A few photos of the my 2007 Jamis Supernova with Origin8 Gary 2 handlebars. Haven’t had a chance to ride more than about three miles with them, so today – just pictures. Click on them for full-size images.
I’ve been thinking about a Tennessee expedition for at least two, three years, now. Two of them come readily to mind, although I’m still not clear on whether or what degree of support is needed. Not too far away from here are the fabled sources of both the Elk and Duck rivers. Neither river is famous for its commercial value, except in a couple of locations to canoe-float outfitters. Both have been dammed in one or two places to create lakes used for fishing and other recreational purposes. The Duck River is contained entirely within the State of Tennessee; the Elk’s course takes it over the state’s southern border and down into Alabama.
The feasibility of hiking, pedaling, and canoeing or kayaking the entire length of the Duck is at present an unknown. There’s a guy in the UK who’s done something like that – his website takes a while to load, but is pretty cool and worth seeing/reading. Slingshot Bikes of Michigan produces a foldable, full-size mountain bike that could be stowed aboard a canoe for those parts of the journey that could be completed by canoe. It’s conceivable that a foldable, stowable trailer could allow the canoe and gear to be pulled with the bicycle overland, or trailered canoe with bike stowed could be pulled by hand where necessary.
I did enter a competition to win the use of a Slingshot bicycle for a period of months, but I and others who posted more serious-minded entries lost out to a Canadian who called himself von Bubblegum and later changed his Facebook surname to Slingshot. That was the “other venue” I mentioned in my post entitled “Three Years On Two Wheels.” Ah, well, that’s how it goes. A company’s got to make marketing decisions it hopes will maximize exposure and increase sales. I wish the Canadian guy well. Canada is probably a great market for these bikes, not all of which are foldables.
Last Thursday, my Road I.D. sport band, in black, arrived in the mail. I took pictures of the packaging, as well as the promotional material included with the band, but my photos turned out badly. Still, bad pictures I can find are better than good pictures I cannot find if they can be used for illustrative purposes. Two of the pictures I took could not be salvaged, but the others were useable. Here they are:
The state of our housekeeping, here at Burnt Down Plantation Estates located in Lovely Stepford, Tennessee, is such that I didn’t keep the packaging after photographing it. Because of that clutter reduction strategy, there was not a photo re-do.
Once I removed the band from its card, the engraved metal plate was easily migrated from the original bright yellow band to the black band. I wore it for the first time last Saturday and again yesterday. Haven’t been getting as many rides in over the past week or so, as I had been previously.
Below are photos of the yellow band, left, and the black band, right. I normally wear the Road I.D. on my left wrist so its reflective properties have a chance to increase my visibility when riding.
The Miyata’s rolling a lot more smoothly now that I’ve had the hubs serviced – grease and bearings – by the guys at MOAB in Murfreesboro. Good work done at a reasonable price.
Here are a few pictures from my rides last Saturday and yesterday:
This morning I took the Green ’98 to the mechanic’s garage to diagnose the source of the vehicle’s coolant loss, which I first noticed Friday when I drove a long way to the bike shop to collect the Miyata 610. I began smelling coolant on the interstate, but the temperature gauge never registered more than one tick above normal operating temperature. When I got back to the house, I opened the hood and observed the reservoir had no coolant. I filled the reservoir and drove to worship service yesterday, and this morning checked and found it again was empty.
At the garage, I saw an old friend, Thursday, the 5-speed 850 I drove for several years, possibly the best car I’ve ever owned. The car’s looking worse for wear, and my mechanic told me its engine will have to be replaced – “It runs, but it burns a quart of oil every 500 miles.” This, I was told, because the woman who bought the car from me failed to take care of routine maintenance.
I checked the UPS tracking number provided by Road I.D. to locate the black sport band they sent last week. Turns out it almost made it here, then got re-routed to Arizona, and is probably on its way back to Road I.D. in Ohio, or to me. Time will tell. I’ll take some photos and post them when the package arrives.
