GAP ride 2016

gaptrail_mapupdate-01The Great Allegheny Passage is a 150 mile rail trail that runs from Cumberland Md, to Pittsburgh Pa. It’s largely flat, as rail trails usually are, and improved with cinder, although some small sections of it are asphalt.

Mike Roon of Michigan Coast Rider’s (MCR), America by Bicycle and Alger Bikes fame has been leading a ride on this trail during October for the last several years. It’s been a “friends of Mike Roon” type of ride, so maybe you haven’t heard about it, until now.


The short bus – somewhere in Ohio

I was honored to be invited (well Mike told me I should go, that I would enjoy it, and that I needed it) this year. We left Thursday, October 6th about 6am and drove to Cumberland in a pair of MCR’s vans. Upon arrival, four of us took off on a short ride just to get rid of that car ride sluggishness that develops. Then we met the rest of the group for dinner and a cocktail, wouldn’t want to miss out on that.


Cumberland, MD – Thursday eve – on the C&O Canal Towpath – yes 3 of us rode our fatbikes.

Friday morning we were up early and hitting the GAP trail at mile 0.

This group spanned from the very experienced to folks who were worried whether or not they could finish this ride. All in all a nice group of people, most of them better riders than they thought they were. Day 1 starts with 27 miles uphill to about Frostburg and the Eastern Continental Divide. Then lunch in Meyersdale at this great little restaurant that we totally overwhelmed, and on to Confluence to our hotel – yes hotel – I’ve camped, it’s great – I like a hotel. If you’d like to ride this trail sometime on your own and camp, there appeared to be plenty of nice facilities for that along the way. Day 1 is about 65 miles. Rain for part of this ride made a pretty big mess of our bikes, as much as I hate using a hose to clean my bike, it was our only option – fortunately the hotel was willing to let us use their water to hose off – suppose they don’t want that mess in the rooms though do they?


Day 2 was Confluence to Smithton, just over 50 miles, and almost all downhill, very slight grade – almost can’t tell – my Strava segment shows 737 feet of elevation – almost all of it in the last 2 miles where a few of us left the trail and rode to the hotel. We delayed our start in the hope that the rain would subside, and it did, for a while. Several of us stopped in Ohiopyle for a sandwich and a cocktail, kind of hoping the rain would subside. Ohiopyle is a cool little community established along a bend in the river, lots of kayaking and sights here. It’s beautiful all along this section, we saw a lot of the river and had better access to it than day 1. Our official lunch stop was in Connellsville. Several of the participants changed clothes, I just kept warm as much as I could while eating lunch, knowing that riding would warm me back up. Rain kept us on the trail most of the day. I stopped early and snapped a picture of the river because it seemed a shame not to appreciate the beauty of the area just because of rain. Did I mention it rained?


The Youghiogheney river

Day 3 was Smithton to Pittsburgh. Got up to dryer but cool conditions. Rode the hill back down to the start of the trail, always enjoyable. We stopped to look at a few waterfalls along the way. As we got into Boston, PA, I made the group stop – my foot was freezing – shoe was probably still a little wet from the day before. The riding became much more urban as we got into the suburbs of Pittsburgh. Small towns give way to bigger towns, then small cities – some of the towns look like they haven’t really recovered since the steel mill days. As you get into McKeesport it starts to look a little nicer, but still abandoned factories… As we got near our destination I was really impressed with the city Pittsburgh has become. I’ll admit I’d envisioned an old town I’d probably not want to visit, but it’s really quite interesting and I would like to go back. Day 3 ended up being a little short of 40 miles. Mike took us to the top of Mount Washington (in the vans) for a view of Pittsburgh – gorgeous. There’s also a really pretty Catholic Church that overlooks the city up there.


view from Mount Washington

This was a great trip.

Mike has decided to make the trip next year into an official Michigan Coast Rider’s event. You’ll be able to visit the MCR website and sign up. Price is $375 including transportation and food, you buy your own lunches, deserts, and drinks with dinner.

The road to the Dirty Kanza 200 – Part III

by Don Lee

The bike.

This was the most detailed and complicated bike set up that I’d ever undertaken. It seems pretty obvious given the nature of the event. There are so many details that I considered that I wasn’t aware how involved the process was until I started writing it down.

