This Space for Rent

Horrifying discovery of the day

I went out for donuts this morning, and, as I always do, I took the Trek. Sadly, the old Trek doesn’t feel like it used to; on the way up to Sandy, it felt very sluggish and heavy, and by the time I’d picked up the donuts and came rocketing down the hill, my arms, hands, and back were telling me that this was not the sort of bicycle riding they wanted to do.

The MLCM has, I’m afraid, spoiled me; after I got back from Sandy, I took the MLCM out for a short (12 mile) errand in town and it was much more comfortable to ride, even after 50 miles of pretzelling my back up the mountain and back.

Well, there’s always the gaspipe frame, I suppose. It’s ~58cm, so if it rides at all unlike a cement boat it might make a good replacement.



Is that literal or metaphorical gaspipe? (One can imagine both, somehow.)

If you could conceivably have use for a Giant Cypress LX frame with a 56cm top tube length (I doubt it; aluminum, and not meant to be a road bike, but if) it’s yours for the shipping. (What I just transitioned off after one too many complaints from my wrists.)

Graydon Sun Aug 22 09:01:33 2010

56cm is the top tube length on the Trek, so I don’t think your Giant would make a good substitute for it. The MLCM has a 57.5cm top tube, and the junkpile frame is a little longer than that (58cm, I think) so it would make a better approximation to the MLCM’s ride (at a weight penalty of about 3 pounds.)

“Gaspipe” is the derisive term for cheap frames made of straight-gauge hi-ten steel. I don’t know for certain that the junkpile frame is straight gauge and/or hi-ten, but the weight and the, ahem, quality of the welds (the crown lug gaps at the bottom and is pinned together by a thick and unfinished weld; the head tube lugs are tacked to the top & down tubes by pea-sized unfinished welds) certainly seem to indicate that it is.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with gaspipe frames. The Murray Baja Experience is almost certainly a gaspipe frame, but after converting it to 700c it weighs less than the MLCM (admittedly, the MLCM has fenders, a handlebar bag, a saddle bag, and almost always carries a full water bottle or two) and it’s a very lively frame now that it’s not being dragged down by 11 pounds of steel wheels and super-heavy Kenda 28x2.1 tires. So my hope is that after I’ve scrounged the parts needed to build up the junkpile frame (I did buy some parts; I bought a $15 Nashbar mustache bar for it, I’ll probably have to buy a new saddle, and I’ve got to buy a fistful of spokes so I can build up a front wheel) that it will be a nice enough frame so I’ll have the option of just moving the xtracycle frame over to it.

In the dream world where I had money I’d go out and buy a cheap Big Dummy frame (and a cyclocross-style fork – the unicrown fork that comes with the Big Dummy frameset is hideous, but is very long, and the only mass market lugged forks that are comparably long are the cyclocross ones) and just move parts over from the Trek while saving the frame for when Russell or Silas are big enough to fit it. But that dream world won’t happen unless I win the lottery.

David Parsons Mon Aug 23 09:27:07 2010

The idea that, yeah, it could really be gas pipe kinda got burned into my brain by the pictures from the guy who’d made himself a cheap and undoubtedly stable tripod out of three six foot lengths of 2" gas pipe and a cylinder head designated surplus to requirements. (He at least didn’t fill the legs with sand.)

I suppose what matters is if the weld holds, not if it looks pretty. (Thinking of some of my attempts to forge-weld, back when.) Though sometimes one gets and makes vague sighing noises. (Or at least I do.)

I suspect the big Fuji I had as a kid would be a gaspipe frame, by that definition; I was very fond of it (it wasn’t too small!) but it’s long gone now; traded in 10 years ago for the initial Giant. (Since getting it running would have been a mighty project. And I had no idea what I was trying to do, anyway, other than get more exercise.)

Is a trailer absolutely right out? If you’re wanting to be able to take significant camping stuff, that seems potentially more practical – and giving you a regular bike when you’re there – than a heavy cargo bike?

Graydon Mon Aug 23 18:11:05 2010

Xtracycles aren’t that much heavier than bobtail bikes. When I strip the saddlebags off the Trek, it weighs somewhere around 38 pounds, which is only a couple of pounds more than the MLCM weighs as I always ride it. If I did a full rando conversion on the Trek, it would probably weigh about 42 pounds (instead of 36(ish) pounds on the MLCM)which would certainly be noticable, but not the end of the world on anything <= 200km (I suspect that SWITCTBN and the bears would have some fairly pointed objections if I proposed to ride a R300+ in the middle of a camping trip.)

I worry about loaded trailers

  • wagging the tail of the bicycle.
  • being unbraked on steep downhills.
  • just being another additional /thing/ to bring along.
  • and being more mechanical complexity that can break at unfortunate times.

An xtracycle is just a regular old bike. Longer, of course, but none of the parts are anything out of the ordinary.

David Parsons Tue Aug 24 09:36:31 2010

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