When I drove to the bike shop this morning, I expected to return with the Miyata. As I was about to pay for the service and leave with it, I noticed the shift cables were really slack, and asked about it. The manager seemed surprised and took it back to the workshop and examined it on a repair stand. He examined the ticket. I explained why I brought the bike in. He said the fellow who checked the bike in and wrote up the ticket hadn’t noted my concerns. He and a mechanic looked at it and we agreed that the lead mechanic should take a look at it. Hoping it will be done by Saturday.
I’ve still got the Razesa to ride because neither of those who expressed interest in buying it actually did so. Maybe I’ll get a ride in someday this week.
My ticket was dismissed.
So, here I was with a day to get stuff done and didn’t really have a bike I felt comfortable taking for a long ride in lousy weather. What did I do? I cleaned bathrooms and took care of another responsibility I’d been procrastinating about doing.
Today, I’ve got present at traffic court to answer to a judge for the particulars of a citation a local policeman issued to me back in late August. Proof of registration and financial responsibility may serve to keep me from having to pay a fine; that’s the outcome I’m hoping for in the matter.
Since I’ve had to schedule the time, I also plan to use the day to pick up the Miyata 610 from the bike shop, about 45 miles distant, where I left it last week to get the hubs serviced and whatever is bent near the back axle corrected – derailleur, hanger, I don’t know what. The wheel’s been a bear to reinstall when I’ve removed it for cleaning, the last couple of times. Furthermore, when riding on the middle ring, in front, and shifting while pedaling hard up a hill to the small front ring, the chain tends to bang down onto the smallest of the freewheel cogs at the back. On steeper hills that I know I’m able to climb on the Miyata, I’ve lost headway and had to walk a couple of times. It’s irritating.
Because my local bike mechanic (this town has no local bike shop) has had to go back to working nine-hour days with only two 15 minute breaks during the workday (that doesn’t sound legal, does it?), he hasn’t had the time, energy, and joie-de-vivre necessary to tackle the problems that arise when a 33 year-old bike gets ridden an hour or two daily on good to crummy pavement.
Yesterday, the bike shop called and told me the Miyata is ready for pickup – they were able to service the hubs, so the races were probably not blown, I think the term is. Additionally, the caller said the shop was able make necessary adjustments to ensure proper shifting, this at no cost. Good, yes?
Today, I will take them the Jamis Supernova for complete tune-up and Mavic hubs service (if that works, I won’t get a new wheelset for the bike for awhile), and the Bridgestone MB-4 to see about getting the headtube refaced and another Tange Levin headset installed if the one I installed cannot be salvaged. I don’t hold out much hope for my installation. Finally, I think I’ll see if they can install the little replacement dials for the shifters.
It’ll be at least a week before I get the bikes back and it’s been rainy the past four five days with not much prospect of drier weather for the next few days. I will probably ride the Miyata in the wet, although the Jamis is the bike I’d hoped to subject to inclement weather. Ordered some Tri-Flow last week on the advice of my mechanic, to replace the waxy chain cleaner/lubricant I’ve been using. Perhaps that will offer better wet-condition protection to the Miyata’s moving parts.
Today I tested the new Continental Tour Ride tires on about 25 miles of good paved road, as well as on some gravel, grassy, and degraded tarmac roads and lanes. This was a beautiful for day for a ride – overcast, light rain intermittently falling, wet roads, leaves beginning to accumulate in the streets, temperature in the low to middle 70’s. My goals were to see whether or to what extent the tires would slow me down on the road, and to see how they, and the Jamis Supernova, held up on rougher paved and formerly paved surfaces.
I got up this morning and washed, then lubed the Jamis; added air to the tires inflating to the maximum pressure of 70 psi in the rear tire and between 65 to 70 psi in the front tire. Although I added some air, the tires remained well-inflated since their installation Thursday. Wearing mismatched kit, with a couple of water bottles, an expired Larabar lemon pound cake bar and an expired Clif caffeine Mocha pudding/gel/tube/thing, I set out.