I started with my 2015 Cannondale Super-X CX-1. It’s a hi-mod carbon fiber Cannondale cyclocross bike with 11-speed 1x SRAM Force and Velocity Aileron/Industry Nine pro-build wheelset. It’s my go-to bike. There may be more practical bikes, but it’s my favorite and I’m comfortable on it. For a 200 mile gravel race I think that’s very important.

I had a complete tear down and tune up in the fall near the end of CX season last year so everything was pretty well dialed. I decided based on Elliot’s recommendation to replace the chain and cassette. My chain and cassette were in good shape with somewhere between 1000 – 1500 miles of late season and pretty chill spring riding. From all accounts the DK 200 exploits every weakness… Physical, mental and mechanical and I wasn’t going there to quit because of an equipment failure. I stuck with the same gearing I use for CX season and Barry-Roubaix which is 42 x 11/28. I considered an 11/32 but my thinking was it might just be an excuse to bail when I should be pushing. I also went with the cheaper SRAM 1130 chain as suggested by Justin Naley due to the solid chain pins as opposed to the hollow pins on the SRAM 1170 which is what I normally run. I’m taking the chain I removed as a spare as well as three 11-speed SRAM Power Links for emergency repairs.

My carrying capacity was exclusively products from Revelate Designs. I purchased a size small Tangle frame bag, a Pika seat bag, and a Gas Tank that I borrowed from Chris Jensen.

I took some time and a couple shake down rides to get the contents of the bags organized in a way that made sense. I originally had all my tire repair supplies in my Pika seat bag. I only used about 35-40% of the carrying capacity of the seat bag. It’s HUGE and unobtrusive and I wouldn’t think you could carry so much in a seat bag. Leaving room gave me options for inclement weather clothing and having some flexibility is good for your brain. Josh Duggan pointed out that it would be pretty slow rifling through the seat bag if I needed to repair a flat. I ended up moving my very compact Cannondale Multi-Tool, Sefas Microblast inflator w/COs (2), a tube and Park Tire Boot to the Gas Tank. The Gas Tank has a small divider in it so even with those items in there I still had room for 3-4 bars and 3-4 GUs. With that my Gas Tank was set.

The small Tangle bag only contained three items. My Cannondale AirSpeed Max hand pump, a 70 oz. Camelbak bladder and a bandana that I used to protect the bladder from the pump and the zipper on the bag. The Camelbak bladder had the long insulated hose. I had a system of zip ties that kept it in place and allowed me to extend and retract it as needed.

The Pika bag contained my remaining tools and spares. This included a tire, tubes (2), COs (4), Presta adapter, Alien II Multi-Tool, derailleur hanger, bandanas (2), my phone and wallet. The Alien II has everything and I wouldn’t do a long race without it. The idea was to never have to get into this bag.

The bars on my CX bike are always double wrapped. I feel I have more control on rough terrain, less hand fatigue from over-gripping and more padding for comfort. I decided to triple wrap the bar with a gel-based bar tape from the hoods to the end of the existing tape near the stem for extra padding and comfort for what I imagined would be long periods of time spent on the hoods.

I also wrap the drive-side chain stay on all my bikes with a neat, double-layer of electric tape in order to protect the frame from chain slap. Clutched derailleurs alone will not protect your stay on the rough decents of the flint hills of Kansas.

The Tuesday before DK, Josh and I did Matt Acker’s Tuesday Night Gravel Adventure for a final shakedown. The previous Tuesday after the Founder’s TNR I had a conversation with Jeff Jacobi about what I thought were worn bearings in my Industry 9 hubs. He confirmed my suspicions based on my description and the next day asked Ryan Olthouse to get some bearings coming our way. I brought the wheels to Brian Walquist at Alger Bikes that morning a little desperate to get them back before Matt’s TGA that night. Jeff called me about 3pm with the good news that the wheels were ready! I was floored. He unfortunately had some bad news for me as well. Paul VanWesop had discovered that the Clement MSO tubeless-ready tire I had mounted on the front the night before was defective. It had a snake wiggle in the tread that was not going to be rideable.

