Sunday, June 10, 2007

Behemoth XXIX

As you may recall, gentle reader, I've been fascinated with single-speed and fixed-gear bicycles for some time. That's why I acquired the a Cannondale Capo late last year. Well, a few weeks ago, I finally broke down and bought a single-speed mountain bike, specifically a Raleigh XXIX.

My new ride is not just single-speed; it's also rigid-specific, meaning the frame is not designed to compensate for the increased axle-to-crown distance associated with a suspension fork. Lest you think I'm some kind of Luddite, I hasten to point out that this bike rides on the so-called "29-inch" wheels. The rims on these wheels are 622 mm in diameter, the same as most road-bike rims and 63 mm more than the traditional "26-inch" wheels on most mountain bikes. There's grass-roots movement among some members of the MTB community to move to this standard, since "29er" wheels roll over obstacles more easily and maintain speed better. The trade-offs are heavier wheels, lower acceleration, and more challenging fit for shorter riders. (I hope to post more on this topic later, but I'm not sure if I'll ever get around to it, so read this article if you are interested.)

The XXIX, which is named for its wheel size, was quite a bargain: it carries decent-though-not-spectacular components, handles quite well, and only cost me 675 dollars. That's the least I've paid for a bike, without correcting for inflation, since I bought my first "adult" a Trek 930 way back in 1992. Why was it so inexpensive, you ask? Two reasons: it's made out of steel and it was built in Taiwan. This is only my second bike made out of 4130; that first Trek was also chro-moly. It's also the first "grown-up" bicycle I've owned that wasn't built in the US. I bought the thing, even though I over-worry about corrosion of steel alloys and prefer to buy US-made bikes, because this particular vehicle allows me to inexpensively evaluate my interest in three MTB subcultures: single-speeding, 29ers, and rigid mountain-biking. You might think it's unscientific to simultaneously vary three parameters, but I'm sure followers of design of experiments would approve.

For the record, buying yet another bicycle wasn't entirely selfish. I've now reconfigured my geared, hardtail mountain bike for Alison to use. She's already taken it out a couple of times, and I think she's starting to enjoy off-road riding.

Enough with the chit-chat. Here're a couple of photos of the beast, which I have decided to name the Behemoth, because of its enormous wheels and 26-pound (!) weight:

If you can't tell from the above photos how gargantuan the wheels and tires are---try looking at the length of the headtube or the height of the rear tire relative to the seatpost clamp--here's a photo comparing our two mountain bikes:

See what I mean?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:24 PM

    Silly Skeeler, gears are for bikes!