This was probably not a fair test, because those execrable Mavic hubs spin so poorly the bike seems, during the first two or three miles, nearly unride-able. After that, either I got used to having to pedal harder than I would have to using a wheelset in good order, or the hubs loosened up. Still, I think they made me tired. I stopped at picnic table at an elementary school to eat the Larabar, and read on the label it contains 3/4 cup of fruit, and peas. In one of the neighborhoods, I stopped and talked to a retired physician of my acquaintance for about 45 minutes. Getting an unexpected chance to visit with people I like is one of the benefits of a mid-morning Saturday ride.
My average speed, when I checked, during the paved portion of my ride, was down from last week’s 15.5 miles per hour riding the same bike with Continental Ultra Sport II tires, to about 14.65 mph. After mixing in a variety of rough surfaces, by ride’s end, my average speed was a plodding 14.3 mph. I look forward to riding on better hubs soon – I’ll be taking the Jamis in for a tune-up and hub-service early next week. Then, I’ll be able to better assess the Continental Tour Ride tires vis-à-vis speed and rolling resistance.
The Tour Rides were sure-footed, to use a reviewer’s cliché, on slick wet pavement, slick fallen leaves on wet pavement. Both the Jamis Supernova and the Continental Tour Ride tires handled predictably and well on grassy lanes, gravel roads, degraded tarmac, washed out tarmac, pounding uphill and down. I balked at riding over a patch of gravel the chunks of which were a little larger than golf balls. I’d been riding along at about 16 mph when I came to that pile of gravel; it was so close to the end of the road at the main highway, that I just turned around and pedaled back to find a different route to return to public thoroughfares.
I didn’t ride into any briar patches or through any slick, red mud today; that was Thursday’s project. During today’s ride, I took no pictures in the neighborhoods – maybe next time I’ll prop the bike up in front of a vacant Stepford McMansion for your viewing pleasure. During my ride, the drizzle and light rain became breezy overcast, and a lot of the water on the ground dried up. On the way back to my starting point, I stopped at a coffee shop for a cup and a cookie. I spent a while talking with the owners, then sat at a table out front and rested my flabby, middle-aged buttocks a bit before pedaling on.
You may recall that when I bought the 2007 Jamis Supernova cyclocross bike last Thursday, I bought it to serve as my foul-weather, winter bike so I can ease up on the Miyata, which I some time ago nicknamed “Fairweather.” But the Jamis had some problems that require and required attention.
Continental Ultra Sport II
The biggest problem immediately identifiable was the low-end tires, albeit relatively new, that came with the bike – a pair of Continental Ultra Sport II wire bead tires. They’re cheap – about $15.00 each – and look a little like Gatorskins, but the information on the Internet indicates they probably won’t last more than 500 miles of hard riding. Therefore, from last Thursday through the day before yesterday, Wednesday, I’ve ridden the Supernova somewhat more gingerly (except that first day) on longer rides, and haven’t ridden as far as I normally do ride. Part of that latter is due to the hubs’ resistance, though, as well as desire to avoid flatting 17 miles from the house.
Clement X’Plor USH Adventure Tire
After thinking about the problem and looking for solutions, I decided I want a road tire that can also be used offroad. The product I liked best for this, at a price I’m willing to pay, is the Clement X’Plor USH in 60 TPI (Threads Per Inch). One of the criticisms I found regarding this tire, though, is that it may not perform well in wet conditions. Here in Southern Middle Tennessee, we get a fair amount of rain during Fall and Winter Months. The Gatorskins I’ve relied on for year-round pedaling both Miyata and Razesa grip well on wet pavement, but perform poorly in offroad conditions, wet or dry.
Continental Tour Ride
What I settled upon, or settled for, was a pair of 700 x 37 Continental Tour Ride tires, almost universally criticized for their weight and rolling resistance, yet praised for their ability to handle the lousy conditions to which I wish to subject my 2007 Jamis Supernova cyclocross bike – bad pavement, dirt roads, washed-out roads, wintry conditions, gravel, soggy fields, and so on. I figured I could just pedal harder to go faster, AND my bike’s got 18 gear combinations available with compact cyclocross crankset. I’m golden, right? Considering the tires cost about $16 apiece and if I found them unride-able, I could donate them to Goodwill and upgrade to the Clements.