I picked up the wheels directly from Velocity USA. The guys went way above and beyond turning these wheels around so I could get in my final shake down ride before leaving for Kansas the following day. Once again, I was feeling the love from our amazing local cycling scene and moved my piece one step closer to the DK 200.

I threw on an old tire for the shake down ride. Other than that, everything was set up the way it would be for the race. I liked the way the bike was rolling with the MSO on the rear, even though I was running an old Schwalbe with a tube up front, I could tell that the MSO would be a solid tire. I rolled fast and hooked up nicely. Brian got with the distributor to ship one out to Bill Hill’s hotel in KS so I figured I was all set. I was super bummed that Josh had a pretty bad crash during the ride that night. We cleaned him up, drank some beer, and ended up at CVS buying up mass quantities of Tegaderm while hoping for a speedy recovery.

At this point I have travel and lodging set. Support is in the exceedingly capable hands of the Apex Mulit-Sport Team, my bike is completely dialed and ready to rock and roll. Next… We race.

The Road to the Dirty Kanza 200 – Part II


by Don Lee

The outreach to support my “little indulgence” has been heart felt and humbling. Sometimes we have casual conversations about the “cycling community” and how great it is, etc. blah, blah, blah. I’ve come to realize that it’s not cliché, but something deep and meaningful. So many people have stepped forward to help me get to this race and (hopefully) finish it. My team at Alger Bikes has been generous and helpful beyond expectations. Brian Walquist keeps putting up with every single request and last minute change I’ve come up with based on all of the great advice I’ve received. Justin Nalley has endured endless questions and has ensured I have everything I need for the bike. Bob Hammond has patiently allowed me to camp on a stand in the back and has twisted more wrenches on my bikes in the last twelve months than I think I have in my entire life. Nathan Falls has become my “stand partner” and a great resource to bounce ideas off.

I’ve had people from competing teams support me in ways that have both astounded and surprised me considering the level of energy and persistence required to do such a generous thing. Elliot Cooper, Sally Finkbeiner and Mike Bernhard from the Founder’s team for the great conversations about the race and setup, Mike Clark and Kathy “Kaat” Tahy from 3rd Coast Cycles (check out the 2017 HeelKaat Hundie if you love gravel) both pulled strings in Emporia to ensure that I would have the support I needed. Brad Rivard and Steve Kenneth advocated on my behalf with the Grand Rapids Bicycle Company riders who are heading to DK. The final hookup came courtesy of Kevin Soules of Team Apex by way of him introducing me to Bill Hill. I met Kevin just before CX season last year, he became a regular and good friend via the Questionable Traction CX practices that Chris Jensen and I organized.

Bill Hill is a four time Dirty Kanza 200 finisher. If John Despres is the West Michigan ambassador to the DK 200, than Bill is the commander-in-chief of the WM contingency. Bill is out to earn the coveted DK 200 1,000 Mile Chalice when he hits 1,000 miles of DK punishment this go-round on his fifth finish.

The DK requires every rider to have a support person. Minimally this requires you to have the phone number of a person with a vehicle who can bail you out if you destroy your bike, your body or your mind. Or if in Johnny D’s case last year, have so many flats that you run out of tubes (Johnny D’s NOTE:  I’ll share that my 7 flats with 6 tubes was 2014, not 2015. Last year saw me ride into town without a rear derailleur. 2014 I made it 93 miles while last year, I abandoned at mile 25 and rode back on my super slow SS.) Team Apex offers their teammates and as luck would have it, me… a significantly higher level of support than this.

I was invited by Bill to join the Team Apex DK 200 organizational meeting. I spent much of the time at the meeting texting notes to myself and trying to ask relevant questions. I learned much and felt fortunate to have been invited into yet another group of seasoned DK finishers. Plus there was an abundance of Founder’s All Day so I felt right at home. It isn’t lost on me that this group of people had endured in some cases, multiple DK200 experiences and had no trouble sharing every tip, trick and hack that they have collectively learned over thousands of miles of riding with me, more or less a complete stranger to most of them.

The conversation stayed mostly on track with a couple deviations including Chris Knight jumping in Rich’s pool in his kit, Troy Carr’s constant comic relief, recollections of being stuck in the mud, varied states of ass chafing, and of course, tire choice.

