a solid, if unremarkable, winter beater.  But two winters worth of abuse have taken their toll on the drivetrain, specifically the shifting of the bike.  If replacing the cables doesn't take care of the issue and I can't find an acceptable (read: affordable) way to get the Suntour 3-speed up and running, I might have to do a quick and dirty single-speed conversion on this thing.  Fortunately, I've got a few more weeks to ponder this.  At least that's what my inner grasshopper tells me.


Doug said...

What kind of frame did you score on Ebay???

jim w said...

I highly recommend that wheel building class, if they offer it again.

midway cyclist said...

I bought one of the QBP Shimano dyno wheels from Hiawatha a few weeks ago for my Surly, and it's pretty nice. The rim is a Salsa Delgato cross, which is the same width as the Dyad rims i use on that bike, so i don't even need to adjust the brakes when i swap wheels (for commuting -vs- cyclocross). I'm using a standard Lumotec light with it, but when that gets killed i'll probably get the DLumotec. That's a nice looking little light.

And yeah, wheelbuilding is fun, wish i could afford to build myself more :-)

Tex69 said...

I really like my dyno on my LHT commuter. It's by far the best for a commuter ride. The light's not great- average- but the ease and utility is #1. Good luck.