The Continental Tour Ride is manufactured, according to the tire’s stuck-on label, in India. A few bike forum posts indicate users purchasing Indian manufactured Continental tires have had some that are badly sized or will not fit on their bike’s rims. But, people in India have been riding bikes since the British Raj, and are probably able to cope with the intricacies of bicycle tire manufacture. Sadly I’m not sure we’re any longer capable of that here, in the U.S., on a large-scale basis.
700 x 37 version of Continental Tour Ride on 2007 Jamis Supernova
Wednesday, I changed out the Supernova’s stem (and it looks like I installed it upside-down, although it feels fine ridden that way) and added a set of cage-pedals I bought from my mechanic for $10. I also corrected the bars’ tilt, rolling them forward for more comfortable riding position. I installed second-hand 90 mm Bontrager alloy stem for the 110 or 120 mm RaceFace stem that came with the bike.
A cheap Planet Bike computer came with the Supernova
The tires arrived Wednesday, as promised, and I had some time yesterday afternoon to install them. The most common complaint I’ve found about the Continental Tour Ride, aside from weight and rolling resistance, is that it’s a difficult tire to mount. I had no trouble, whatsoever, mounting the 37 mm version on Mavic Ksyrium Elite rims. I went with the wider version, although I could have got a pair of 32’s, for no reason at all – I gave the matter no thought and cannot now think why that was the case. After the tires had shipped, and I realized what I had done – ordering a super-fat tire for the Jamis – I worried a little that the tire, mounted, would not fit on the bike due to fork, stay, and brake dimensions. That turned out not to be a problem – the wheel tire combination fits fine. I’ve got the tires inflated to between 65 and 70 psi, the latter being the manufacturer’s stated maximum pressure.
In the late afternoon, I set out to test the tires in the same conditions to which I’ve subjected both the Miyata and Razesa and in which both bikes have proved, aside from their forgiving frame characteristics, less than adequate. Mud, washed-out roads, broken pavement, grassy fields, underbrush, alleyways, gravel – all of these things, the Supernova equipped with Continental Tour Rides handled excellently. I rode about 13 miles in one hour, but my miles per hour, around town, are typically lower (because of frequent stops and, in this case, my monkeying around on rough surface conditions necessitating a slowdown). I didn’t notice much increase in rolling resistance over the Ultra Sport treadless tires, and I think that once I’ve got the Mavic hubs sorted out, the bike will be fine to ride longer distances on the road.
A note about those Kucharik gloves pictured above –
they were already torn like that when I rode into the briar patch (formerly dirt road)
How It Works
Usually what happens is that something piques my interest and I begin to acquire information about the subject. A lot of the time, what interests me is technology, and when that is the case, I learn everything I can about whatever the thing is that interests me. Curiosity is the starting point. My interests are not limited to things, but this post is about things.
I scour discussion boards, old catalogs in portable document format, reviews, purveyors of new old stock, and consult with those known to me who are more expert than I. Sometimes, I decide I’ve got to have whatever it is I’ve been studying about. Usually, then, what I decide is that the cost of the latest version of whatever it is cannot be justified, so I buy (when I can find it) an upper mid-range or top of the line item that is several years old.
For instance, I bought a 1981 Miyata 610 that was in nearly new old stock condition, and have put the bike to constant use. I obsessively researched the manufacturer and the model for a month or two before making the purchase.
Except for the Power Mac 7600 I bought in the Nineties, I’ve never purchased a new computer. All of our computers were refurbs and supposedly obsolete when we bought them, but they serve us pretty well. My smartphone is the version of the Iphone that my provider was giving away at contract renewal time. My Pentax Optio water proof camera was several years old, but new in box, when I got it.
Sometimes, I’ll buy something on the used market that may be suitable, but isn’t what I really want. The reason for that is that I never do want to spend a lot of money. I have qualms of conscience about spending money, and because, as a married man and a father, what I really want more than things is to husband the family’s resources. I recall buying a Power Mac 8500 for a video project in college – several years old at the time, but I got the project done and got to monkey around with video. I got the 8500 because I thought the used 9500 was too expensive. Sometimes what I buy on the used market that turns out to have problems that require correction or upgrade which may have a learning curve and require spending more money.