When the conversation turned to GPS there was some discussion about keeping your Garmin running for 14 hours plus. Through trial and error and tearing open a bunch of chargers in the Emporia WalMart, Bill discovered that there aren’t many battery operated chargers that you can plug into a Garmin with out having it shut down, reset and erase your entire DK effort. Jack Carpenter mentioned that he found a portable emergency charger that worked while the Garmin is running. Then he offered to lend his to me… I was pretty blown away considering we had only met thirty minutes earlier. I ended up getting one shipped to me in time but it’s always amazing to me how generous people in the cycling community can be.

We discussed the way support would work and what riders needed to have together for their individual support kit. For the most part everybody settles on some basics, but then individuals will detail out their support kit to suit their personal needs or perceived needs.

For Team Apex the individual support kit is a 15qt. plastic container. The example that Bill had was Rich Worth’s. It had his name and phone number, and three ¼ sheets of paper with an instruction/reminder list of things to do and or eat at each checkpoint. Rich also had a reminder to follow Rule #5 when things get tough at the end of each list.

The basics included repair parts, chamois cream, food, etc.
My kit specifically contains:

  • Spare Tire
  • Tubes (2)
  • CO2 cartridges (4)
  • Chain w/quick links
  • Zip ties
  • Wet wipes
  • Cycling shoes (spare)
  • Socks
  • Ziplocks
  • Zip Ties
  • Electric tape
  • Chamois cream
  • Triple antibiotic ointment
  • Bars, GUs, peanut/cashew mix and Polish Dill pickles
  • Bandages
  • Food, Acetominephin, Ibuprofen, Enduralytes, multi-vitamins in three separate Ziplocks each labeled with a stop number.

Support is ready. Now to prep the bike.

The road to the Dirty Kanza 200

13130962_10208278559513071_5753160353656082043_o-2by Don Lee

I was riding on the Tuesday night Founder’s ride a few weeks ago and Elliot Cooper and Sally Finkbeiner were talking about the Dirty Kanza 200 gravel road race. I don’t exactly remember how it came up but I probably mentioned that I’d like to do it at some point. I’ve read many accounts, mostly from John Despres Facebook page and I was intrigued. I always like to have a story…

It turned out that Jane VanHof had an entry to burn because she had some family from out of town visiting that weekend and wasn’t going to be able to use it. Sure enough I called her and went through the transfer procedure and there I was. Four weeks out from a 200 mile gravel race and truthfully, I had no clue. No ride, no place to stay, maybe some of the gear that I need and no support.

The good news is I’ve been riding. I have about 1,000 miles in so far this year. I took it really easy this Winter so I’m feeling fresh and was ready to be back on the bike when the weather started getting nice. I guess the other piece of good news is that I like endurance racing, I’ve done a bit of it and I seem to be able to stay on the bike for long periods of time and suffer.

So, how to prepare? The nice thing about the Tuesday night Founder’s rides is meeting everybody for beers after. I was able to have a great conversation with Elliot about tire choice, gearing, difficulties of the course, parts preparation, and every other nugget of wisdom I could squeeze out of him. From the conversation we had I decided to run 42 x 11/28 on my Canondale CX-1. I’m also planning to run Clement X’PLOR MSO 700X36 Tubeless on Velocity Aileron/Industry 9 Pro-build wheelset. I’ll also bring both pairs of Clement MXP and PDX in case of inclement weather. Which from what I understand, tire choice will make zero difference anyway. Or as Chris Jensen stated, “Whatever tire you choose will simultaneously be the best and the worst choice you can make.” Options…

I also had a long conversation via FB chat with John Despres. We talked about gear, spares, contingencies and more about the difficulties of the course and logistics of support. He sent me his gear pack list and some photos of his Salsa Warbird. His list smartly consisted of what he carries in which bags on the bike and also what he packs in the feed bags that are sagged by his support. From those conversations and the list he sent me I decided to go with the Revelate Designs Tangle frame bag and Pika seat bag. You need to measure your bike for the Tangle as I discovered in a rather unfortunate way by ordering a medium and large to “try them out” only to discover that the small is the only one that will fit in my frame. So, if you’re looking for a medium or large Tangle Frame Bag, give Justin up at Alger Bikes a call.

How to get there? Facebook can be a great resource in a time of need. A simple post, albeit a little pathetic, and I had a ride and a place to stay in the DK nether-regions of remote Kansas. John Despres, who is apparently the West Michigan ambassador to the DK was literally “Johnny on the spot” not only for myself, but also Josh Duggan who was going through similar trepidation about getting there, having support and I suspect gearing up. A ride and a place to stay. Check!

So, now to get in some miles. Evan Wilson had a century ride that he’s been planning of a few months that conveniently peaked at the highest point in the lower peninsula. With DK boasting some pretty tough climbing on parts of the course, we figured a formidible day of climbing and distance would be just what we need to test our DK legs.

I packed out a CamelBak with everything I needed for a century with the idea that this is what I would kit up with for the DK. I have an old ToPeak Alien because it has EVERYTHING including a chain breaker, a Ziplock with enough Scratch Labs powder for two bottles, Serfas Micro inflater w/two COs, Cannondale AirSpeed Max mini-pump, half a dozen GUs, 70 oz. of H20 and assorted bars including Erg Bars, Clif Bar Protien, and Luna Lemonzest because – if you try it you’ll know.

Joel VanKuiken, Josh and I decided to see what we could do pace wise for 100 miles. We weren’t killing ourselves by any stretch, but with a 20mph headwind sometimes gusting to 35, we certainly earned all of the KOMs we didn’t get. It was a tough 100 miles but we managed it in about 5 and half hours with an average speed of just under 18mph. That was very much due to the tailwind we enjoyed on the return trip, which but for one flat and some really fun and fast riding, was relatively uneventful.

Up next… Support and getting the gear together.

2017 Cannondale Scalpel Si Team

Alger Bikes has been selling and servicing Cannondale Scalpel’s for a long time. We’ve been graced with the newest Scalpel launch just as Cannondale is launching this great new bike nationwide. Come get your first look starting 4/29/2016.

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This new scalpel got many of the treatments the F-Si did last year, including the new offset lefty, laid back head angle and AI rear end, all changes to help you go downhill faster and more confidently.

We’re pretty excited about it, and we’ll share more as we get a chance to ride it!

Winter Rush Fat Bike Race Series

There are still three races left in the Winter Rush Fat Bike Series.  All races are at Indian Trails Golf Course in Grand Rapids. The clubhouse is open for all races – cash bar and limited chow available. Join the FatbikeGRR Winter Rush Facebook community for additional info.

Remaining dates:

  • the Ulfberht | Sunday January 24
  • Gnarbourg | Saturday February 6
  • Arrow of Cupid | Saturday February 13

Alger Bikes Fat Bike

Memorial Day Ride or F-SI Carbon 1 (second post)

2015-05-25 15.51.51

2014 Cannondale F29 Carbon 3 on the left, 2015 Cannondale F-SI Carbon 1 on the right. On the bridge at Luton Park.

I’ve managed to get two more rides in on the F-SI this week. Don and I went out on an extended ride on Memorial Day. We met at Cannonsburg Ski Area, got rained on a bit (ok a lot), in fact enough that we wondered if we’d be forced to leave so as not to damage the trail. We ended up doing two laps as we could tell as soon as it stopped raining that it still hadn’t soaked in, so no mud. I go uphill a little faster than Don, but he goes downhill and around corners well, so we’re good at pushing each other. The rain actually made the trail conditions great, fast and decent traction. We stopped in the parking lot, cleaned up our bikes a bit, then rode over to Luton Park for a lap. We traded the lead over to Luton, again pushing each other, a lot more fun on the trail. When we dove into Luton I almost immediately caught a rock with my foot, Don was in the lead and I arrogantly told him to go and I’d see if I could catch him. He ended up waiting near the end of the Orange loop. We traded the lead through Luton and then split up at the 10 mile lot. Don is getting ready for Lumberjack so he needs the miles, I am not. Getting back to Cannonsburg, I had 32 miles in. Still getting used to the saddle, but not bad. Don Finished about 40 miles I’d guess, as he rode over to Merrell. He crashed and bent his derailleur hanger, but sounded happy with the ride. I really like this bike. It handles very predictably at speed, it accelerates very well, and I can’t quite believe it, but it’s darn comfortable. I’ve got 50 miles on it so far, and I’m starting to think I might not change anything. I was expecting to need to change from the Fabric Scoop Shallow to a Radius instead, but I’m finding reduced pressure from this saddle and I can move around on it more than the saddles I’ve been using. I think the seatpost is providing some needed suspension. I’m going to break down some more of the components in a later post. Love the bike. Oh, it’s 22 pounds. Brian