I learn how to cobble stuff together out of necessity. Sometimes I find I am able to tackle learning projects that seemed impossible to me when I was younger, before I had learned how to learn in the need of the moment. Necessity promotes learning.
Who Needs a ‘Modern’ Bicycle?
I figure, back in 1981 or 1985, cyclists were doing cool things with their then-new bikes, so why shouldn’t I be able to do cool stuff with those same bikes that are now old. Having old bikes, I learned how to operate downtube friction-shifters, ride fairly heavy bikes, ride where I want to ride, ride hills that intimidated me, outrun (for the most part) trailer-dwelling pit-bull dogs, ride in traffic, and so forth. No worries, right? So, why would I want an index-shifted, lightweight road-bike? I don’t know for sure.
I have been intrigued by purpose-built cyclocross bikes because there’ve been times I’ve ridden my road bikes down gravel roads and through mud and on dirt tracks, experiencing their limitations. Pavement ends, and I want to keep going. Limitations including clearance at brakes, forks, and stays for mud; road tire (even the venerable Continental Gatorskin) inability to maintain much traction on degraded small town alleyways, mud, sand, gravel; road bike lateral drift on dry, loose dirt and gravel. Frame geometry has not been a problem with my old lugged-steel bikes, nor has ride comfort. Modern cyclocross bikes appear to have similar slack frame and fork geometry to my ancient Razesa (a sport-tourer/racer) and the older Miyata (primarily a tourer). Additionally, I don’t want to abuse the Miyata – my favorite bike – during the winter months. Something newer might hold up a little better in Southern Middle Tennessee cold-and-wet-season conditions. I ride all year long.
Without regard to harsher climatic and road surface conditions, having joined a cycling club and occasionally participating in group rides, I listen with envy to guys talking about their 65 to 75 mile rides. I wish for a sufficient number of cogs at the rear wheel to address the varying terrain in this part of the state, as well as the ability to more effortlessly shift between them while riding. I’ve gotten tired of unexpected goofy cable maladjustment causing the chain to bang down to smallest cog in back when trying shift into a lower gear to climb a hill. I hate walking up hills and, although I could be a stronger cyclist, some of the problems are due to an erratic funkiness inherent in the old equipment. Heck, next year, I’d like to ride the BRAT – that’d be greater challenge than necessary on a 33 year-old tourer with the original 15-speed Suntour groupset. Actually, I could probably do the BRAT on the Miyata, but I’d rather ride it on an Orbea Starship. Heck, I grew up watching reruns of Star Trek on a 13” black and white television in my room when I should have been doing homework. Starships are where I come from.
So, regarding a modern bike – a choice of two types of bike: a premium road bike, or a cyclocross bike.
Bike versus Upright Freezer: Freezer Wins
We got the upright freezer my wife has been wanting for months, and that was the right thing to do. Got the freezer at about 60% of the item’s on sale price because it had some cosmetic imperfections; that’s fine with us because the appliance resides in our garage.
About the bikes, then. The one I wanted was a 2003 Orbea Starship (Columbus aluminum) tube frame with carbon seat and chain stays, full Campagnolo Record Ultra 10-Speed gruppo, Bontrager wheelset, Bontrager carbon fork and seatpost, and Bontrager seat, bars, stem. Truly a beautiful bike, right down to its tan bar-wrap, which reminded me of the steering wheel wraps we had on our cars back in the 70’s. Pretty much the-best-money-can-buy build in its class.
My wife told me to go ahead and make an offer on it, and I, the expressionless man whose dial rarely registers anything that could be interpreted as enthusiasm, was visibly excited and happy about the prospect. Then, I woke up in the early a.m., the day I was to drive out and test-ride the bike, and I had this sense that the amount I was prepared to spend was out of all proportion in terms of what is important to my family. With real regret, I emailed the bike’s owner and explained that I would not be able to look at the bike.