2015 Cannondale F-SI Carbon 1

2015 Cannondale F-SI Carbon 1

2015 Cannondale F-SI Carbon 1

I got out on my new F-SI May 24th, for the first time. My choice of this specific bike took some time. I have ridden A Carbon Scalpel 29 for a couple of seasons, and still love that platform. That bike just makes me faster, and it doesn’t beat me up. Last season, I found myself without a Scalpel, so I started riding my single speed rigid Cannondale Trail as my primary bike. I’ve ridden single speed before, so it wasn’t a big surprise that I enjoyed it as much as I did. I just decided this year that I wanted to have that hard tail experience again, but sans a couple of pounds and with the option of a great suspension fork. Once I’d decided on the F-SI platform, I of course had to decide on the parts kit. I like SRAM components just fine, but I really like the Shimano XT brake, Mavic Crossmax SL wheels at 1520 grams, and the carbon Lefty. The maiden voyage took place today with my family, certainly not the fastest of rides, but between enjoying them in the woods and the feel of the bike, I’m going to have a great year. More to come. Brian.

Pugsley Necromancer Update/Upgrade – Bob Hammond

I’ve decided to do a less traditional fat bike “build.”  I’m using my Pugsley Necromancer as the base. Most of the parts will still be used, but modified. I love this bike. I’ve always been a fan of steel bikes. They’re flexy, more forgiving, and the tubing has a memory. The frames will flex, and always return to their original position. And the frame geometry is perfect for all seasons of riding. This is my only bike, so I use it in the spring and summer, fall and winter. The Necro had a Shimano Deore long cage 9 speed derailleur on it. I like to jump my fat bike and I’ve been dumping the chain regularly. I also need some meatier tires for winter.

The Necro awaiting its' new parts

The Necro awaiting its’ new parts

I’m keeping my wheels the same. Rolling Daryls laced to Phil hubs. Why Phil? Why not? Phil Wood makes amazing products. Not doing anything with the frame or fork, they’re amazing the way they are. I love the bb7 brakes, they work well in all conditions and are far less expensive to fix if anything goes wrong.

I am a fan of a 9spd drivetrain. The cassettes are spaced wider so they shed debris well and I think they wear longer. It’s also a little more forgiving in the shifting. With a 10spd system I’ve found everything has to be adjusted perfectly for shifting to work well. The chains are also narrower, which means they generally wear out faster and are more prone to breaking. Case in point: Iceman this year. Not to mention that replacing a 9spd drivetrain is far less expensive than a 10spd. The thing that’s missing is a 9spd derailleur with a clutch, which should help me keep my chain in a jump. No one makes one. After some research and calculations, I think I’ve found a solution.

Notice the wide spacing and awesome-bombproof Phil hub.

Notice the wide spacing and awesome-bombproof Phil hub.


My plan is to use a 10spd Shimano SLX rear derailleur with a clutch, and a 9spd SRAM x9 rear shifter. I’m going to use a spacer to raise the pinch bolt on the rear derailleur, which changes the pull ratio. SRAM uses a 1:1 ratio and Shimano uses a 2:1 ratio. This makes it so that you really can’t mix and match the two brands because the length of the cable pull between shifts is different. By using a spacer on the rear derailleur, it should change the ratio of the cable pull, thus allowing me to use a Shimano clutched derailleur with a SRAM shifter. I’m also going to run an X9 crankset with a Wolf tooth direct mount chainring. The X9 cranks are great. They are stiff, have a spiderless mounting system and they come with a new bb at a reasonable price. They’re pretty light too, not that I really care about that.

The X9 shifter I originally intended to use.

The X9 shifter I originally intended to use.


I used a SRAM 9spd shifter that I already had. They no longer make X9 9spd shifters. You’d either have to go with an X5 ($28) or an X0 ($134) 9spd shifter if you wanted to go with a trigger shifter. A lot of people are going with the grip shift shifter on their fat bikes lately. They have fewer moving parts internally, which makes them generally last longer than a trigger shifter. They do make X9 grip shift shifters still ($41). The main thing you need is a SRAM ESP/1:1 9spd rear shifter.  I decided to try an old X7 grip shift shifter. I like the idea of being able to dump all the gears if I ever need to. There are some tight, technical trails around GR that would be perfect for this setup. Being able to go from 1 to 9 in one quick motion is pretty cool.

I then installed the cranks. There are now a bunch of different manufacturers that are offering fat bike cranks. The Surly cranks don’t really give you the option of running a single ring up front. They also don’t make a narrow wide chainring. The narrow wide chainring helps prevent the chain from falling off the front, it also reduces flex and allows me to run smaller than a 30t chainring.

X9 Crank with Spiderless Wolf Tooth ring.

X9 Crank with Spiderless Wolf Tooth ring.

I went with a Shimano SLX 10spd rear derailleur ($79.99). After I mounted the derailleur, I installed the 6mm spacer between the cable mounting surface on the derailleur arm and the pinch bolt. This, in turn, raises the cable 6mm, and pushes it out slightly. What this does is change the distance that the cable pulls. SRAM uses a ratio of 1:1, while Shimano uses a 2:1 ratio. This is why you normally can’t mix the 2 brands together. The distance that the cable pulls is different between each shift.  I then adjusted the derailleur as normal. It shifts perfectly like they were meant to work together.

Pugsley Build 1Pugsley Build 2

Special touches that only the friendliest of machinists include.

Special touches that only the friendliest of machinists include.

Custom made block (thanks LB)

Custom made block (thanks LB)

First Impressions:
This is awesome! I get to keep the 9spd, and I get a clutched derailleur. This prevents the chain from dropping off the front chainring. I could always get the chain to drop on a traditional, un-clutched rear derailleur if the conditions were rough enough. So far, I haven’t had any issue with the chain dropping. This makes me very happy. Also, I actually love the grip shifter. I haven’t had one on any of my bikes and I’ve always been skeptical. You usually only ever see them on entry level bikes. I love that I have the ability to shift through more than two gears in one quick motion. I don’t have to click multiple times to run through the gears. Sometimes it’s the little things. Speaking of shifting, it’s on point! With the new spacer added to the rear derailleur to modify cable pull, I have zero issues with shifting. It’s perfect, every time. Shifting is nice and smooth; there’s no hesitation or jumping. I kept the 11-32 gearing with a 30t front chainring, and haven’t had any issues. When I do need to replace the cassette, I’ll probably go to an 11-34 or a 12-36 to get a little lower gearing.  It’s easy and effective. It’s also awesome knowing that when I need to replace a chain, I can replace it with a tried and true SRAM PC951 chain for only $24.99 and a SRAM PG970 ($48) or a Shimano XT ($79.99) cassette. So I can replace an entire 9spd drivetrain for less than $100 with high quality parts, versus 10spd, where I’ll easily spend $50 more for the comparable parts. Oh, and I forgot to mention the Surly Nate 120 TPI tires I installed, awesome traction – I’m sure I’ll appreciate that more once it snows again.

In-Store Black Friday Sale


It’s Black Friday Sale time! 2 days only…score up to 40% off in-store purchases Friday and Saturday. You have to stop in the shop to see all the deals, but here’s a sneak peek to wet your whistle:

  • 30% off most clothing, shoes, socks, and helmets.
  • 30% off lights, saddles, hydration, bike computers, bags, tires, pumps and more!
  • Up to 40% off 2014 and older bikes as marked.
  • 10% off all 2015 bikes including fat bikes.
  • 10% off kid trailers.
  • Fitness products on sale as marked.

Click right here to see our store location.

Open Friday 10 am – 6 pm, Saturday 10 am – 4 pm. Valid for In-store products only. No web sales. Back order and special orders available on some items.