I’m certain I made the right decision about the Orbea, and if I come into a providential windfall while the bike’s still for sale, the first thing I’ll do is buy it. Christmas is on its way. Who knows what will happen.
A Less Expensive Compromise
I did travel to Murfreesboro to test ride a 2003 Bianchi Reparto Corse Alu-Lite SL in my size, celeste green with Campagnolo Centaur 10 speed gruppo. According to the seller, he bought it from the original owner, a Chattanooga physician who’d put a lot of miles on it; seller said he’d only ridden it about 2000 miles. If the bike had been in better condition, it would have been worth what he was asking. I actually offered him more than I’d originally wanted to because I did like the bike, and now that I’ve been super close to buying a top-end European bike with top-end groupset, I would have settled for a less expensive, lower-end European bike. The seller, however, said, “For that, I’d just as soon keep the bike.” So, I let him keep it.
What I wound up getting was a 2007 Jamis Super Nova cyclocross racing bike. I’d seen the ad on Craigslist for about the past month, so had plenty of time to research it. The photos above are those the seller used in his ad. The 2007 Jamis catalog can be found here.
The biggest complaints I’d read on various Internet bulletin boards were: Avid Shorty brakes provided inadequate stopping power; strange seatpost brake cable routing; heavy wheelset. The 2007 Jamis catalogue lists the Supernova as the company’s top-end cyclocross bike that year (but, there were only two cross-specific models). The Craigslist seller had addressed the brake problem by installing a set of Kore brakes using Kool Stop mountain bike pads, added Dura Ace rear derailleur and shift/brake levers, Ultegra front derailleur, Ritchey carbon fork, RaceFace alloy stem and 44 cm bars, SRAM rear cassette with a large cog for hills, cheap SRAM chain, Mavic Ksyrium wheelset with cheap Continental Ultra Sport tires.
I probably paid $50 to $100 too much for the bike, considering the seller had built up the frame (purchased on Ebay in 2009, he said, from an Oregon bike shop that probably stripped a complete bike that didn’t sell) using components he’d already had or bought, like the frame, on Ebay. On the way home, I agonized over not having bargained better.
Because I felt chagrined, when I got to the house, I added some air to the tires and rode the bike around the neighborhood deliberately hitting every rough patch I could find, and then rode it around my yard a few times, hitting roots and holes on purpose. What I discovered as a result of this caveman-level emotionally motivated activity was that the frame is supremely comfortable; that even with low-end, treadless road tires, the bike handles all manner of lousy (but dry for this experiment) surface conditions in a manner that left me feeling confidently in control of the bike. I began to like the bike in spite of my stupid bikesnobbery.
This bike’s a little like those second and third hand computers and videography equipment I bought back in college for projects, only I have no project to justify the bike’s expense. I’ve already bought a 90 mm stem to replace the 110 mm unit that came with the bike. Tried that out today, along with some cage-pedals. Stem and pedals are fine, but I’ve got to reorient the bars for a little better long-ride comfort and control.
I do like the orange and white color scheme. I like the fact that the bars are wider, but hate the drops – they aren’t long enough at the ends. Or, rather, they don’t sweep back far enough to comfortably grip for longer periods of time. Maybe Salsa Woodchipper or Short and Shallow bars? I hate the black bar tape and switch to white when I get a set of bars I like better. Okay with me that the white will become dirty-gray before long. Adds character and still matches the bike’s color scheme better than black.
It did turn out those Mavic hubs are either in need of service or replacement – they don’t spin as freely as they ought. Getting the bike up to speed requires real effort. I ordered a set of Continental Tour Ride 2 tires for winter riding here at Stepford. They arrived today. I’m not sure about them, but will try them out after I get the hubs sorted.
Here’re some pictures I’ve taken of the bike while out on rides since last Thursday’s purchase:
In the interest of the subject-line referenced endeavor, I present for your consideration a link to my Amazon reviews. Bear in mind that what I think is usually what I write and publish, a lot of times without rereading my copy for style, tedious repetition, barbarisms, etcetera. Read on and be both amazed and influenced:
For what it’s worth, I’ve also regained access to my Flickr account, so I may start uploading photos there, too.